Ragweed Pollen Alert System: an example of good collaboration within neighbouring countries – a case study

Location

The Ragweed Pollen Alert System (R-PAS) was set up in 2014 in Hungary and neighbouring countries.

Reason for initiation

Common ragweed is widespread in central-eastern Europe. Almost 60% of allergic patients in Hungary suffer from ragweed pollen allergy. It is very important that patients and medical experts are informed about the airborne pollen concentration to support better prevention and care. Ragweed finds its optimal living conditions in the Pannonian climatic region (this covers an area including eastern Austria, northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, northern Croatia, western Hungary, north-western Serbia, western Slovakia and northern Slovenia).

Strategies in place or planned

R-PAS is based on daily pollen measurements carried out using standardized methodology by the contributing monitoring stations. Maps indicate the spatial distribution of each week's average airborne pollen concentration categories (grains/m3). White indicates "no pollen" (0); green a low level – "no alert" (1–9); yellow a moderate level – "alert level" (10–29); orange and ochre high levels – "first stage alarm" (30–49 and 50–99); red, deep red and black very high levels – "second stage alarm" (100–199, 200–499 and 500–999); and magenta an extremely high level – "third stage alarm" (>1000).

Outcomes and next steps

The maps are updated weekly on the websites of the contributing countries in English and in the national languages. Special advice for personal risk reduction is given according to the different concentration categories. A plan is in place to issue invitations to join the system, over a period of time, to monitoring stations in the Carpathian Basin, the Danube Region and finally the European Region.

Organization(s) involved 

  • Aerobiology and Pollen Information Research Unit, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
  • European Aeroallergen Network
  • Hungarian Aerobiological Network of National Public Health and Medical Officer Service, Hungary
  • Institute of Public Health, Osijek, Croatia
  • Institute of Public Health of Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Institute of Public Health "Sveti Rok", Service for Health Ecology, Virovitica, Croatia
  • Laboratory for Palynology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
  • Laboratory for Aerobiology, Dr Andrija Stampar Institute of Public Health, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Medical University of Sofia, Sofia, Bulgaria