SUPER POLLEN caused by Pollution sending hay fever sufferers crazy
Hay fever is being made worse by “Super Pollen” created by a cocktail of pollution, an expert has warned.
One in five Britons suffer from hay fever which is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen from grass, trees and weeds.
Symptoms include a runny nose, sore, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing.
But Dr Paul Carson of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology said that the impact of pollen is being heightened by it mixing with diesel fumes in the air.
This process can mean it takes lower levels of pollen in the air to cause hay fever and other problems such as asthma.
Dr Carson’s warning was issued as a new study said that microscopic nanoparticles from air pollution can cause fatal heart attacks and strokes.
A team including scientists from Edinburgh University found that the particles released from vehicle exhausts can work their way through the lungs and into the bloodstream, potentially raising the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Last year The Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health said about 40,000 people die prematurely from exposure to air pollution in the UK every year.
But the Government this week delayed publishing court ordered tough new measures to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution, mainly produced by diesel vehicles.
The way air pollution raises the risk of hay fever increases the pressure on Government to act.
Dr Carson said: “Pollution level forecasts may be just as important as pollen counts for hay fever sufferers from now on.
“Big cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow are most likely to create this perfect storm of pollen-pollution hay fever.”
He said vehicle fumes may “cause a smog that blocks pollen grains escaping into the upper atmosphere”.
He added: “It may even make the pollen stickier so that it enters, and stubbornly stays stuck, to vulnerable organs.”
Beverley Adams-Groom of Worcester University’s National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Group confirmed the extra potency of pollen mixed with pollution particles.
She said: “There’s a definite interaction between pollution particles and pollen.
“Various articles suggests that the pollution has an effect on pollen.
“There’s a known effect within the respiratory system whereby lower amounts of pollen can trigger hay fever because of this interaction with the pollution particles.”
The study on nanoparticles was partly funded by the British Heart Foundation which said action to tackle pollution is needed.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said: “There is no doubt that air pollution is a killer, and this study brings us a step closer to solving the mystery of how air pollution damages our cardiovascular health.
“These results emphasise that we must do more to stop people dying needlessly from heart disease caused by air pollution.
“Crucially, individual avoidance of polluted areas is not a solution to the problem. Government must put forward bold measures to make all areas safe and protect the population from harm.”
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom told MPs on Monday that publishing the plan for a pollution crackdown had to be delayed because of the general election.
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