Hayfever sufferers rejoice! Melbourne Pollen Count is back, earlier and with more features

Screen shot of Melbourne Pollen Count app
Melbourne Pollen Count is back, earlier and with more features.

An earlier start to the Melbourne Pollen Count plus new daily forecasts of allergens from  trees, weeds and other sources is being rolled out to help hayfever sufferers across the city to better manage their allergies.

The Melbourne Pollen Count has been part of Melbourne’s spring for more than 30 years, providing daily grass pollen counts and forecasts from 1 October through to 31 December.

Grass pollen, particularly rye grass pollen, is a major cause of hayfever, and was also one of the contributing factors to the outbreak of thunderstorm asthma in November 2016, which was one of Victoria’s largest acute health crises.

However, there are many more allergens that can cause hayfever.

“Over the years, users have been asking us to start earlier, to count more types of pollen and to provide forecasts that go further into the future,” Associate Professor Ed Newbigin, from the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, and the lead researcher on the Melbourne Pollen Count said.

“We listened, and so this year, Melbourne Pollen is trialling an earlier start to its service, commencing pollen counting at our University of Melbourne site on 1 September. This will give those with seasonal allergies living in Melbourne an extended coverage.”

“In addition to starting earlier, we are also rolling out a new Melbourne Pollen App with a range of forecasts that goes beyond our familiar grass pollen forecast.”

The new service includes forecasts for pollen from trees like cypress, eucalypts, ash and plane, weeds like plantain and spores from the mould Alternaria provided daily. The team hopes the new forecasts will help hayfever sufferers to take more control of their allergies.

“Some of the new forecasts are for things we know trigger hay fever and asthma elsewhere in the world and others are possible triggers,” Associate Professor Newbigin said.

Some of the new features are available to paid subscribers, but many popular features of the service, such as the grass pollen forecasts and thunderstorm asthma forecasts, will remain free to all.

“We have an amazing community of users and contributors, and we are grateful to everyone who is now supporting us by subscribing, so this important research and data collection can continue,” Associate Professor Newbigin said.