Use masks, keep homes dust free to avoid pollen allergy

ISLAMABAD: People vulnerable to pollen allergy this spring season should use masks, make homes dust free and keep windows closed in the evenings.

Dr Sharif Astori working at Federal Services Hospital said if pollen allergy is a yearly affliction for a person, then he should get timely vaccine before the onset of pollen allergy problem expected to start in late March.

Another advice was that if a person contracts severe allergy every year, it is better he should stay away from Islamabad during spring season. According to Astori, less rains will cause more pollen as plants and flowers get a more favourable climate to sprout and grow.

He said construction sites in Islamabad caused more than usual dust, which could make condition of pollen allergy patients more severe. The pollen count in Islamabad rises to as high as 30,000 particles per cubic meter. The peak even touches 40,000 to 55,000 pollen count a day.

The main culprit behind these levels are Broussonetia papyrifera or paper mulberry, as it is commonly known. The plant was imported from the Far East when the capital was built in the early 1960s.

The city planners dropped thousands of seeds from helicopters ironically in an effort to give Islamabad a healthy environment. The non-native species destroyed the native vegetation. Islamabad is now a green city, as the city planners had wished, but most of the vegetation is paper mulberry.

It is considered the most unyielding of trees and does not require any external help to grow. The residents of Islamabad see it growing in backyards, stream banks, greenbelts and sidewalks, practically any open space. Capital Development Authority (CDA) has launched drives to wipe off paper mulberry.

Anyhow as things stand today, patients in Islamabad have to live through this spring season with high level pollen counts and allergy.