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Pine pollen not to blame for hay fever

Pine pollen not to blame for hay fever

2 September 2016

This time of the year pine pollen becomes a visible cover over puddles and ponds and commentators habitually blame pine trees for causing hay fever.

However, pine pollen only affects a very small proportion of people with allergies.

According to forest research organisation Scion Principal Scientist Dr Tim Payn this is due to its relatively large size and waxy coating and so it is far less reactive up people’s noses than grass pollen.

“The science shows that pine pollen is unlikely to cause a reaction in people because of that layer between the pollen and the sinuses of the people who breath it in,” Dr Payn says.

“The wax inhibits protein leaking out and causing an allergic reaction as well as it having not much protein in the pollen in the first place. Much smaller grass pollen, in contrast, is much more likely to penetrate deeper into the respiratory system and cause a reaction.”

Dr Payn says it is not impossible for people to react to Pinus radiata pollen, especially as a pollen cross-reaction where the body’s immune system generalises an allergic reaction. But he says most cases of hay fever are either from grass pollen or some other tree species such as silver birch.

He also says people shouldn’t be concerned about seeing pine pollen on ponds and lakes and its potential to add nitrogen into the water.

“It mightn’t look good, but the pollen soon breaks down harmlessly and has minimal impact on the environment.”


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