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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 28-33

Identification of airborne pollens in Delhi


Department of Pulmonary Medicine, National Centre of Respiratory Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication6-Mar-2018

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Raj Kumar
Department of Pulmonary Medicine, National Centre of Respiratory Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, University of Delhi, New Delhi - 110 007
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijaai.ijaai_35_17

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  Abstract 

Aims: To quantify and identify the pollen grains in the atmosphere of Delhi.
Settings and Design: The study was conducted at the National Centre of Respiratory Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (VPCI), University of Delhi, Delhi, India.
Subjects and Methods: The study was conducted for 2 months at VPCI, University of Delhi (North Campus), Delhi. Pollen grains were collected on a daily basis using 24-h Burkard (UK) volumetric air sampler. Trapped pollen film was stained with a fuchsin stain that is protected with a cover slip and examined under a light microscope. Identification was done with the help of manuals for pollen identification.
Statistical Analysis Used: Data analysis was done by Microsoft Excel 2007.
Results: In this study period (April and May 2017), a total of 10,858/m3 pollens were counted; of these, 7758/m3 pollens of 34 species of trees, weeds, and grasses were identified. Overall, Juniper sp. (1385/m3) pollen of tree was found to be the most dominant pollen, followed by Cannabis sativa (726/m3), Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata) (654/m3), Cynodon dactylon (509/m3), Amaranthus sp. (506/m3), Artemisia sp. (460/m3), Cassia sp. (447/m3), Chenopodium album (412/m3), Helenium autumnale (381/m3), and Parthenium (301/m3). Juniper sp. (1310/m3) pollens in April 2017 and C. sativa (421/m3) pollens in May 2017 have shown their dominance.
Conclusions: In our study, various pollens of different plant species were counted and identified in this short study period. The common pollens found were Juniper sp., C. sativa, Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata), C. dactylon, Amaranthus sp., C. album, H. autumnale, Parthenium, and Artemisia sp. in 2 months. This short study may be helpful for the respiratory allergic patients to protect themselves by pollens.

Keywords: Airborne pollen, identification, respiratory allergy


How to cite this article:
Kumar R, Kumar D, Singh K, Mavi AK, Kumar M. Identification of airborne pollens in Delhi. Indian J Allergy Asthma Immunol 2018;32:28-33

How to cite this URL:
Kumar R, Kumar D, Singh K, Mavi AK, Kumar M. Identification of airborne pollens in Delhi. Indian J Allergy Asthma Immunol [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Aug 25];32:28-33. Available from: http://www.ijaai.in/text.asp?2018/32/1/28/226701



Airborne pollen grains of various plant species are responsible for the different types of allergies. The pollen grains and fragments transported by the air generally range between 10 and 50 μm.[1] The ambient air is never completely free from microbial propagules which are collectively called air spora.[2] Pollens of various plant species are reported to cause respiratory allergies and bronchial asthma. These allergenic particles contain proteins and glycoproteins that are released on coming in contact with the human respiratory tract and elicit an allergic reaction in the body.[1],[3] Aerobiological studies can be utilized to forecast daily pollen and spore count on electronic media.[4]

Identification of pollen origin is a central aspect in pollination ecology studies[5],[6],[7] and agroecological research.[8],[9] Conventional pollen identification utilizes light microscopy and discriminates species according to morphological characteristics.[10] This requires expert knowledge for the bioregion, and taxa of interest[11] is time-consuming[12] and lacks discriminatory power at lower taxonomic levels.[8],[12]

The pollen grains released by wind-pollinated plant constitute a major part of flora. The concentration and composition of atmospheric pollen flora depend on the local vegetation, climate, and geographical location. Aerobiological studies at Delhi have shown the presence of different types of biocomponents in the atmosphere. A detailed study of pollen spectrum in the atmosphere of given place is of great importance to allergologists, as airborne pollens are the main causative agents of respiratory allergies. Hay fever allergy and asthma are common health problems in the world.[13],[14],[15],[16] Airborne pollen grain monitoring has become an essential field for the medical community as pollen calendar can serve as the supportive tool to take such steps which would be helpful in the prevention of allergies. The purpose of the present study is to quantify and identify the pollen grains of different plant species in Delhi environment in 2 months (April and May 2017).


  Subjects and Methods Top


The study was carried out over a period of 2 months (April and May 2017) at Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (VPCI), University of Delhi (North Campus), Delhi. The instrument for daily monitoring of pollens was installed on the roof of the multistoried building (up to a height of 20 m) of the VPCI.

