Effect of land uses and wind direction on the contribution of local sources to airborne pollen

  • Rojo J
  • Rapp A
  • Lara B
 et al. 
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The interpretation of airborne pollen levels in cities based on the contribution of the surrounding flora and vegetation is a useful tool to estimate airborne allergen concentrations and, consequently, to determine the allergy risk for local residents. This study examined the pollen spectrum in a city in central Spain (Guadalajara) and analysed the vegetation landscape and land uses within a radius of 20. km in an attempt to identify and locate the origin of airborne pollen and to determine the effect of meteorological variables on pollen emission and dispersal.The results showed that local wind direction was largely responsible for changes in the concentrations of different airborne pollen types. The land uses contributing most to airborne pollen counts were urban green spaces, though only 0.1% of the total surface area studied, and broadleaved forest which covered 5% of the study area. These two types of land use together accounted for 70% of the airborne pollen. Crops, scrubland and pastureland, though covering 80% of the total surface area, contributed only 18.6% to the total pollen count, and this contribution mainly consisted of pollen from Olea and herbaceous plants, including Poaceae, Urticaceae and Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae. Pollen from ornamental species were mainly associated with easterly (Platanus), southerly (Cupressaceae) and westerly (Cupressaceae and Platanus) winds from the areas where the city's largest parks and gardens are located. Quercus pollen was mostly transported by winds blowing in from holm-oak stands on the eastern edge of the city. The highest Populus pollen counts were associated with easterly and westerly winds blowing in from areas containing rivers and streams. The airborne pollen counts generally rose with increasing temperature, solar radiation and hours of sunlight, all of which favour pollen release. In contrast, pollen counts declined with increased relative humidity and rainfall, which hinder airborne pollen transport.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aeropalynology
  • Meteorological variables
  • Pollen spectrum
  • Urban green areas
  • Vegetation

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