16 September 2020

THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Tree pollen counts continue to be very high in Gauteng, Bloemfontein, Cape Town

Certain cities are becoming increasingly challenging to live in for allergy sufferers, as pollen levels surge this week.

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 11 September:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

High tree levels were detected for cypress despite heavy rain. Other flowering trees were: pine, plane, oak and white mulberry. Grasses were low. Low weed levels included Erica and Stoebe. Fungal spores increased as sunny days followed rain and high levels were detected.

Count: 52 (very high) 

Johannesburg (Gauteng)

Tree levels were high as plane and white mulberry dominated the tree counts. Other tree types detected were Casuarina, Araucaria (Captain Cook pine similar to Norfolk pine), cypress, birch, ash, pine and gum.

Low weed levels included sedge, goosefoot, Euphorbia, Erica, Caryophyllaceae, the pink or carnation family and nightshade. Mould levels were low.

Count: 228 (very high) 

Pretoria (Gauteng)

High tree loads were dominated by white mulberry. Other trees detected were bush willow, plane, pine, yellowwood, oak, cypress, plane, ash, birch and Casuarina. Grasses and weeds (the pink or carnation family) were low. Mould levels were extremely low.

Count: 63 (very high) 

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Very high tree levels were detected with significant counts for cypress, ash, plane, gum and pine. White mulberry, oak, yellowwood, poplar, willow and mesquite were detected in lower amounts.

Grasses were low. Low weeds included the daisy family and erica. Mould levels were very low except for one spike for Pleospora, the wet air spore.

Count: 283 (very high) 

Kimberley (Northern Cape)

Tree levels are increasing and significant counts were seen for cypress and white mulberry. Other tree pollen detected included ash, pine, plane, pecan, birch and poplar. Low weed levels were seen and only goosefoot was detected. No grass pollen was observed and mould levels were low.

Count: 19 (moderate)

Durban (KZN)

Fungal spore levels were significant as the allergenic spore Cladosporium reached high levels. Grasses were low. Weeds were low and only ferns and Euphorbia were detected. Low tree levels included white mulberry, pine, birch, poplar and cypress.

Count: 3 (low) 

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

Grasses were low, tree pollen was low and the types detected were acacia, Casuarina, cypress, olive and pine. Low weed levels included the daisy family, sedge, the pink or carnation family and Euphorbia. Mould levels were low.

Count: 3 (low)

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 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: Pexels


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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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