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Aerobiology Research Weblog
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Outdoor pollen and fungal spore reports and interpretation 
Well I am finally doing another blog

I am getting a few questions as to why we are not showing numbers on our
reports.

The first point I need to clarify is that the numbers that were shown in
previous years on The Weather Network/MéteoMédia were forecasts for the
next day. This may not have been clear but realistically all forecasts
are exactly that and we would not have absolute numbers for what the
real pollen counts would be for the next day. Our reports were therefore forecasts just like weather forecasts.

Just to clarify and assist people who use our data when we show Low,
Moderate or High in our reports we are using a scale we created. To help
explain what this means in pollen levels I am providing an explanation of the scale. This is the scale:

LOW- 0-20 pollen grains per Cubic Meter of air
MODERATE- 21 to 80 pollen grains per Cubic Meter of air
HIGH- greater than 80 pollen grains per Cubic Meter of air

If an allergy sufferer is following the levels they can tell where the
pollen levels are at in the scale we are using. Allergies are unique
to each person so one can be primed to different levels for different
allergens before they react. Also allergens are different as to their
potency or allergic properties.

Another misconception is that a number of 100 pollen grains per Cubic
Meter of air is very different from a number of 400 pollen grains per
Cubic Meter of air. This may be true for certain people or allergens but
realistically a person would be reacting at either pollen levels the
same way.

We have done several years of research on forecasting and relating
weather to pollen counts so we could provide good reports to the public.
However this is a very young field when you compare it to weather
forecasting. We have a data base and predictive models that we use for
forecasting and creating any reports.

The reason why the reports were changed was due to the fact that since
we were providing forecasted numbers and not actual we could go to Low,
Moderate and High. All of the sites we have are very unique and
different just like people’s allergies. So it was decided to provide
more information on a wider variety of pollen for each site so people
could follow any allergen they had issues with.

The other emails we receive are about the lack of information on the
fungal spores. We, at Aerobiology Research, realize how significant
fungal spores are to allergy sufferers and that this information is
valuable. We have made it our goal to make sure that the fungal spores
will be available through a mobile app and/or web site possibly this year
and hopefully next season.

I would also like to add that other reports can be found on
Pharmaceutical companies’ web sites and/or mobile apps. These reports
also provide good information. It is important to recognize that these
companies who carry our reports are doing a great service to the
public. Without this support our company would not exist and people
would not be getting valuable information to help deal with their allergies.

Please keep the emails coming we like the input and we will clarify
questions that people have about our reports and also where they can be
found.

Frances

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New Allergy season- what are we to expect 
This is a new season for pollen and mold allergies. One must wonder what to expect and if anyone can tell us what kind of a season it's going to be. Well we can give an educated guess and one could be right or wrong. Generally I figure one might not be right.

We have done many years of research to try and predict if this is going to be a high season for the tree pollen. We have not even tried for the mold spores. We have had some success in being able to see some relationship between weather and high or low seasons. Part of the difficulty is that not all trees react the same to weather. Also trees are affected several times in the year where the amount of pollen available will depend on what the weather is doing.

In the summer months, when the trees are producing their pollen reserves for next year, many things can affect how much is produced by the trees. A hot dry summer will create a situation completely different from a cool wet summer and each type of tree will also react differently to the weather. So the maple trees will react differently from the oak trees etc.

The next time the weather has a profound affect on how much pollen will be left on the trees in the spring is what kind of winter we will have. I am assuming that a winter with lots of snow, to protect the trees, might be a positive event for them to protect their pollen reserves that are already on the trees for spring. If we get freezing rain and it knocks off some of the pollen reserves from the trees well that is going to create a situation where less pollen will be available in the spring.

The next factor is what kind of spring we have. If we have a stretch of warm weather and the trees have been fooled into preparing to release their pollen and if this is followed by a long enough stretch of cold weather this will also have a profound affect on the ability for the trees to release much pollen.

The more obvious weather events that affect pollen release is when the trees are already pollinating. A great deal of rain will often knock off the pollen from the trees. This will mean that the tree will have fewer catkins on them and less pollen to be released in the air. Again a cold snap after the pollen season has begun will also have an affect on the level of pollen released by the trees.

This is a very complex system and putting it together to be able to say what kind of a pollen season we are going to have is really difficult. Mother nature is hard to understand.

Also this field of Aerobiology and the study of pollen and fungal spores in the outdoor air is really in it's infancy and not really taken seriously enough.

Now for the spores. Lots of dead material from the trees and grasses and you have lots of fungal spores. Rain and fog really have a profound affect on lower their levels in the air. Rain washes out pollen and fungal spores. However some types of fungal spores really like it after a good rain storm and are very abundant. Other fungal spores, like Cladosporium, like the hot dry weather.

I hope this helps people somewhat and when they hear somebody in the news say this is going to be the worst allergy season that this is not to be taken seriously. It's a science that is hard to understand and one cannot say anything about what type of season we are going to have unless they have data and have done many years of research.

Enjoy and have a good allergy season. I mean that in the kindest way

Frances


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Usefulnes of reports on pollen and fungal spores 
Ahh it is the end of the season for reporting and collecting samples at all of our sites across Canada.
Another year of producing reports for the public for phone applications, web sites and television.

I often wonder how useful the public find these reports. It's something that is asked every year and I would really like to have some idea if this information actually helps people or not. From the emails and phone calls that I get I feel that this is a very useful service we provide. We would not be doing this unless it was.

Our business is such that it depends on making these reports useful to the public that need this type of information to assist on improving their daily lives.

We get criticism some times from certain allergists that feel these reports are not good information and should not exist.

Well I would really like to know for our information and confirming my beliefs that people should have access to this type of information and use it in which ever way they wish. Particularly if it helps them understand better what the possible relationship is between what is happening with outdoor allergens and their reactions.

Sincerely

Frances



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