Background: Very few studies on human exposure to allergenic pollen have been conducted using direct methods, with background concentrations measured at city center monitoring stations typically taken as a proxy for exposure despite the inhomogeneous nature of atmospheric pollen concentrations. A 2003 World Health Organization report highlighted the need for an improved understanding of the relation between monitoring station data and actual exposure. Objective: To investigate the relation between grass pollen dose and background concentrations measured at a monitoring station, to assess the fidelity of monitoring station data as a qualitative proxy for dose, and to evaluate the ratio of dose rate to background concentration. Methods: Grass pollen dose data were collected in Aarhus, Denmark, in an area where grass pollen sources were prevalent, using Nasal Air Samplers. Sample collection lasted for approximately 25 to 30 minutes and was performed at 2-hour intervals from noon to midevening under moderate exercise by 2 individuals. Results: A median ratio of dose rate to background concentration of 0.018 was recorded, with higher ratio values frequently occurring at 12 to 2 PM, the time of day when grass species likely to be present in the area are expected to flower. From 4 to 8 PM, dose rate and background concentration data were found to be strongly and significantly correlated (r(s) = 0.81). Averaged dose rate and background concentration data showed opposing temporal trends. Conclusion: Where local emissions are not a factor, background concentration data constitute a good quantitative proxy for inhaled dose. The present ratio of dose rate to background concentration may aid the study of dose-response relations.
Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 2013, Vol 111, Issue 6, p. 548-554