Objective: A 15-year pollen count was performed in the atmosphere of Madrid, Spain, to determine the months in which the highest concentrations of allergenic pollens occur.
Methods: Pollen counts were done with a Burkard spore trap (Burkard Manufacturing, Rickmansworth, Herst., U.K.). The results were subsequently compared with results of skin tests in patients with pollinosis born and living in and around Madrid.
Results: The highest airborne presence (percent of total yearly pollen counts, mean of counts from 1979 to 1993) was for Quercus spp. (17%); followed by Platanus spp. (15%), Poaceae (15%), Cupressaceae (11%), Olea spp. (9%), Pinus spp. (7%), Populus spp. (4%), and Plantago spp. (4%). The most predominant pollens from January to April are tree pollens (Cupressaceae, Alnus, Fraxinus, Ulmus, Populus, Platanus, and Morus), although these are also abudant in May and June (Quercus, Olea, and Pinus spp.). The grass pollination period shows a double curve: the first peak occurs from February to April (8% of yearly grasses), and the second peak occurs from May to July (90% of yearly grasses). Among allergenically significant weeds, the most notable is Plantago; in contrast, Rumex, Urticaceae, Cheno-Amaranthaceae, and Artemisia spp. have very low concentrations (< or = 2% yearly total pollens). The most significant allergenic pollen is that of grasses, with a prevalence of positive prick test results of 94%, followed by Olea europaea (61%), Plantago lagopus (53%), Platanus hybrida (52%), and Cupressus arizonica (20%).
Conclusion: The population of Madrid is exposed to high concentrations of allergenic pollen from February to July, although the most intense period is from May to June. Grass pollens are the most important cause of pollinosis in this area.