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The aim of this study was to analyse the relationship between the distribution of hay-fever patients in the city of Córdoba, south-western Iberian Peninsula, and the specific atmospheric biological content originating from local sources. Four different districts were established in the metropolitan area of the city, according to vegetational and urbanistic characteristics. Air samples were taken in each area using portable Hirst-type samplers (Lanzoni VPPS 1000) and the spectrum of biological content was defined. Patients attending the Allergy Unit at Córdoba Teaching Hospital in 2000 with allergic rhinitis and/or asthma, and displaying a positive reaction to aeroallergen extracts, were distributed within the areas as a function of their district of residence. Aerobiological results revealed differences in pollen content between areas, in terms of both quantity and number of pollen types recorded. These differences were largely due to proximity to rural areas, prevalence of pollen from typically urban species and the possible effect of urban architecture as a barrier to the dispersal/concentration of particles and other pollutants. Patients were not uniformly distributed within the city. The majority lived in districts in which pollen from rural species was mixed with pollen from ornamentals. Patients living in typically urban districts displayed a higher prevalence of allergy to pollen from ornamentals. It is concluded that a high degree of exposure to the same environment may influence the development of sensitisation to the particular pollen load associated with that area.
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Journal of Environmental Monitoring
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