13 December 2019

THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Overall levels low - but rain-hit areas seeing spikes of mould

Overall pollen levels are low across the country, but where there is rain – inland or coastal, we are really seeing spikes of moulds thereafter.

Amid the highest recorded pollen counts in history, Health24 will be bringing you exclusive pollen count updates courtesy of the UCT Lung Institute's Allergy and Immunology Unit.

Here are the major city updates for 12 December:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

Very low levels of fungal spores were seen at this sampling site in a week of high temperatures, strong south-easterly wind and one light shower of rain. Pollen levels were similarly low. Tree pollen consisted of: cypress, olive, plane, oak and white stinkwood. Weed/herbaceous shrub pollen detected included: Euphorbia, rush, English Plantain and Parietaria.

Count: 11 (moderate) [Last week: 5 (low]

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Very low fungal spore levels were detected at this sampling site during this week of lower temperatures with rain. Pollen levels were low. No grass pollen was detected, and tree pollen consisted of mulberry and eucalyptus only. Weed pollen levels were very low and consisted of English Plantain.

Count: 1 (very low) [Last week: 6 (moderate)]

Pretoria (Gauteng)

The fungal spore levels were low at this sampling site throughout the week. Pollen levels were low and consisted of low grass counts, low trees including olive, eucalyptus, pine, yellowwood, acacia and oak. Weed pollen levels were low and consisted of daisy pollen only.

Count: 1 (very low) [Last week: 5 (low)]

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

The fungal spore levels were very low. Pollen levels were similarly low and included low levels of grasses and trees including: olive, eucalyptus, white stinkwood, buddleja and oak. Weed pollen included goosefoot.

Count: 4 (low) [Last week: 12 (moderate)]

Kimberly (Northern Cape)

The overall mould load was low, but 24 mm rain at the beginning of the sampling week was followed by a significant level for the allergenic fungal spore Alternaria. Pollen counts were low and consisted of low grass and sedge grass levels and the weed/herbaceous shrub: Euphorbia.

Count: 1 very low [Last week: 2 (very low)]

Durban (KZN)

Fungal spores increased fourfold following rain. Very high ascospore levels were counted. All pollen levels were low. Low grass counts were detected. Low tree pollen levels (birch, African palm and pine) and low weed/herbaceous shrub: ferns, English Plantain, Parietaria and daisy were detected.

Count: 4 (low) [Last week: 2 (very low)]

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

Mould levels were consistently low. Pollen levels were similarly low. Low grass levels were detected and the tree pollen: eucalyptus and pine. Only daisy pollen was identified in the weed category. High levels of particulate matter were noted.

Count: 1 (moderate) [Last week: 16 (moderate)

See the full report HERE.

Reference ranges:

Overall, Trees, Grasses and Weeds all use the same values (grains per cubic metres of air)

Overall count is the daily average of pollen grains per cubic metres of air (trees plus grasses plus weeds)

In partnership with the the UCT Lung Institute's Allergy and Immunology Unit.

As the pollen problem worsens, precise and expanded monitoring becomes even more essential. And here's how you can help.

Image credit: Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge, Unsplash


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Allergy expert

Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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