Preparation of slides

The Burkard sampler's 24-h lid assembly using a standard 3 inch ×1 inch microscope slide was cleaned with a dry tissue paper and then the slide was coated with a thin and uniform layer of petroleum jelly with the help of a painting brush. The slide was placed on the clock assembly by marking to show the start of the trace. Hold the wind vane with one hand, unlock the revolving part of the trap, and climb down before releasing the wind vane. The slide carriage will move clockwise in an upward direction at 2 mm/h and put back into the trap with secured locking bar. The sampler was started by connecting it to the power supply (12 V) and left for 1-day recording. Trapped pollen film was stained with the fuchsin stain that is protected with the coverslip and examined under a light microscope.

Quantification and identification of pollen

A total of 34 species of pollens of trees, weeds, and grasses were counted and identified. Pollens were collected by the Burkard's 24-h recording volumetric trap for 2 months from April 2017 to May 2017. The instrument was installed on the roof of the multistoried building (up to a height of 20 m) of VPCI, located in the University of Delhi (North Campus), Delhi. Twenty-four-hour sampling was done (12 pm to 12 pm) and then pollen was counted under a microscope by reading slides prepared from the pollen-trapping assembly. Pollen counts of each group were reported as total grains per cubic meter of air (grains/m3). Identification was done with the help of manuals for pollen identification.

Meteorological data

The meteorological factors including temperature and relative humidity were recorded daily from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, New Delhi.


  Results Top


In this study period (April and May 2017), a total of 10,858/m3 pollens were counted; of these, 7758/m3 pollens of 34 species of trees, weeds, and grasses were identified. Overall, Juniper sp.(1385/m3) pollen of tree was found to be the most dominant pollen, followed by Cannabis sativa (726/m3), Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata) (654/m3), Cynodon dactylon (509/m3), Amaranthus sp.(506/m3), Artemisia sp. (460/m3), Cassia sp. (447/m3), Chenopodium album (412/m3), Helenium autumnale (381/m3), and Parthenium (301/m3). In this duration, minimum and maximum temperatures and humidity were 24.1°C and 36.5°C and 43.5 RH and 84 RH observed, respectively. Temperature and humidity affect (increase/decrease) the pollen count directly.

Identified pollens in April 2017

A total of 7099/m3 pollens were counted, in which 5202/m3 pollens of 34 species of trees, weeds, and grasses were identified in April 2017. In this month, Juniper sp. (1310/m3) of tree was found to be the dominant pollen, followed by Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata) (485/m3), Artemisia (368/m3), C. sativa (305/m3), Amaranthus sp. (298/m3), C. dactylon (284/m3), and C. album (260/m3) [Table 1] and [Figure 1] & [Figure 2]. The monthly mean values of pollens, temperature, and relative humidity were found 236.6/m3, 29.5°C and 55.6% respectively.
Table 1: Pollen shown dominance in April 2017

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Figure 1: Identified pollen in April 2017

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Figure 2: Identified Pollens (a) Magnolia grandiflora, (b) Iris, (c) Juniper sp., (d) Celtis occidentalis, (e) Cynodon dactylon, (f) Cannabis sativa, (g) Buchloe dactyloides, (h) Amaranthus sp., (i) Acer sp., (j) Pinus strobus, (k) Melandrium album, (l) Papaver rhoeas, (m) Parthenium, (n) Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata), (o) Artemisia sp.

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Identified pollens in May 2017

A total of 3759/m3 were counted and 2556/m3 were identified in May 2017. C. sativa (305/m3) was found to be the dominant pollen, followed by Cassia sp. (306/m3), C. dactylon (225/m3), H. autumnale (187/m3), Parthenium sp.(164/m3), Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata) (169/m3), Buchloe dactyloides (161/m3), Amaranthus sp. (208/m3), and C. album (152/m3) [Table 2], [Figure 2] & [Figure 3]. The monthly mean values of pollens, temperature, and relative humidity were found 121.3/m3, 31.9°C and 55.9% respectively.
Table 2: Pollen shown dominance in May 2017

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Figure 3: Identified pollen in May 2017

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Family-wise dominance of pollens of trees, weeds, and grasses in April and May 2017

April 2017

In tree pollens, Cupressaceae family (18.45%), Moraceae family (3.77%), Betulaceae family (2.89%), and Sapindaceae family (2.29%) have shown their dominance in April. In weeds, Asteraceae family (9.92%), Amaranthaceae family (8.31%), and Cannabaceae family (4.30%) have shown their dominance in April. In grasses, Poaceae family (11.48%) has shown its dominance in April [Table 3].
Table 3: Dominant plants family in April and May 2017

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May 2017

In tree pollen, Sapindaceae family (306/m3; 8.14%) has shown its dominance in May. Among grasses, Poaceae family (606/m3; 16.12%) has shown its dominance in May. Among weeds, Asteraceae family (443/m3; 11.78%), Cannabaceae family (425/m3; 11.31%), and Amaranthaceae family (398/m3; 10.59%) are shown in [Table 3].


