In the USA alone, there are approximately 50 million individuals that suffer from sensitivities during the pollen season. As US consumers reach spending of $18 billion a year on allergy medications to combat their physical symptoms, pollen allergies represent a widespread irritation across all levels of society.
What’s more, the pollen problem is not going away. In fact, some experts predict that pollen levels will double by 2040 as a result of elevated carbon dioxide concentrations in the air associated with climate change. These trends underline the growing need to provide reliable pollen data to the public, both now and in the future.
Read on to learn more about the specific challenges involved in measuring and forecasting pollen levels and discover how our team at BreezoMeter is addressing these challenges head on.
What is Pollen?
To the naked eye, pollen is a fine and powdery yellow substance. An individual grain can only be observed with a microscope because the size is so small, usually smaller than a strand of human hair. Pollen comes from the male part of many plants’ reproductive system and is produced by any seed-producing plant type, not just flowering plants as many believe.
Allergic pollen can be produced by specific grass, weeds, or trees, and gets moved around by insects, wind, and water. Importantly, we care more about the grains dispersed by the wind as they get transported in larger amounts, making it more likely that pollen enters our airways and triggers an allergic reaction. Pollen levels are usually at their highest during dry, hot weather and at their lowest when it rains.
Gathering Pollen Level Data: The Challenges
Gathering accurate information for pollen levels at the local level has presented a complex problem for a long time. In order to deliver hyper-local information, we need detailed knowledge of the local landscape and which types of pollen-emitting plants are in the area. Additionally, pollen emission is affected greatly by local climate and weather patterns, as well as generally more unpredictable atmospheric trends which occur as a result of climate change, which means we also need up to date information on these factors.
The complexity involved in pollen tracking helps to explain why it has been difficult to accurately forecast or define general pollen seasons for specific areas of the world. Large areas of the world have no pollen count data measurement devices in place at all, and in most countries where measurements are carried out, the methods involved have been manual and time-consuming. The delay between measurement and reporting can take as long as two weeks, by which time pollen count levels could have changed dramatically.
Solving the Data Gap: BreezoMeter’s Pollen Feed
Just as we did with air quality, our team at BreezoMeter has applied a big data approach to pollen forecasting to produce accurate and location-specific pollen data in a way that hasn’t been seen before. We do this by drawing from a range of different data sources such as climate data, weather forecasts, local monitoring stations where possible, vegetation land cover databases, and more. The end result is the most considered and up-to-date model of pollen data that exists in the world today, and we’re working to extend coverage all the time. Our coverage includes USA, Japan and Europe, as well as other countries, and currently counts for 3.4 billion people, ⅓ of the world’s total population!
Visual Chart of BreezoMeter’s Pollen Data Model
How Companies Can Make Use of Location-Specific Pollen Level Data
With so much of the world’s population affected in some way by pollen-related allergies, the arrival of sophisticated pollen count data can help companies across many verticals improve their product offering in a personalized and digitally transformative way.
ALK, a leading global pharmaceutical company based in Denmark, is already making use of BreezoMeter’s data in their mobile app, Klara. Their pollen-sensitive users can receive location-based pollen information and forecasts to help them make informed decisions on handling their allergies. The app provides custom alerts to notify users when the pollen count is particularly high or low outside, while inbuilt allergy logs help individuals learn which allergens they might be particularly sensitive to.
BreezoMeter’s pollen data feed stands out not just for its precision but also for the sophisticated visualizations it provides businesses looking to make use of this information. With dynamically changing heatmaps, companies have an invaluable tool at their disposal for incorporating within their products or marketing material.
WATCH THE WEBINAR: The Ultimate Business Guide to Pollen Data
If you’re interested in diving into BreezoMeter’s pollen data in more detail, our brand new pollen data focused webinar is for you.
Dr. Amir Paster, Environmental Modeling Specialist, and Amit Safir, Partnerships Manager at BreezoMeter, elaborate further on the ABC’s of pollen, why this is a problem that needs to be solved, and specific business use cases that make use of our pollen count data feed: Watch the webinar here.