THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: High concentrations seen in Cape Town and Johannesburg

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Amid the highest recorded pollen counts in history, Health24 will be bringing you exclusive pollen count updates courtesy of the UCT Lung Institute's Allergy and Immunology Unit.

Here are the major city updates for 19 August:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

Grass and weed pollen counts were low. Tree levels have breached the significant threshold and were high, with cypress (Cupressaceae) as the dominant pollen type detected. Other tree pollen present in lower concentrations were acacia (Acacia sp.), Australian pine (Casaurina sp.), pine (Pinaceae), mulberry (Moraceae), gum (Myrtaceae), oak (Quercus sp.) and karee (Rhus sp. / Searsia sp.). Weed pollen detected included the daisy family (Asteraceae), the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae), ericas (Ericaceae), knotweed (Polygonaceae) and nettles (Urticaceae). Moulds levels were low.

Count: 126 (very high) 

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Grass and weed pollen counts were low. Tree pollen was moderate and included acacia (Acacia sp.), birch (Betula sp.), Australian pine (Casaurina sp.), cypress (Cupressaceae), ash (Fraxinus sp.), mulberry (Moraceae), gum (Myrtaceae), pine (Pinaceae), plane (Platanus sp.), poplar (Populus sp.), oak (Quercus sp.), karee (Rhus sp. / Searsia sp.) and willow (Salix sp.). Weed pollen detected was the daisy family (Asteraceae sp.), amaranths (Amaranthus sp.), the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae), ericas (Ericaceae), spurges (Euphorbiaceae), mallows (Malvaceae), ferns (Polypodiaceae), sorrel (Rumex sp.) and the mezereum family (Thymelaceae). Mould levels were low.

*The tree pollen cycle is relatively short, but athletes sensitised to tree pollen should try to exercise (walk, run, cycle) in flat areas where the tree cover is sparse.

Count: 37 (high) 

Pretoria (Gauteng)

The pollen findings were not received by The Lung Institute in Cape Town in time for posting so the previous week’s findings are repeated here. Tree, grass and weed pollen levels were low. Trees included birch (Betula sp.), karee (Rhus sp. / Searsia sp.), cypress (Cupressaceae) and pine (Pinaceae). Weeds included the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae) and the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Moulds were low.

Count: 4 (low) 

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Grass, tree, weed and mould levels were low during this sampling period. Karee (Rhus sp. / Searsia sp.) was the only tree pollen detected. Weed pollen included the daisy family (Asteraceae) and goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae).

Count: 3 (low) 

Kimberley (Northern Cape)

Tree, grass and weed pollen levels were very low. Only cypress (Cupressaceae) pollen was detected. The only weed seen was slangbos (Stoebe-type). Moulds were low. Geophytes and charcoal from grass burning was seen in moderate quantities.

Count: 1 (very low) 

Durban (KZN)

Tree, grass and weed pollen levels were low. Trees detected included birch (Betulaceae), cypress (Cupressaceae), mulberry (Moraceae) and pine (Pinaceae). Weeds seen were the daisy family (Asteraceae) and nettle (Urticaceae). Moulds were generally low with a spike for ascospores following rain.

Count: 2 (very low) 

Gqeberha (Eastern Cape)

Grass, tree and weed pollen counts were low. Tree pollen included acacia (Acacia sp.), cedar (Cedrus sp.), Australian pine (Casaurina sp.), cypress (Cupressaceae), gum (Myrtaceae), pine (Pinaceae) and olive (Oleaceae). Spurges (Euphorbiaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae) were the two weed pollens detected. Mould levels were low.

Count: 3 (low) 

See the full report HERE.

Reference ranges:

Overall, Trees, Grasses and Weeds all use the same values (grains per cubic metres of air)

Overall count is the daily average of pollen grains per cubic metres of air (trees plus grasses plus weeds).
In partnership with the the UCT Lung Institute's Allergy and Immunology Unit.

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