Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Allergy seasons in Germany

Seasonal allergies in Germany are typical for central Europe.The Federal Office for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz or BfN) divides the country into 73 geographical regions that are in three major zones: German Plain in the north, the German Upland in the central region and the German Highlands in the south. National parks of Germany are famous for their woodlands. Mueritz National Park is rich with conifer woods, oak and beech trees. Nature lovers also appreciate elm, ash, larch and birch making the country very colorful and vibrant.

Unfortunately, these beautiful plants could also bring sneezing, wheezing, and runny nose. According to this report by BfR, around 12 % of 13-14 year-olds and 14 % (Erfurt) and 22 % (Hamburg) respectively of 20 up to 44 year old adults suffer from seasonal rhinitis or hay fever in Germany. The incidence has increased in recent years. East Germany resident are affected less than those in West Germany. Among those born from 1942 to 1951, 19.8 % (West Germany) and 11.7 % (East Germany) of people had hay fever; in the birth cohorts 1952 to 1961 the figures were 21.5 % (West) and 12.9 % (East). In the birth cohorts 1962 to 1971 the number of hay fever sufferers was as high as 26.8 % (West) and 14.7 % (East).

Here is an approximate 2011 calendar (based on data by University of Berlin and Institute of Meteorology) showing high and lows for Hazel, Alder, Birch trees, Rye grass and other pasture grasses, and weeds such as Mugwort and Ambrosia (common ragweed widespread in North America).   
Allergies depend on sun, wind and rain, so fluctuate every year. Compare, for example, these grass pollen data collected for 1998, 2000 and 2003 (data from the German archive).

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