Every spring, when the weather gets warmer and days get longer, people start going outside to enjoy the first rays of sun after the long winter. But for a growing number of people, this pleasant face of spring is almost fantasy: for them the season means teary eyes, frequent sneezes, breathing problems and antihistamines. Such is daily life in spring for people who are allergic to pollen.
Pollen allergies are a growing problem in the developed world: with the combined effect of pollution and a warmer climate, allergy seasons are becoming longer and more severe than the past, affecting more and more people. In this context, gathering information on the amount of pollen and their allergy risk can give a big contribution to help doctors minimise their impact: very often, information on the risk of allergy to pollen and fungal spores is a first level of response allowing allergists to develop diagnostics and allergy sufferers to anticipate their intake of medicines.
This is the objective of newly released EN 16868:2019 ‘Ambient air - Sampling and analysis of airborne pollen grains and fungal spores for networks related to allergy - Volumetric Hirst method’, which deals with the analysis of the airborne pollen and fungal spores to provide information about allergy risk.
In particular, the standard specifies the procedure to sample continuously and to analyse the concentration of airborne pollen grains and fungal spores in ambient air using the volumetric Hirst type sampler or an equivalent method assuring comparable data. Central to the procedure is the definition of the performance characteristics for pollen and fungal spores counts.
The standard responds to a need for a common language: in the wider Europe, it is possible to count 400 pollen monitoring stations in nearly 30 countries. In this context, EN 16868 sets common rules to allow these many stations to work together and compare their results. The new standard provides invaluable help to persons with allergies, who will be able to minimise their impact and start enjoying spring again!
EN 16868:2019 was developed by CEN/TC 264 ‘Air quality’, whose Secretariat is currently held by DIN, the German Standardization Institute.
For more information, please contact Andrea NAM.