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Alder in spring: pollen pollution is currently increasing

Photo: Countrypixel / IMAGO

Because of climate change and mild temperatures, pollen counts are starting earlier and earlier in Germany. It's already in full swing in February, as the German Pollen Information Service Foundation reports - and as allergy sufferers notice. Hazel pollen, which began flying in some regions in December, has actually already passed its peak. However, pollen pollution from alder, yew, elm, poplar and cypress plants is currently increasing.

Alder pollen is "clearly the number one allergen in the air" for the coming days and could "have a strong impact everywhere after rainfall," according to the German Pollen Information Service Foundation's forecast for last week. If it remains dry, windy and mild, the load could even be “in the seasonal peak range” at times.

This year February is once again unusually mild. Allergy sufferers therefore have symptoms “in principle all year round,” said Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, director of environmental medicine at Augsburg University Hospital, to the dpa news agency.

Another problem: pollen now often releases more allergens than before. According to Traidl-Hoffmann, this is not only due to the increased temperatures, but also to higher levels of pollutants. It can be observed, especially in cities, that plants produce more pollen when pollutant concentrations are high. This is a stress reaction and survival strategy of the plant, because ultimately the pollen count serves to reproduce the plants.

Allergy-friendly urban greenery

When it comes to urban greening, the allergenic potential of plants must therefore be “considered much more closely,” demands Torsten Zuberbier, director of the Institute for Allergy Research at the Berlin Charité, in a press release from the European Foundation for Allergy Research, of which he is chairman. From a health and economic point of view, it does not make sense to continue planting trees to whose pollen people in Germany are allergic. »It definitely makes sense to have a lot of greenery in the city. But pollen-producing plants such as birch trees should be avoided as much as possible,” says Zuberbier.