Realtime pollen detection - a UK first

Biological aerosols including pollen, fungal spores and bacteria are ubiquitous in the built up environment and they can often be allergenic, impacting the quality of life for a significant, and growing, proportion of the population. The UK has one of the highest global rates of diagnosed asthma, affecting around 10% of adults; of the 5.3 million asthmatics in the UK someone suffers a potentially fatal asthma attack every 10 seconds, with over 1400 fatalities recorded each year. The cost to the NHS of treating allergies is around £1 billion per annum and approximately £7 billion is lost from the UK economy due to diminished productivity arising from allergies. 150 million people in the EU suffer from chronic allergenic diseases and by 2025 it is thought that over half the population will be affected, impairing quality of life and productivity; in the EU, the indirect economic impacts of allergies are estimated at between 55 to 150 billion Euro per annum. As cities evolve and are redesigned as we move towards a net-zero world, there is a clear need to understand how biological aerosol emissions impact human health and also how emissions may be impacted by a changing climate, changes in land use and by policy.

The Poleno deployed at the MERI Air Quality Supersite

The Manchester Urban Observatory (MUO) has recently acquired a state of the art Swisens Poleno realtime biological aerosol spectrometer which has now been deployed at the Fallowfield Manchester Environmental Research Institute air quality supersite for routine monitoring. The Poleno utilises holography and biofluorescence measurements to identify species via predictive machine learning pathways. The Poleno will provide researchers with speciated atmospheric concentrations of bioaerosols, initially focusing on pollen, with fungal identification capability soon to follow. This will allow us to improve our understanding of local bioaerosol emissions and sources, illuminating their impacts on air quality and human health.

The first real-time pollen count time series data made at the MERI Air Quality Supersite.

The UK’s first realtime pollen concentrations as derived from the Poleno are now emerging from the supersite. It is our goal to make realtime speciated pollen and fungal concentrations available to the public through the open acces data streaming platform, allowing members of the public to make informed decisions about their exposure to allergenic biological aerosols. We welcome feedback from the public and other interested parties about this emerging capability ( The Poleno is available to hire through the MUO equipment pool for urban projects and interested parties are invited to fill out the equipment request form and contact Ian Crawford to discuss the objectives of the proposed deployment.