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Pine Pollen Arrives

Issued at 10:15am 15-Aug-2007

Pine Pollen Arrives

Pine pollen is becoming noticeable all over the country. This indicates that the annual pollen seasons are now beginning.

"The pine pollen season is late this year," said Dr David Fountain of Envirotech NZ Ltd, who has produced a pollen forecasting service in association with Metservice for the past 12 years. "Soon the puddles will be ringed with yellow dust, and we will all notice dusty films appearing on cars, windows and smooth surfaces outside. Pine pollen may make many people feel as if they have a mild cold, and those people who are allergic to grass pollen may experience allergy symptoms with itchy and watery eyes and nose."

Because pine pollen is arriving later this year than usual, its appearance is overlapping with others allergy-causing pollens such as those for hazelnut, alder, and wattle trees. Birch trees, lately the subject of bad press having been linked to a death in Christchurch, will begin producing pollen later. All the deciduous trees have a short sharp pollen production season of about 3 weeks - not sufficient reason to cut down existing trees in Dr Fountain's view. In New Zealand grasses are our major pollen allergen producers. Their peak is just before Christmas and causes about 20% of the population to have a miserable late spring and early summer.

Dr Fountain's research career at Massey University has concentrated on the allergy-causing proteins from plants and pollen grains. His published work shows that with birch trees it isn't just the pollen - other parts such as bark and leaves also contain allergy-causing proteins, and there is a known linking with some food allergy conditions. David has lived in Scandinavia and North America where birches are native trees and where their link to allergy is tolerated as an annual difficulty.


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