15 November 2019

Your weekly pollen update: Late tree pollen season surge in Pretoria

While pollen levels stayed relatively low countrywide, Pretoria saw a late tree pollen season surge with an increase in high overall levels.

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 14 November:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

The spore trap is without power until a circuit breaker is replaced. The estimated values remain low calculated from archived data and current weather patterns. Alternaria is likely to be reaching significant levels during November.

Count: 3 (low) [Last week: 1 (very low)]

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Low pollen levels were seen during this sampling week. Grass pollen was very low. Tree pollen was low and consisted of birch, bush willow, eucalyptus, pine, yellowwood and oak. Mould levels were consistently low. 

Count: 3 (low) [Last week:3 (low)]

Pretoria (Gauteng)

Pretoria saw a late tree pollen season surge with an increase in high overall levels. The main tree pollens being detected were mulberry and eucalyptus. However, we also detected a large variety of pollen including Oak, acacia, ash, birch, bush willow, pine, rhus/searsia, pine, white stinkwood and yellowwood. Weed pollen including goosefoot, daisy, Euphorbia and Caryophyllaceae, of the carnation family was seen. Mould concentrations were low.

Count: 43 (high) [Last week: 1 (very low)]

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Overall pollen levels were back up a little into the moderate range this week Tree pollen levels were low but actually increased from the previous week with acacia, olive, white stinkwood, eucalyptus, bush willow, rhus and buddleia detectable. Grasses were detectable above thresholds on a few days.  Very low levels of weed pollen, including goosefoot and daisy.Fungal spores were low throughout the week.

Count: 16 (moderate) [Last week: 3 (low)]

Kimberly (Northern Cape)

Kimberly continued with very low overall counts this week from 5 days of measurement. Low levels of tree pollens were detected, including cypress, pine and white stinkwood.A small amount of grasses and weed pollen (daisy) were seen. Fungal spores were consistently very low or low. 

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

Durban (KZN)

The pollen may be low, but the very high mould continued to flag up this week, although we had just four days of reading from a faulty clock.Very low overall pollen counts. Grasses and trees were low – a few grains of eucalyptus, cypress and mulberry detected.

Grasses were very low and few weed pollen of English Plantain were identified.Fungal spore levels were extremely high and daily counts of >47 000 were seen for ascospores, but Cladosporium levels exceeded 1 000 spores/day on several days. 

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

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

Fire covering an extensive area close to the spore trap cause large quantities of particulate matter to obscure the catch.Nevertheless, the pollen counts stayed very low. Tree (pine), grass and weed (euphorbia) pollens were all very low.Fungal spore levels increased, with spikes of Alternaria seen and increased ascospores. 

Count: 2 (very low) [Last week: 1 (very 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 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: Mak, 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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