Plants in cities contribute to airborne allergies during pollen season. So how do we select plants to provide ecological and environmental services in cities while preventing allergic reactions?
Paloma Carinanos, professor of Botany, University of Granada, Spain, studies how the plants in urban green spaces affect air quality. She and her team then look at how the air quality affects human health. Her work shows that by carefully selecting trees for green spaces, cities can take advantage of the benefits of urban forests.
When Paloma and her team set out to quantity and document the trees of Granada’s urban spaces, they found that the most popular trees also caused allergenic air quality problems. Trees were selected for landscaping, climate and fashion criteria, but not health impact on residents.
Variety is critical, she says. Increasing the variety of trees in green spaces can both decrease allergies and increase the urban vegetation’s ability to clean pollutants out of the air.
Speaking of allergens in cities, Canadians benefit from the knowledge of Hamilton, Ontario’s,Peter Prakke, who works toward a healthy environment by using allergy-friendly plants. Peter has worked for years to raise awareness of allergy-free gardening and to raise visibility of groups like the Society for Allergy Friendly Environmental Gardening and the Allergy Friendly Schoolyard. The book Allergy-Fighting Garden ranks 3,000 plants on the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale.
Paloma Cariñanos, Cristiano Adinolfi, Consuelo Díaz de la Guardia, Concepción De Linares, Manuel Casares-Porcel.Characterization of Allergen Emission Sources in Urban Areas. Journal of Environment Quality, 2015; 0 (0): 0 DOI: 10.2134/jeq2015.02.0075. (2015)