Monitoring the pollen counts (Bio-Aerosol-Analysator)

Pollen allergies have become a wide-spread disease. Every year, during the bloom of many plants, about 12 million citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany (every seventh person!) suffer from acute symptoms that reach from allergic rhinitis to life-threatening anaphylactic shocks. For their daily routine, allergic persons strongly depend on up-to-date information about pollen counts in their area, e. g. to adjust their daily medications.

These allergies are caused by airborne pollen, and the state-of-the-art technique for counting the various pollen taxa is the so-called Burkhard trap. These traps suck air containing pollen and other aerosole particles onto a piece of adhesive tape which will eventually be analyzed by human operators under a light microscope. This kind of analysis requires a high degree of experience and concentration, which - due to the ubiquitous human factor - cannot always be guaranteed. Some pollen taxa differ from their sizes alone, which cover a range between about 10 µm to 150 µm, others can be discriminated only by judging minute details. As this is a time-consuming analysis, the daily pollen count will thus rely on data from the previous day!

After the successful completion of the publicly funded project 'OMNIBUSS", the Helmut Hund GmbH, Wetzlar, has reached production readiness of the pollen monitor BAA 500 in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT), Sankt Augustin (Fig. 1).