CSTE 2019 Abstract

Allergic respiratory disease places an increasingly large burden on public health systems as its prevalence within the U.S. population and worldwide has steadily increased over the past few decades. Contributing to the increases are elevated personal exposures to aeroallergens as plants respond to extended growing seasons and increased levels of carbon dioxide by producing more pollen with elevated allergenicity. Despite the importance of personal exposure to aeroallergens, there is no coordinated network that can provide aeroallergen data on geographical or temporal scales meaningful to individuals so they can make decisions to decrease their personal exposure. Higher-resolution, both geographically and temporally, counts of pollen, mold, and aerosolized particulate matter may prove more valuable for diagnosis, treatment, and avoidance by those sensitive to aeroallergens. Here we report the first results of a completely automated pollen collection device that reports data within minutes of collection. Data were collected over four years using multiple automated pollen sampler (APS) units manufactured by Pollen Sense (™). In each year, the APS was deployed adjacent to either a Hirst-type spore sampler or a Rotorod ® Sampler for comparison (control equipment). The APS used discernible identification characteristics from high-quality, digital images for automated classification of pollen categories, without the use of pollen stain or mounting medium. Pollen collected by the control equipment was processed according to the National Allergy Bureau (NAB) guidelines.

Data collected at multiple locations in Utah and Texas from January 2019 to March 2019 revealed the total daily pollen count quantified with the APS closely matched those identified with the control equipment. The APS tended to detect peaks in the total daily pollen count prior the control equipment. Additionally, the peaks in total daily pollen counts were detected for longer durations than those quantified using the standard NAB protocol of reporting pollen counts three days a week. {The remaining text in this section has been redacted because it has been submitted as an abstract to an international scientific meeting. Once the abstract has been presented in June, we will include all the results here. Suffice it to say, for the vast majority of the measurements, the APS units had greater signal (i.e. collected more total pollen) than did the control equipment. Furthermore, the APS units were able to correctly identify pollen groups to order and genus at a very convincing rate.}