This article is available also in spanish here

Seasonal allergies: a clear example of bad urban planning

My list

Author | Eduardo Bravo

The reasoning seems simple: if respiratory allergies are mainly caused by pollen, people suffering with them should avoid the countryside during the pollen season and move to the city. However, despite what logic suggests, this is not the case.

Pollution, the effects of climate change on the flowering time of trees, the bad choice of species in cities or their incorrect distribution in different urban spaces have resulted in the **percentage of people affected by allergies in cities being three times higher than that in rural environments.

Are allergies worse in cities?

The answer is yes. According to the professionals, although all plants pollinate, not all plants trigger allergies. To do so, that pollen has to reach the airways, a process that is facilitated by the atmospheric conditions of urban environments.

The main reason for this are vehicle exhaust fumes that degrade air quality, making the pollen remain in the air for longer. Furthermore, according to allergists, the small size of diesel particles facilitates their entry into the airways, bringing about the allergic reaction.

This combination has contributed to the increased allergenic power of pollen in recent years, to the extent that some experts already call this new variety super pollen and predict that within the next few decades, more than half of the European population will suffer from some form of allergy.

The worst cities for people with allergies

The need for fast-growing trees in cities has resulted in the species being planted also producing the most pollen. This defective urban planning strategy in terms of gardens, in addition to high levels of pollution, has led to the following cities being the worst in the world for pollen allergies:

  • Moscow: the Russian capital has an abundance of poplars. Each Spring, this tree generates pukh, a type of fluff that covers the streets until it creates a white blanket that looks like snow and which easily reaches the airways.

  • London: the capital of the United Kingdom is one of the worst cities in the world for people living with allergies due to its landscape practices. Specifically, the vast numbers of birch trees can be a real problem, increased by the fact that traditionally only male (pollinating) trees have been planted, since they create "less mess" by not depositing seeds.

  • Tokyo: **the **cherry blossom festival is an important event in Japan. The problem is that these trees, together with the cypress or the rice plant, trigger allergies, which affect the economy as well as health. In 2018, it was estimated that the country lost 1.8 billion dollars due to pollen-induced allergies.

Solutions

Apart from the discomfort associated with allergies, the danger with these types of ailments is that they lead to other more serious ones such as asthma. Therefore, measures need to be taken to improve air quality in cities. For example, the use of bicycles and public transport should be encouraged, the use of private vehicles should be reduced, and people should shop locally and control energy wastage.

In the particular case of people with allergies, recommendations include avoiding contact with pollen. It is therefore not advisable to exercise outdoors during risky days, keep windows shut at home or at work, use different clothes inside and outside and use protective masks.

Images | Cenczi, Pandapotter, Essuera, Alicja

Related Content

Recommended profiles for you

Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
hi
hassan iqbal
littzone
ceo
UDAY DALVI
UDAY DALVI
ARAGORN INFRATECH PVT LTD
DIRECTOR
AF
Augusto Ferreira
Macroplan
Consultant
Enrique Góngora
Enrique Góngora
Researcher
Language coach and translator
leonor Migueis
leonor Migueis
materia
Consultor\\nLandscape Architect
Zeke Hoyos
Zeke Hoyos
Westminster
Global Education Programs Coordinator
CL
Carla Linares
Ministerio de vivienda
accessibility analyst
JS
José Francisco Sotelo Leyva
Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero
Profesor investigador
MS
Mikko Siitonen
City of Tampere / Development programme
Program Development Manager in the Five-star City Centre Development Programme
AO
Alfredo Olarte
Universidad Externado de Colombia
Student of a degree in government and international affairs.
KL
Karina Lavik
Nordic Edge Expo
Communications Manager
Devanand Koli
Devanand Koli
BVDUPUne
I am a student in Bharti Vidyapith social science center pune. Which cource I have admitted in MSW.
MB
Maria Betancur
Cetus Consultores Empresariales
CEO
JO
JORDI OLIVERAS
UPC
TITULAR
AJ
Abraham Jacob
Abuzz Solutions
Special projects
EA
EXEQUIEL ANTUNEZ
partners of the americas
presidente junta directiva
Serra Artur
Serra Artur
i2cat
Deputy Director
Ozhan Kaya
Ozhan Kaya
Huawei
Smart city manager
Sarah Wray
Sarah Wray
Cities Today
Always looking for city innovation stories.
IB
Ivana Benda
AAI Architects International Inc.
Director, Senior Designer

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$