The number of people in Switzerland suffering from pollen allergies has risen dramatically. Today, around 20% of the population has an allergic reaction to pollen.
Epidemiological studies across the world show that allergies in general have tripled over the last 30 years, according to the CHUV hospital in Lausanne.
Pollen allergies are an immune system reaction to something that is not harmful, triggering the release of a chemical called histamine, which causes many of the symptoms that go with allergies.
Meteo Swiss currently provides a pollen forecast to help people manage their allergies and the medication some take. However, the current data for this comes from a highly manual process and technology that cannot provide realtime readings – collection and analysis of samples currently takes a week.
To improve the usefulness of the information, Meteo Swiss is experimenting with technology that can collect and analyse airborne pollen in realtime allowing patients to better regulate their use of allergy related drugs, according to RTS.
The pollen season can be broken down into three categories: tree pollen, pollen from herbaceous plants and grass pollen – grasses are a subset of herbaceous plants.
In Switzerland, the tree pollen season starts at the end of January and runs until May. Grass pollen season starts in May and runs until the end of July and the herbaceous plant pollen season from July until the end of September. A more precise calendar can be viewed here.