What you have told us about hay fever in Melbourne and Canberra

Dec. 16, 2019

In a nutshell, the main factor in Canberra and Melbourne determining how bad everyone's hay fever symptoms are is how much grass pollen is in the air.

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We first released our apps in Melbourne and Canberra back in 2014. The interest in them has been enormous and the survey that lets users record their daily symptoms on a 5-point scale has been a popular feature.

It's a simple survey that was designed to be completed 'in a single breath'. And because you've been happy to participate we've now received tens of thousands of responses as a result.

Asking the community to contribute directly to scientific research is called Citizen Science.

We've now published a paper in the journal 'Science of the Total Environment' that describes what we have learned about hay fever - technically known as allergic rhinitis - from this Citizen Science experiment.

In a nutshell, the main factor in Canberra and Melbourne determining how bad everyone's hay fever symptoms are is how much grass pollen is in the air.

That's what today's picture shows: the average symptom scores for the day in Canberra (red) and Melbourne (black) rise as the average daily grass pollen level in these cities rise.

And this relationship between grass pollen and symptom score holds good even for people living some distance away from the trap site.

That is, the average symptoms scores reported by people living up to 50 km from the Melbourne trap and 20 km from the Canberra trap are the same as those reported by people living much closer.

That's good news because it tells us that, even though Canberra and Melbourne had only one pollen monitoring site each, the data that site was recording was meaningful for a large tract of the surrounding country.

There's much more detail in the paper, which you are welcome to read or download from here. No sign up, registration or fees are required.

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