THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Low to moderate levels seen across South Africa

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 8 January:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

Grasses declined to low levels. Low tree pollen detected included gum (Myrtaceae) pine (Pinus) and white stinkwood (Celtis spp). Weed levels were low and sedges (Cyperus) bulrush (Typha), English Plantain (Plantago) and sorrel (Rumex) were detected. Moulds were generally low with small spikes for Alternaria following rain.

Count: 9 (moderate) 

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Grasses increased during this period to breach the significant threshold on some of the days. Low tree pollen levels detected included Australian pine (Casuarina) white mulberry (Morus) gum (Myrtaceae) and white stinkwood (Celtis). Low weed levels included the daisy family (Asteraceae) English Plantain (Plantago) sorrel (Rumex and ferns (Polypod). Moulds were low

Count: 10 (moderate) 

Pretoria (Gauteng)

Due to the site being inaccessible over the holiday period, no pollen counts are available for this site. We apologise for the inconvenience.

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Grass counts increased at this site and although the mean count remained below the threshold, significant counts were detected on some days. Trees flowered strongly following rain and the following trees were identified: Olive, oak, Rhus/Searsia, acacia, buddleja and white stinkwood. In the weed/herbaceous shrub category, only daisy pollen was observed. Moulds remained low.

Count: 10 (moderate) 

Kimberley (Northern Cape)

Significant grass levels were seen. Low tree (olive and Casuarina) and weeds (ferns) were seen. Mould levels were low. Alternaria increased after slight rain and approached but did not exceed the significant threshold.

Count: 1 (very low) 

Durban (KZN)

High mould counts were detected during a sampling week of humidity levels >85%. Very high ascospore levels were seen and basidiospores, Epicoccum and Cladosporium levels increased. Grasses increased and although the average daily count was low, the count exceeded the significant threshold at times. Tree pollen increased and included birch, Rhus, acacia, white stinkwood and olive. Weed pollen levels also increased as daisy, ferns and Parietaria were seen.

Count: 12 (moderate) 

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

Grass levels were low. Low tree levels included waxberry (Morella), gum (Myrtaceae), the sumac and cashew and family (Anacardiaceae) olive (Olea spp) and Australian pine (Casuarina). Weeds were similarly low and Erica (Erica spp), the daisy family (Asteraceae) the pink and carnation family (Caryophyllaceae) sedges (Cyperus) pigweed  (Amaranthus) and Passerina, gonnabush (Thymelaeaceae). Moulds were low with small spikes for basidiospores (includes mushrooms).

Count: 7 (moderate) 

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.

As the pollen problem worsens, precise and expanded monitoring becomes even more essential. And here's how you can help.

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