To overcome this problem, several southern European studies combined daily grass pollen concentrations with the approach of phenology: the visual observation of plant life cycles including flowering conditions in the field [ 14 ] and identification of the grass species that contribute the most to daily pollen concentrations [ 15 — 18 ]. The same approach was used in the study presented herein, comparing the progress of the grass pollen season in across three different European cities and thus to test its applicability in different regions: Vienna Austria , Berlin Germany and Turku Finland.
Berlin is the largest city in this study with more than 3.
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Vienna is situated along the Eastside of the Alps passing into the Pannonian plain in the transition of the oceanic to the continental climate Cfb climate in [ 21 ] and records more than 1. Turku is the smallest city in this setting with less than Moreover, the three cities were chosen to evaluate the methodological approach in different settings and to assess the influence of biogeographical parameters.
In addition to grass species observations in the field, crowd-sourced symptom data and daily pollen concentrations - a novel feature was introduced: three different grass species that were found to be highly relevant in their contribution to the grass seasons in this study Dactylis glomerata , Festuca pratensis , Phleum pratense were used in a mobile pollen exposure chamber to observe whether pollen allergy sufferers exhibit different reactivity profiles to pollen from each grass species.
Phenological observations and identification of different grass species were performed once to twice a week in different locations of Vienna, Berlin and Turku. Different urban habitats in extensive observation sites were chosen to cover a representative range of grass species. Moreover, a third location next to the pollen monitoring station in the phenological garden of the Vienna meteorological service was included.
The total area of all observation sites in Vienna was more than The total area of all observation sites in Berlin amounts to approximately m 2. All observation areas are located in the city borders of the respective cities and are in close distance to the pollen monitoring stations.
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However, it has to be mentioned that the location of the random fields could be set wider apart due to governmental lawn mowing activities see limitations. In Turku the observation areas were defined on an urban to agricultural gradient and inside each study area the observed sites were selected randomly one site in University area and Skanssi, three sites in Tuorla.
Five different phenological phases have been defined to determine the pollination periods of each grass species detailed definition in [ 19 ]. These phases were translated into international BBCH phenological phases [ 22 ]. Only more than 25 individuals per grass species and defined area were examined to evade observing poorly distributed grasses at the respective surface [ 16 ]. Daily pollen concentrations were assessed with volumetric pollen and spore traps of the Hirst design [ 23 ] in the three European cities.
The collected data were evaluated according to the minimum recommendations of the European Aeroallergen Society [ 24 ] to ensure high data quality. The main pollination period of the grass pollen season was defined by applying the standardized season definition of the European Aeroallergen Network EAN. This pollen diary is a free web-based online diary and records symptoms of users suffering from pollen allergies.
Data from this diary is highly practicable and was used in several scientific studies [ 25 — 28 ]. Users fill in a validated questionnaire and indicate the symptom severity of eyes, nose and lungs including medication use. A total symptom score can be calculated with this basic information.
For the purpose of this study, the data of all users from Berlin, Vienna and Turku exhibiting a positive background correlation to grasses during the grass pollen season in were included following the methodology of [ 19 ]. Hence, only users with a minimum of 10 entries during the main grass pollen season were included into the evaluation. Furthermore, users with a positive background correlation to birch pollen were excluded in Berlin and Vienna, thus to avoid unrealistic symptom loads in the beginning of the grass pollen season due to poly-sensitization and a short overlap of the birch and grass pollen season.
In Turku, the grass pollen season and the birch pollen season were not overlapping; hence users were only filtered for a minimum of 10 entries and a positive background correlation to grass pollen. Daily symptom load indices were calculated as described in [ 25 ] after user filtering. Thus, the total symptom scores including all organs, specific symptoms and medication use of all user entries were normalized to attain daily mean values between 0 and 10 for the respective time period of the grass pollen season.
Exposure tests with pollen from three different grass species Phleum pratense , Festuca pratensis and Dactylis glomerata ; Pharmallerga, Czech Republic were performed in the mobile GA2LEN chamber in Berlin, which is validated according to current needs and requirements [ 29 ].
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Patients recorded eye and nose itching, sneezing, running and blocked symptoms. For every symptom, a score of 0 to 3 was applied none, mild, moderate, and severe. The software R in version 3. For the three locations a linear regression model was estimated for the symptom data with the square root of pollen concentration data as only independent variable Fig.
The residuals of these linear regression models were used in an analysis of variance ANOVA with the pollination periods of the most prevalent grass species in every location to assess the impact of single grass species on the symptom data. Moreover, an additional analysis of variance ANOVA was applied on the linear model of square root of pollen concentration data against the pollination periods of the prevalent grass species to examine the impact of single grass species on the grass pollen concentrations during the grass pollen season. Moreover, graphs of the linear correlation model of daily SLI observations y-axis and the square root of daily pollen concentrations per m 3 x-axis for Vienna top right , Berlin center right and Turku bottom right.
