THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Pass the tissue – high levels in Joburg, Bloem, Kimberley this week

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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 25 February:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

Overall counts of grass, weed and tree pollen were low. Tree pollen of elm (Ulmus), gum (Eucalyptus), karee (Rhus) and pepper tree (Schinus sp.) were detected. Weed pollen of the daisy family (Asteraceae), waxberry (Morella), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae), English plantain (Plantago), erica (Ericaceae), aloe (Asphodelaceae), nettle (Urticaceae) and fern spores (Polypodiacea) were present. Mould counts were also low.

Count: 3 (low) 

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Grass counts were high. Tree counts were low, with pollen from acacia (Acacia sp.), pine (Pinus), bush willow (Combretaceae), birch (Betula), cypress (Cupressaceae), mulberry (Moraceae), gum (Eucalyptus), plain tree (Platanus), poplar (Populus), kareeboom (Rhus / Searsia), Australian pine (Casuarina) and oak (Quercus) were detected.

Weed counts were also low, with erica (Ericaceae), euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae), fern (Polypodiaceae) and pollen from the daisy family (Asteraceae) present. Moulds were low.

Count: 38 (high) 

Pretoria (Gauteng)

Grasses increased to moderate levels. Tree levels were low and included the types kareeboom (Searsia/Rhus) bush willow (Combretaceae) and mulberry (Morus spp). Weeds were very low and the types detected were English Plantain (Plantaginaceae) the daisy family (Asteraceae) and goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae) were detected. Moulds were low.

Count: 12 (moderate) 

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Grasses were high. Tree levels were low as kareeboom (Searsia/Rhus), pine (Pinaceae), waxberry (Morella) and elm (Ulmaceae) were detected. Weed levels were also low and the types detected included the daisy family (Asteraceae), protea (Proteaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae) and ferns (Polypodiaceae). Moulds were low.

Count: 32 (high) 

Kimberley (Northern Cape)

Grass levels were high. Very low tree levels were seen and only karee (Rhus/Searsia) was detected. Weeds were low and the types detected were the daisy family (Asteraceae), ragweed (Ambrosia spp). Sorrel (Polygonaceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae) and the pink or carnation family (Caryophyllaceae). Moulds were low.

Count: 34 (high) 

Durban (KZN)

Grass counts were low. Tree and weed pollen counts were also low, with a spike in pollen recorded on the last day of this sampling period. The tree pollen types of mulberry (Moraceae), stinkwood (Ulmus) and gum (Myrtaceae) were detected. Weed pollen included English plantain (Plantago), erica (Ericaceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae) and pollen from the daisy family (Asteraceae). Moulds were low until the last day of the sampling period, when the fungal load increased.

Count: 14 (moderate) 

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

Grass tree and weed pollen levels were all very low during this samplng period. Only Australian pine (Casuarina) and waxberry (Morella) were detected in the category of trees. Weed pollen included the pink or carnation family (Caryophyllaceae) and the daisy family (Asteraceae). Moulds were low.

Count: 0 (very 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.

As the pollen problem worsens, precise and expanded monitoring becomes even more essential. 

And here's how you can help.

Image: Getty/Francesco Carta fotografo

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