University of Oulu

Hugg TT, Tuokila M, Korkonen S, Weckström J, Jaakkola MS, Jaakkola JJK (2020) The effect of sampling height on grass pollen concentrations in different urban environments in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0239726.

The effect of sampling height on grass pollen concentrations in different urban environments in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland

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Author: Hugg, TimoT.1,2; Tuokila, Mirkka1; Korkonen, Sanna3;
Organizations: 1Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Environmental Change Research Unit (ECRU), Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Public Library of Science, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-10-13


Introduction: It is important to study potential differences in pollen concentrations between sampling heights because of diverse outdoor and indoor activity of humans (exposure) at different height levels in urban environments. Previous studies have investigated the effect of height on pollen concentrations based on just one or a few sampling points. We studied the effect of sampling height on grass pollen concentrations in several urban environments with different levels of urbanity.

Methods: This study was conducted in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland, in 2013 during the pollen season of grasses. Pollen grains were monitored in eight different points in the morning and afternoon. Rotorod-type samplers were attached on sampling poles at the heights of 1.5 meters and 4 meters.

Results: Grass pollen concentrations were on average higher at the height of 1.5 meters (Helsinki mean 5.24 grains / m³; Espoo mean 75.71 grains / m³) compared to the height of 4 meters (Helsinki mean 3.84 grains / m³; Espoo mean 37.42 grains / m³) with a difference of 1.40 grains / m³ (95% CI -0.21 to 3.01) in Helsinki, and 38.29 grains / m³ (7.52 to 69.07) in Espoo, although not always statistically significant. This was detected both in the morning and in the afternoon. However, in the most urban sites the levels were lower at 1.5 meters compared to 4 meters, whereas in the least urban sites the concentrations were higher at 1.5 meters. In linear regression models with interaction terms, the modifying effect of urbanity on concentration-height relation was statistically significant in both cities. The effect of urbanity on pollen concentrations at both heights was stronger in less urban Espoo.

Conclusions: The present study provides evidence that height affects the abundance and distribution of grass pollen in urban environments, but this effect depends on the level of urbanity.

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Series: PLoS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
ISSN-E: 1932-6203
ISSN-L: 1932-6203
Volume: 15
Issue: 9
Article number: e0239726
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239726
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: This work was funded by the Research Council for Health, the Academy of Finland [grant numbers 266314 (JJ) and 267995 (JJ; APTA Consortium;] and the University of Oulu Strategic Funding (JJ;
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 266314
Detailed Information: 266314 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
267995 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Dataset Reference: All relevant data are within the manuscript and its Supporting Information files.
Copyright information: © 2020 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.