Characterization of allergen emission sources in urban areas

Paloma Cariñanos, Cristiano Adinolfi, Consuelo Díaz de la Guardia, Concepción De Linares, Manuel Casares-Porcel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


© American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA. Pollen released by urban flora-a major contributor to airborne allergen content during the pollen season-has a considerable adverse impact on human health. Using aerobiological techniques to sample and characterize airborne biological particulate matter (BPM), we can identify the main species contributing to the pollen spectrum and chart variations in counts and overall pollen dynamics throughout the year. However, given the exponential increase in the number of pollen allergy sufferers in built-up areas, new strategies are required to improve the biological quality of urban air. This paper reports on a novel characterization of the potential allergenicity of the tree species most commonly used as ornamentals in Mediterranean cities. Values were assigned to each species based on a number of intrinsic features including pollination strategy, pollen season duration, and allergenic capacity as reported in the specialist literature. Findings were used to generate a database in which groups of conifers, broadleaves, and palm trees were assigned a value of between 0 and 36, enabling their allergenicity to be rated as nil, low, moderate, high, or very high. The case study presented here focuses on the city of Granada in southern Spain. The major airborne-pollen-producing species were identified and the allergenicity of species growing in urban green zones was estimated. Corrective measures are proposed to prevent high allergen levels and thus improve biological air quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-252
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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