Eleven species were present in all European cities. For reasons of clarity and comprehensibility only these 11 species that exhibited the highest distribution at the observation sites in each location are discussed herein. The flowering of meadow grass Poa pratensis occurred at the beginning of the main grass pollen season and the group of fescue grasses Festuca spp. Only the phenological phases where pollination is likely phase 1—3; see [ 19 ] have been included in Fig. In Vienna, phenological observations began at the end of April week 17 and lasted until mid-August week At the start of May, false barely grass Hordeum murinum , false brome grass Bromus hordeaceus and common meadow grass Poa pratensis began flowering and initiated the main grass pollen season Fig.
By mid-May, orchard grass Dactylis glomerata started flowering in concert with the first pollen peaks, followed by the flowering of false-oat grass Arrhenatherum elatius , tall fescue grass Festuca arundinacea , yellow oat grass Trisetum flavescens and couch grass Elymus repens at the end of the month Fig. Perennial rye-grass Lolium perenne flowered later and produced, together with orchard grass, the longest pollination period of all species observed ranging from the end of May until the beginning of July Fig.
Only Poa pratensis , Dactylis glomerata , Arrhenatherum elatius , Festuca arundinacea and Lolium perenne were highly prevalent at all observation areas included. In Berlin, phenological observations began at the end of April week 17 and lasted until the end of August week At the beginning of May, sweet vernal grass Anthoxanthum odoratum and meadow foxtail grass Alopecurus pratensis started flowering Fig.
By mid-May, the main grass pollen season was initiated by the flowering of orchard grass Dactylis glomerata and the full flower of common meadow grass Poa pratensis Fig. The first and main peak of the grass pollen season was introduced in the beginning of June by a variety of grass species including the latter two, together with red fescue grass Festuca rubra , false-oat grass Arrhenatherum elatius , Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus , perennial rye grass Lolium perenne and smooth brome grass Bromus inermis Fig.
Only Dactylis glomerata and Festuca rubra were highly prevalent at all observation areas. In Turku, phenological observations began mid-May week 21 and lasted until the beginning of September week The first grass species that started flowering in the turn of May and June were meadow foxtail grass Alopecurus pratensis and mountain melic grass Melica nutans Fig.
The main grass pollen season and the subsequent first peak in mid-June was caused by the main flowering of common meadow grass Poa pratensis , sheeps fescue grass Festuca ovina , red fescue grass Festuca rubra , tufted hair grass Deschamspia flexuosa and wavy hair grass Deschampsia caespitosa Fig. The second pollen peak in mid-July and the grass flowering in the latter half of July were contributed by common bent grass Agrostis capillaris , Timothy grass Phleum pratense and couch grass Elymus repens Fig.
The grass pollen season faded into August and only wood small-reed grass Calamagrostis epigejos had its flowering peak during the last week of July and the first week of August Fig. No more pollen peaks were observed after July. Only Alopecurus pratensis and Phleum pratense were highly prevalent at all observation areas and sites included.
Pollen concentration measurements were taken continuously at all pollen monitoring sites Vienna, Berlin, Turku during the grass pollen season of , resulting in a complete record of grass pollen concentrations. The characteristics of the three grass pollen seasons are described as follows, since differences could be observed concerning the pollen levels season intensity and the pollen curve season progress.
Only minor concentrations occurred in the period before and after the main grass pollen season data not shown. The main grass pollen season started on the 30th of April and ended on 22nd of July in Vienna. The peak day was the 4th of June, with a concentration of grass pollen per m 3.
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Indeed, this concurs with the main spiking in pollen peaks that were observed during the season from the end of May and through June, as a result of the flowering in a number of the grass species described in section 3. The grass pollen season of in Vienna was an intense season above average in comparison to the last five years. The main grass pollen season started on the 12th of May and ended on 4th of August in Berlin.
The peak day was the 6th of June with a concentration of grass pollen per m 3. The grass pollen season of in Berlin was an intense season above average in comparison to the last five years.
The main grass pollen season started on the 5th of June and ended on 14th of August in Turku. The peak day was the 6th of July with a concentration of grass pollen per m 3. In total, only one day the peak day with a concentration exceeding grass pollen per m 3 air was recorded. The grass pollen season in Turku was an average season in comparison to the last five years in terms of peak value and total amount of pollen, however the number of days with zero grass pollen in the air was somewhat higher.
The number of users, after a filtering process, whose symptom data were calculated was Vienna , 46 Berlin and 16 Turku. The main grass pollen season started in Vienna with a Symptom Load Index SLI above 4 and increased with the pollen concentration to the highest recorded value of 6. The SLI started in Berlin with a value above 3, peaked with a value of 7 two days before the grass pollen peak and decreased to a value of 3 at the end of the main season Fig. In Turku, a SLI of 5. It should be noted that grass pollen concentration peaks were well reflected in the pattern of the SLI and that the SLI was similarly high in Turku, despite the lower grass pollen concentrations compared to Vienna and Berlin.
In all observation sites symptom data and pollen data showed significant correlations in a linear regression model Fig.