Differences in concentrations of allergenic pollens and spores at different heights on an agricultural farm in West Bengal, India.

Ann Agric Environ Med 2001;8(2):123–130
The aim of the study was to assess the vertical profile of the major airborne pollen and spore concentration in the lower heights (up to six meters) and to check their allergenic potential causing respiratory allergy in agricultural workers. The study was conducted using rotorod samplers mounted at different heights at weekly intervals for two consecutive years (November 1997-October 1999). The major pollen grains and fungal spores (from mass culture) were collected in bulk and studied by skin-prick tests to detect allergenicity. Of the recorded pollen, 10 major and perennial types (e.g., Poaceae, Cheno-Amaranthaceae, Cyperaceae, Areca, etc.) were considered for comparative analyses. The tree pollen count showed more or less good correlation with increasing heights, whereas herb/shrub members are dominant at lower heights during all the three seasons (winter, summer and rains). The 10 major and perennial fungal spore types included Aspergilli group, Cladosporium, Nigrospora, etc. The smaller spores were dominant at greater heights and larger spores and conidia were more prevalent at lower levels. The total spore count was higher just after the rainy season during winter. In terms of allergenicity, Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane) of Poaceae, showed highest reactivity (70.58%) in skin test carried out in 189 adult agricultural field workers with respiratory disorders living inside the study area. Among fungal spores, Aspergillus japonicus was the strongest allergen, evoking 74.07% positive reactions. Drechslera oryzae, the pathogen causing brown spot of rice was also found to be a potent allergen.