No continent in the world, not even a country, has a network of outdoor allergen measurements. Recent scientific evidence compels such measurements, but technically nobody was able to set-up such a consortium. Previously individual short-term measurements were performed in Australia, USA and some countries of Europe. Recently, in one country in Europe, we performed these measurements for several years and discovered differences in the allergen content of pollen from the same species from different climatic conditions. This topic received a warm reception at international conferences.*
A EU funded project is much more valuable than the sum of national activities, as the differences in climate across Europe are much greater than within single member states. This was the basis of our proposal: to use larger differences in climate to facilitate the identification of the factors determining the allergen content of pollen. Climatic differences cannot be too large, as plant species grow only within certain temperature ranges, thus no birches flower in Spain or Portugal, nor do olive trees bloom in Finland. Thus the European climate presents the natural extremes for certain species and thus makes the spread of our consortium over several countries an excellent opportunity to implement our ideas. Also, as has been shown by numerous national studies and several European projects (in particular, by Finnish national POLLEN and ESA-PROMOTE initiatives), the long-range transport of pollen plays a very important role in Europe, significantly affecting concentrations far from the source areas. Therefore, a coherent effort covering the whole continent is needed to adequately evaluate and predict airborne allergens in outdoor air in Europe. European atopic individuals will then receive the best allergen predictions currently available, thus being better prepared and thus protected compared to other citizens in the world.
State of the art of measuring airborne allergen exposure in Europe is measuring pollen in ambient air. The generated data is supplied into a national network for pollen counts. The national data are then incorporated into a European network of pollen flight data, available at the EAN (European Aeroallergen Network). It is possible to view the data of each pollen trap all over Europe separately. Our project will add to the available networks of European pollen counts EAN (European Aeroallergen Network), who are partners in this project.