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The millions of people in the UK who suffer from hay fever can check out a new service on the Met’ Office’s website which give a pollen forecast. With the hot weather which started in April many people will be stuck indoors crying and sneezing as tree pollen gives way to grass pollen over summer. When the grass stops pollinating then it’s the turn of the flowers to start their reproduction process by shedding tonnes of pollen into the atmosphere.
The unseasonably warm weather in April meant that trees started pollinating early leading many to get their first tastes of scratchy throats and streaming eyes. Some have such strong allergic reactions that they have to remain indoors for days on end. Hay fever, an allergic reaction similar to those reactions which can prove deadly in peanut allergy sufferers when they are extreme, known as anaphylaxis, costs the British economy millions of pounds as up to 4 million working days are lost each year to hay fever as it affects 15-20% of the population at various times throughout the summer.
At the present the site is updated at midday every day and covers the whole of the UK, plans are afoot to update it earlier on in the morning to give allergy sufferers the chance to plan their day ahead more easily. The service covers each of the Met’ Office’s 16 regions offering 2, 3 and 5 day forecasts which are updated every day while the monthly forecast is refreshed each week.
The service was originally managed by Pollen UK but the Met’ Office is taking over and enhancing the service that was provided by The National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at the university of Worcester, of which Pollen UK was a part. The Met’ Offices forecasting combines weather information with pollen levels taken from across the country and will be run by a dedicated UK Pollen Network manager. First to take that seat is Yolanda Clewlow. She said
“Variable weather conditions across the country mean that levels of pollen often vary greatly from day to day, so it’s important the hay fever sufferers stay up to date with the latest forecast. You may need to take medication in advance of high-count days.”
Recent summers have been wetter, cooler and windier than would normally be expected, all of which helps to ease hay fever sufferers’ reactions but a long, hot, dry sultry summer will be agony for many people as the period of exposure to allergens increases.