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Towards the Integrated Assessment of Human Exposure to Grass Pollen in Urban Environments

Peel, Robert (2013) Towards the Integrated Assessment of Human Exposure to Grass Pollen in Urban Environments. PhD thesis, University of Worcester in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University.

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Abstract

Pollen allergy affects a substantial proportion of the European population, and in many European countries the greatest rates of sensitisation are found for grass pollen allergen. Pollen allergy incidence rates tend to be greater in urban than in rural areas, likely due in part to the effects of urban air pollution on the allergy-causing potential of pollen grains. Background pollen concentrations measured at roof level monitoring stations are typically used as a proxy for exposure, but may differ considerably from the exposure experienced by allergy sufferers. In a 2003 report on phenology, the World Health Organisation highlighted the need for an improved understanding of the relationship between pollen monitoring station data and actual personal exposure. Four studies are presented in this thesis. Three of these address three different aspects of urban exposure to grass pollen, whilst the fourth supporting study concerns pollen sampler effciency. In Study A, the relative efficiency relationships between three models of pollen sampler were established under field conditions, and effciency correction factors derived. These factors enable the quantitative comparison of data collected with different samplers, as is often necessary during exposure assessment. The results contribute to Study B, in which background grass pollen concentrations measured at roof level were compared with those at street level within an urban canyon. A tendency for lower concentrations within the canyon was observed, consistent with the deposition of pollen from the recycling component of within-canyon air, and indicating that monitoring station data typically overestimates exposure in the canyon environment. In Study C, grass pollen dose rates estimated through personal sampling were compared with monitoring station data, and dose rate/background concentration ratios determined. These ratios, which as far as the author is aware have not been reported previously, may be used to estimate inhaled pollen dose from monitoring station data. In Study D, diurnal grass pollen concentration profiles were shown to vary systematically throughout the pollen season, with this variation apparently associated with a succession of different grass species with different flowering patterns dominating pollen emission as the season progresses. Profles averaged over entire seasons are commonly used to advise allergy sufferers on avoidance strategies, however such systematic intra-seasonal variation is not thought to have previously been demonstrated. As far as the author is aware, each of these four studies represents a novel contribution to the area of pollen exposure assessment. As a body of work, this thesis furthermore lays foundations for the development of a human exposure model for grass pollen, an important constituent of an integrated pollen exposure assessment strategy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University's requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Originally deposited as National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU)

Uncontrolled Keywords: pollen allergy, grass pollen, atmospheric pollen, urban environments, seasonal variation, human exposure, allergy sufferers, pollen exposure assessment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Science and the Environment
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2014 09:14
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2016 10:33
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/3056

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