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    Belgium’s birch-tree pollen season begins

    © Belga
    Those who suffer with a pollen allergy are being advised to take appropriate steps to avoid the onset of related symptons.
    © Belga

    From March 28th, concentrations of birch-tree pollen measured in the air exceeded the alert threshold of 80 grains of pollen per cubic metre of air. Thus begins the critical period for those with pollen allergies. This is the warning today (Thursday) from the Scientific Institute for Public Health (“the ISP”).

    Nicolas Bruffaerts explains, “The milder temperatures of recent days slightly accelerated the speed of maturity of male flowers, and rapidly favoured the dispersion of pollen grains within the air.” Bruffaerts is a pollen specialist at the ISP.

    Bruffaerts says, “Last Tuesday, we counted 270 birch-tree pollen grains per cubic metre of air in Brussels.” He goes on, “The critical threshold of 80 grains per cubic metre of air was therefore exceeded, but we are still far from the maximum level reached last year, with 1,500 pollen grains per cubic metre of air.”

    The birch tree is the most allergenic tree in Belgium. It produces nearly a third of tree pollens present in the air.

    When this pollen concentration reaches or exceeds 80 grains per cubic metre of air, the majority of sensitive individuals are affected by symptoms such as tingling, itching and watering and redness of the eyes.

    There is even a risk of sneezing, a blocked nose, congested sinuses, loss of smell and taste, nasal discharge and, in some cases, itching on the back of the mouth and in the throat.

    To avoid these unpleasant symptoms, it is particularly recommended to follow your doctor’s advice. You should avoid all outdoor sports activities and wear sunglasses to limit the contact of the eyes with the allergen. You should even ensure that you keep doors and windows shut when travelling by car.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times