Airborne allergenic pollen modelling
To date there is a global increase in the burden of allergic respiratory diseases, enhanced by air pollution. Anthropogenic emissions may affect both the allergens as well as the allergic subjects by increasing the immune reaction and by intensified biogenic emissions of airborne pollen. In Europe, a quarter of the population suffers from pollinosis, whereas in some countries the prevalence is over 40%.
Knowing the amounts of allergenic pollen in the air is helpful for the treatment and diagnosis of pollinosis and the eviction of aeroallergens during high risk periods when alerts are issued (www.airallergy.be). Chemical Transport Models (CTMs) are able to estimate airborne pollen levels both in a consistent spatial as well as temporal way by dealing with pollen as large biogenic aerosols emitted by vegetation and subjected to transport and deposition under various meteorological conditions.
At the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, the CTM SILAM (System for Integrated modeLling of Atmospheric coMposition, developed at the Finnish Meteorological Institute) is in use as research tool for modelling the spatio-temporal amounts of airborne birch and grass pollen grains in Belgium. Grasses and birches are major sources of allergenic pollen in Belgium.