Pollen allergy and respirable dust 2

Pollen and respirable dust - mutual allergy triggers?

A strong increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases has been observed in the recent decades. The impact on human health ranges from heyfever and conjunctivitis, atopic dermatitis to severe forms of allergic asthma and anaphylactic shock.

The main causative agents of allergic diseases are aeroallergens such as certain tree and grass pollen, fungal spores, house dust mite, and animal dander. Furthermore, food allergies have strongly increased in recent years.

Although up to now the relationship between allergy and respirable dust has been examined very little, there are some publication that indicate that there could be a relationship between an increased spread of allergic diseases and environmental pollution on one hand and a correlation between allergenicity and the severity of pollution on the other hand.

This research project was a follow-up and extension project of the Sparkling Science project: „Pollen & Feinstaub - gemeinsame Allergieauslöser?“, which was granted for the period 2012-2014. The central research question of this project was the influence of environmental pollution on allergens and their allergy eliciting potential. In addition to the continuation of ongoing research activities, a major topic of this project was the investigation of respirable dust exposure in various daily life situations, including in-door and outdoor settings. For this purpose a handheld aerosol spectrometer was used. Furthermore we extended the immunological investigations to the cross-reactivity between food and pollen allergens.

Environmental pollution and allergy are both central topics in the high school curriculum, both topics are ideally suited for a student centered approach and thus have great potential to evoke interest for these and related scientific topics among the students.

The here described project had the aim to investigate – together with the students – the correlation between common allergy triggering substances and the environmental pollution sources common in our area. Students and teachers were actively involved in all the project phases. The formative and summative project evaluation accompanied the project and focused on the learning processes of all the partners during the project.

This project has been completed.