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Research explores link between certain air pollutants and allergies

Last Update 06/04/2021

Scientists in Germany have found that two traffic-related air pollutants could increase the impact of certain airborne allergens.


Scientists in Germany have found that two traffic-related air pollutants could increase the impact of certain airborne allergens.

Their study was presented at the American Chemical Society meeting yesterday (Sunday 22 March, 2015).

Using a combination of laboratory tests and computer simulations, the researchers looked at how different levels of ozone and nitrogen dioxide affected birch pollen, a major trigger for allergies.

They found that, when birch pollen allergens come into contact with ozone, several chemical reactions take place that change the structure of the allergens and make them more potent.

Nitrogen dioxide also appeared to have an effect on birch pollen allergens, and the scientists noted that this, combined with the effects of ozone, could heighten the impact of the allergens on the human body.

The researchers believe that this could explain the rising levels of allergies worldwide, and state that this could increase given the growing levels of pollutants in the air. They plan on extending this research to explore the effects of other air pollutants on allergens.

Read the original news article and abstract

Read our factsheet on allergic rhinitis, or ‘hayfever’.

Find out more about the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign, which is raising awareness of the importance of clean air.

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