High pollen count predicted

The warm spring air at the weekend contained the highest concentration of birch pollen for several years, according to measurments taken in Stockholm and Gothenburg.

“We reckon the pollen count will remain very high,” said pollen expert, Agneta Ekebom, to TT news agency.

Last Saturday, Stockholm registered a count of over 4 000 pollen per cubic metre of air. In recent years, only 2000 and 2002 have seen such high concentrations.

Gothenburg had even higher counts on Saturday – 4 900 pollen per cubic metre of air. That’s also a record for recent years, but a long way off the all-time high of 13 500 pollen on 26 April 1993.

Hayfever sufferers poured into the country’s pharmacists over the weekend and over the counter medicines disappeared from the shelves in many stores faster than you could say ‘Atishoo’. But the state-owned pharmacist chain Apoteket promises that there’s no need to panic.

“I’ve spoken to our suppliers and it’s just a few products which have completely sold out of stocks. There are plenty of other equally effective products available,” said Carina Altsjö, head of Apoteket’s anti-allergy medicines.

The birch has blossomed late this year. It usually starts around the end of April in the Stockholm area, but is about a week late.

On Monday, birches were blooming as far north as Östersund, but progress along the cooler coastal areas was far slower, said Agneta Ekebom, an expert at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

As was predicted earlier, this year’s pollen season has been shorter and more intense for hayfever sufferers. The key trees for sufferers are hazle and alder, which blossom first, and then birch and oak. The blossoming periods overlap with little respite in between.

The later the blossom comes, the higher the chances of extreme pollen concentrations, according to Robert Daun, an expert with Gothenburg University’s botanic analysis group.

“The days are longer, the sun is up a longer time and drives the process,” he said.

According to the Swedish meteorological office, SMHI, the weather in northern Sweden will remain stable until around Thursday. The weather in the south isn’t expected to turn until the weekend.

But Robert Daun doesn’t expect the high concentrations of pollen to last more than a few days, irrespective of when the rain comes.