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Heavy pollen counts near record high across Finland

Birch allergy sufferers are likely having a more difficult time with symptoms than usual.

Birch pollen levels higher than usual this spring. Image: Timo Nykyri / Yle

For those suffering from birch allergy, this spring has been one of the toughest in years. Some places have recorded historical highs of pollen in the air.

According to the University of Turku's pollen report, one of the highest pollen levels in Finnish history was measured in Kuopio this spring. On May 12, the daily average of pollen particles was 29,269 per cubic metre of air.

The largest daily records of birch pollen previously recorded was in Imatra in 2012, when there were 36,018 particles per cubic metre and in Helsinki in 2014 with 33,662 particles per cubic metre.

Annika Saarto, a docent at the University of Turku, says that this year's high pollen concentrations were observed at all measurement sites, with the exception of Kevo in Utsjoki, where blooming has not yet begun.

According to Saarto, allergy sufferers have been particularly symptomatic this spring. Many who have previously not suffered from birch allergy or have experienced no symptoms for years are now affected. In addition to birch, alder has also caused a lot of allergic reactions this spring.

According to a clinical study, most people who are allergic to birch pollen will show symptoms when they are exposed to more than a hundred particles of pollen per cubic metre of air. There is an abundance of pollen in the air when there are a thousand particles per cubic metre.

Currently, there is an abundance of airborne birch pollen in nearly all of Finland, although pollen concentrations have already fallen in southern Finland, and blooming has not yet begun in northernmost Lapland, said Saarto.