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Pollen tracker upgrade gives more power to the people ahead of hay fever season

Michael Black, Sunday September 9, 2018 - 06:42 EST
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Pollen warriors are already springing into action as hay fever season kicks in. - ABC

There's some good news to come out of Australia's drier-than-average winter.

It was the .

But for anyone who suffers from springtime sniffles, a dry winter means a lower than average pollen count come spring.

Dr Simon Haberle from ANU's Canberra Pollen Monitoring Program has tentatively predicted a less-severe season.

"That applies to some of the grasses and things like that," he told

"Ryegrasses is number one in the Canberra region for allergies.

"The beginning of the season, when we really start to see the numbers pick up in our counts, is around the last week of September."

The monitoring program compiled historical forecasts from the past 10 years to develop accurate pollen count predictions.

Researchers have now developed a major upgrade to their which will provide users with much more data.

"We send out information daily about where the high pollen counts are and what different species are being counted," Dr Haberle said.

"Normally we just report grass levels and total pollen levels.

"We'll be enriching the pollen site and the data available to include other pollen types this season."

Future fight against hay fever

The team also collected data from users about how they use the pollen information for their own wellbeing and to alleviate allergies.

Hay fever sufferers have been prompted to report their symptoms, to enable creators to improve predictions and advice.

Enhancements to the seven-day pollen forecast are expected to help people plan ahead.

"Whether that's covering up, staying inside, closing windows or taking medication that your doctor might recommend," Dr Haberle said.

"The more you know about something like pollen and the impact it has on you, the the better you are at managing that condition."

It could extend as far as landscaping projects or even choosing where to live.

European trees such as elm, larch and oak are notorious for provoking allergic reactions and can be found on many streets around Canberra.

The start of the pollen season is monitored by researchers every year to see if there are any changes.

Dr Haberle said bushfires in winter and vicious summer storms could be ominous for hay fever sufferers.

"Pollen will probably have the same behaviour if the climate continues to change the way it is," he said.

"You can match all this historical data against the climate data and then improve predictions."

Two versions of the Pollen Count app, one for Canberra and one for Victoria, have been developed.

Researchers have also contributed to the AirRater app developed by Tasmanian company Sense-T and the Australian Government.


© ABC 2018

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