Spatial distribution of pollen-induced symptoms within a large metropolitan area—Berlin, Germany
-Abstract: Large spatial differences in the distribution of three allergologically relevant pollen types for Central Europe—birch, grass, and mugwort—are revealed within a large metropolitan area—Berlin, Germany. The purpose of the study is an examination of the hypothesis that these different pollen exposure conditions can cause different degrees of pollen-induced symptoms within the city. Pollen data from 14 gravimetric traps and one volumetric trap in Berlin and anonymously reported pollen-induced symptom data from the online-based self-documentation tool “Patient’s Hayfever Diary” (PHD) are used for the analysis of temporal and spatial variations of the severity of the overall total symptoms. Geographically localised symptom data are linked to the nearest pollen trap. Statistical analysis is performed using Kendall’s Tau-b. Higher amounts of monitored birch and grass pollen in the peripheral areas of Berlin induce stronger symptoms in PHD users located within suburbs than those located in the city centre. There is no statistical relationship between the varying presence of mugwort pollen in the air and the severity of symptoms. Spatial differences in the pollen-induced symptom severity within a large city coinciding with spatial differences in birch and grass pollen depositions are shown for the first time. Therefore, pollen data from a single trap may not provide an appropriate explanation for differences in pollen-induced symptoms across the city. More detailed and reliable information about the exposure to allergenic pollen can be addressed by installing further traps in order to improve the knowledge about pollen exposure within cities.