New pollen monitoring to help asthmatics

A new national pollen monitoring and warning system is set to blow away the risk of hay fever for the hundreds of thousands of Australians with asthma.

Spring is just a couple of weeks away and brings with it increased levels of pollen - marking the start of hay fever season.

For the 1.8 million Australians with asthma, hay fever can trigger a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.

In a bid to save lives, new standardised pollen monitoring and reporting will begin on September 1.

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Don't blame the Wattle: The real causes of hayfever

"Is it the wattle?

Not necessarily, says Associate Professor Janet Davies, from Queensland University of Technology's School of Biomedical Sciences.

Many of us associate hayfever with pollen from trees that come into flower in late winter and early spring (we're looking at you wattle). But wattle may be unfairly maligned in the allergy blame game, Professor Davies says."

"Grass pollen

On the other hand, grass pollen — our most common outdoor airborne allergen — doesn't fall straight down; it gets carried on wind and can travel vast differences. And grasses flower at different times of the year in different parts of the country.

"We don't have a uniform pollen season," says Professor Davies, whose research focuses on grass pollen allergies.

"We have different types of grasses in different places [within Australia] and they have different drivers for production of the pollen in the air."

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Relief in sight for allergy sufferers with new Australia-wide pollen monitoring system

A nationwide program aimed at giving allergy sufferers more advanced warning about the likely seriousness of their symptoms could provide relief to Elly Kirkham and her brother Jake.

The Brisbane siblings both suffer from asthma and allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, while Elly, 18, is at risk of anaphylaxis from peanuts and Jake, 14, from shellfish.

They have suffered from constant runny noses, swelling, and itchy and watery eyes their entire lives.

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