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Association Between Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis and Air Pollution, Meteorological Factors, and Grass Pollen Counts in Madrid (1996 and 2009)

Cabrera M1, Garzón García B2, Moreno-Grau S3, Subiza J4

1Consulta de Alergia Hospital Los Madroños, Brunete, Spain
2Unidad de Estadística, Secretaría Adjunta de Informática, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain
3Departamento de Ingeniería Química y Ambiental, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Spain
4Clínica Subiza, Madrid, Spain

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2019; Vol 29(5) : 371-377
doi: 10.18176/jiaci.0368

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between meteorological and pollution-related variables and the symptoms of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis due to sensitization to grass pollen during 2 different time periods in Madrid, Spain.
Methods: Between March 23 and December 31 in 1996 and 2009, we carried out a daily count of grass pollen grains (Burkard spore trap) and recorded the rhinitis symptom scores in 2 groups of patients with a history of seasonal allergic rhinitis (n=25 in 1996 and n=23 in 2009). Descriptive statistics of the same variables during the study periods were recorded. Associations between variables were assessed using the paired-samples Wilcoxon test and categorical principal component analysis (CatPCA, SPSS24 package).
Results: The mean symptom score was low in 1996 and moderate in 2009. The 1996 and 2009 CatPCA analysis explained around 66.4% and 70.5% of the variance, respectively. The strongest relationships in 1996 were between symptoms and grass pollen counts (R=0.55) and between temperature and ozone (R=0.63). In 2009, the association between temperature and pollution-related variables was even stronger than in 1996 (ozone [R=0.53] and PM10 [R=0.34], with a positive sign in both cases).
Conclusions: The effect of temperature and pollution (mainly ozone, even at lower atmospheric concentrations than in established guidelines for effects on health) may have contributed to the higher seasonal allergic rhinitis symptom score recorded in 2009.

Key words: Grass pollen grains, Pollution, Temperature, Ozone, Categorical principal component analysis