  Discussion Top


Delhi, the capital city of India, comes under semi-arid tropics and supports thorny, bushy vegetation. In our short study, Juniper, Betula, Morus alba, and Cassia were found to be the dominant tree pollens in Delhi environment. C. dactylon and Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata) of Poaceae family were found to be the dominant grass pollens in Delhi environment. Artemisia, Cannabis, C. album, and Amaranthus were found to be the dominant weeds in Delhi environment. These identified pollens were compared with hospital visits of respiratory allergic patients and environmental factors.

In our study, grass pollens belonged to Poaceae family (13.09%) were found to be the dominant pollens, commonly C. dactylon and Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata). In studies, grass pollens belonged to Poaceae family (25.1%) had also shown dominant pollen types.[16],[17] Periodical surveys in Delhi have been conducted by Singh and Shivpuri,[18] Singh and Babu,[19] and Malik et al.[20] Dominant pollen types recorded were grasses. Shivpuri et al.[21] reported that 100 grass species were found in Delhi environment, in which Cenchrus, Cynodon, and Pennisetum are the main contributors to harm the environment of the city.

In our study, Cannabis (6.69.%), Amaranthus (4.66.%), Artemisia (4.24%), and C. album (3.79%) were found to be the dominant weed pollens which were similar to studies in the past. Singh et al.[16],[17] had reported and found Cannabis, Chenopod/Amaranth (14.5%), and Artemisia dominant weeds along with Parthenium and Xanthium. Singh and Shivpuri,[18] Singh and Babu,[19] and Malik et al.[20] had also reported that dominant weed pollens are Chenopod/Amaranth, Cannabis, and Artemisia along with Ailanthus, Xanthium, and Holoptelea. Shivpuri et al.[21] had also reported Amaranthus and Chenopodium dominant along with Cyprus and Scirpus.

In the current study, Juniper (12.76%), Cassia (4.12%), Morus alba (2.48%), and Betula (2.01%) were found to be the dominant tree pollens. Due to the short duration of the study, some tree pollens are not found in comparison to studies in the past, but Morus alba was also found to be dominant in previous studies. In his study, Singh et al.[16],[17] found that the tree pollens (Morus, Prosopis, and Eucalyptus) were shown dominance against other pollens, while pollens of Ricinus and Morus were also found dominant in his previous studies that were conducted by Singh and Shivpuri,[18] Singh and Babu[19] and Malik et al[20]. Shivpuri et al[21] reported Morus (Moraceae) and Ricinus, were moderately common while Celtis, Pinus, and Broussonetia (Moraceae) were rare in the environment of Delhi. Whereas in these studies Juniper is not found in Delhi environment and therefore, its pollens must have come from other areas of Delhi-NCR.

The results of our short study found that Cynodon, Amaranthus, and Chenopodium were commonly identified in the atmosphere of Delhi. These three pollens were also identified in other three studies Singh et al., Malik et al., and Shivpuri et al. Morus and Artemisia was identified in our study that also found in other two studies Singh et al. and Shivpuri et al. Cannabis and Parthenium were identified in our study that were also identified by Singh et al.[17]Artemisia was identified in our study; it was also identified by Malik et al.[20] in 1991 [Table 4].
Table 4: Common pollen in the atmosphere of Delhi current and past studies

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  Conclusions Top


In our study, various pollens of different plant species were counted and identified in this short study period. The common pollens found were Juniper sp., Morus alba, Cassia sp., C. sativa, Pooideae grasses (e.g. Poa sp., Lolium perenne, Dactylis glomerata), C. dactylon, Amaranthus, C. album, H. autumnale, Parthenium, and Artemisia in 2 months. The relationship between pollen number and respiratory allergy episodes is known. The findings of our study have shown the dominance of pollens of various plant species in the environment of Delhi with reference to affect respiratory diseases.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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