islamabad - Ever-increasing seasonal dust and pollen allergy is at its peak by this time of the year in the federal capital, giving rise to airborne diseases thus making life tough for the residents.

Once few in numbers, the pollen and dust allergy victims are increasing day by day, while the authorities concerned are not adopting measures on emergency basis to eradicate this source of irritation. “A drive is launched jointly by National Institute of Health (NIH) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) to cope with pollen allergy, and in this regard, NIH has deployed doctors and paramedic staff which are dealing almost 500 allergy patients daily here at NIH laboratory,” said an official of NIH.

“Early season trimming of all trees, causing pollen allergy, was also launched in the federal capital to control pollen count and provide maximum respite to the allergy-hit patients,” he added. Director Pakistan Meteorological Department Met Office Dr Muhammad Hanif said rains reduce pollen counts but as soon as the sun comes out they grow rapidly. “The weather conditions foreseen during April will be relatively drier and sunny as compared to March.”

Informing about the types of pollens, the director said paper mulberry, pine, dandelion, cannabis, acacia, alternaria, eucalyptus and grasses were common but Paper Mulberry was the most abundant in concentration within Islamabad touching extreme limits of even more than 40,000 per cubic meter of air at the peak of pre and post winter season.

According to the advisory issued by National Institute of Health (NIH), in the spring, pollen count in air increases because of trees, dandelion, grass and flowers resulting in respiratory problems, rash in eyes and red skin problems among masses.

“Spring blossoms to add color to the nature but it becomes really difficult to live in the capital during peak days of allergy without taking preventive measures,” said Bilal Aslam, a resident of sector G-7.

“During the past few years allergy cases are increasing consistently especially among children. Three to four children hit by allergy are being reported on daily basis,” said Dr Talat Pervaiz, a child specialist. The Director Met office said pollen monitoring unit of Pakistan Meteorological Department monitors pollen counts in Islamabad but in limited area. While talking about the tall claims of Capital Development

Authority (CDA) he said deforestation, poor use of land in Pakistan and fake environmental assessment reports were causing climate change and allergic diseases. The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Media Coordinator, Dr. Waseem Khawaja said pollen allergy symptoms includes sneezing, runny nose, watering of eyes, coughing, improper breathing, wheezing and eventually attacks of seasonal asthma. The skin can also become itchy sometimes.

To avoid this diseases, Dr. Khawaja said, it is better to move to a place where the pollen emitting plants did not grow. But this solution only offer temporary relief as a person who is sensitive to one specific weed, tree, or grass pollen may often develop allergies from other plants as well after repeated exposure.

“There are other ways to avoid pollen such as remaining indoors in the morning, when the outdoor pollen levels are high. Sunny, windy days could be especially troublesome and while driving close your car mirror and also use mask on motorbike”, he added.

The Director Met further said climate change was aggravating heath issues in capital city while urbanization and unplanned growth of housing societies were the major causes of dust allergy. The Director Met said Paper Mulberry sheds allergy for six months, which means that Islamabad is not a suitable place to live for half a year.

He has urged the authorities concerned including his own office, CDA and climate ministry should take the matter seriously before it gets too late.