Pollen allergy is having a major impact worldwide. We probably know more than one person around us who experiences its characteristic symptoms with the arrival of the spring.

Some authors consider allergic diseases a major public health issue. Estimates of the economic burden range from 55 to 151 billion EUR in 2007 (Zuberbier et al., 2014). Furthermore, the prevalence of allergy to pollen is estimated at 40% in the general population within Europe. (D’Amato et al., 2007).

There is a great variety of trees in Andalusia that produce pollen, some of which have great potential to cause allergic reactions. Trees in urban green spaces play a very significant role in causing most of these conditions. Martínez-Bracero et al., in their paper from 2015, explain about the importance of understanding when peaks of pollen occur in urban trees, and by acknowledging the ecology of these trees, how to design better green spaces with lower allergenic potential.

In Granada, for example, the Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sp.) reaches pollen peaks from January to March. Other plants like pines (Pinus sp.), the Andalusian oak (Quercus sp.), grasses (Poaceae sp.) and olive trees (Olea sp.) reach their highest levels from March to July. In places with coastal climate, like Cadiz, pollen seasons start earlier. It is important to tailor interventions to the specific conditions of each geographical region. It is also important to mention that all these plants are very present in daily Andalusian life and have a great aesthetic and traditional importance for the population.

Climate change is increasingly affecting plant ecology. For example, elevated carbon levels in the atmosphere can lead to early production of pollen, and rising temperatures can expand the distribution of certain types of pollen to areas where it used to be uncommon (Lake et al., 2017).

Involving the population in the design of green spaces with a health perspective is part of the strategies to mitigate climate change. The conscious management of public spaces can create healthier environments for the population.

The Salud Responde programme from the Regional Ministry of Health and Consumption is already informing more than six million registered users about the expected maximum levels of allergens. This campaign aims to inform the population what measures should be adopted to prevent allergy symptoms.




Carlos Adrián Vargas Campos
Research Assistant
Complutense University of Madrid