University of Oulu

Hugg TT, Hjort J, Antikainen H, Rusanen J, Tuokila M, Korkonen S, et al. (2017) Urbanity as a determinant of exposure to grass pollen in Helsinki Metropolitan area, Finland. PLoS ONE12(10): e0186348.

Urbanity as a determinant of exposure to grass pollen in Helsinki Metropolitan area, Finland

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Author: Hugg, Timo T.1,2; Hjort, Jan3; Antikainen, Harri3;
Organizations: 1Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research, University of Oulu
2Medical Research Center Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu
3Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu
4Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Public Library of Science, 2017
Publish Date: 2017-11-21


Little is known about the levels of exposure to grass pollen in urban environments. We assessed the spatio-temporal variation of grass pollen concentrations and the role of urbanity as a determinant of grass pollen exposure in the Helsinki Metropolitan area. We monitored grass pollen concentrations in 2013 at 16 sites during the peak pollen season by using rotorod-type samplers at the breathing height. The sites were in the cities of Helsinki and Espoo, Finland, and formed city-specific lines that represented urban-rural gradient. The monitoring sites were both visually and based on land use data ranked as high to low (graded 1 to 8) pollen area. The lowest grass pollen concentrations were observed in the most urban sites compared to the least urban sites (mean 3.6 vs. 6.8 grains/m³ in Helsinki; P<0.0001, and 5.2 vs. 87.5 grains/m³ in Espoo; P<0.0001). Significant differences were observed between concentrations measured in morning periods compared to afternoon periods (4.9 vs. 5.4 in Helsinki, P = 0.0186, and 21.8 vs. 67.1 in Espoo, P = 0.0004). The mean pollen concentration increased with decreasing urbanity both in Helsinki (0.59 grains/m³ per urbanity rank, 95% CI 0.25–0.93) and Espoo (8.42, 6.23–10.61). Pollen concentrations were highest in the afternoons and they were related to the ambient temperature. Urbanity was a strong and significant determinant of pollen exposure in two Finnish cities. Pollen exposure can periodically reach such high levels even in the most urban environments that can cause allergic reactions among individuals with allergies.

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Series: PLoS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
ISSN-E: 1932-6203
ISSN-L: 1932-6203
Volume: 12
Issue: 10
Article number: e0186348
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186348
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
1172 Environmental sciences
519 Social and economic geography
Dataset Reference: S1 Data. The Helsinki grass pollen data 2013.
Copyright information: © 2017 Hugg et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.