Asia Pac Allergy.  2017 Jul;7(3):138-147. 10.5415/apallergy.2017.7.3.138.

Characteristics of airborne pollen in Incheon and Seoul (2015–2016)

  • 1The Environmental Health Center for Allergic Rhinitis, Inha University Hospital, Incheon 22332, Korea.
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Inha University Hospital, Incheon 22332, Korea.
  • 3The Environmental Health Center for Asthma, Korea University Anam Hospiral, Ansan 15355, Korea.
  • 4Department of Pediatrics, Hallym University Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital, Seoul 07441, Korea.


Pollen allergens are one of the main contributors to the development and/or aggravation of allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and asthma.
An examination of the airborne pollen in residential areas should be conducted to aid the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases.
Airborne pollen samples were collected from 2 sites in Incheon and 2 in Seoul from 2015 to 2016.
The highest monthly concentration of airborne pollen was observed in May and September each year. Pollen from 32 families and 50 genera was identified over the 2 years; of these, Pinus spp. showed the highest pollen concentration (41.6%), followed by Quercus spp. (25.3%), and Humulus spp. (15.3%), the latter of which had the highest concentration among weed pollen. The total pollen concentration was significantly higher in Incheon than in Seoul (p = 0.001 in 2015, p < 0.001 in 2016) and higher in 2016 than in 2015. The concentrations of pollen from weed species (Cupressaceae, Humulus spp., Artemisia spp., Ambrosia spp., and Chenopodiaceae) and grass species (Gramineae) were significantly higher (p < 0.001) than those from tree species. Pollen was distributed from February to November. The first pollen identified in both regions in each year was Alnus spp. Overall, the total concentration of Quercus spp., Betula spp., Humulus spp., Artemisia spp., Ambrosia spp., and Chenopodiaceae pollen increased significantly over the 2 years.
Region-specific differences exist in the pollen of major allergenic plants. Continuous monitoring of pollen is thus essential for management of pollen-related allergic disorders in each region.


Pollen; Allergens; Allergy

MeSH Terms

Conjunctivitis, Allergic
Rhinitis, Allergic


  • Fig. 1 Percentage of pollen concentration by genus in Incheon and Seoul over 2 years (2015 and 2016).

  • Fig. 2 Average monthly pollen concentrations in Incheon and Seoul over 2 years (2015 and 2016).

  • Fig. 3 Average monthly pollen concentrations at Galsan-dong and Yeonsudong, Incheon and Anam-dong and Daerim-dong, Seoul over 2 years (2015 and 2016).

  • Fig. 4 Pollen season of major allergenic plants in Incheon (A) and Seoul (B) over 2 years (2015 and 2016). Average of 10-day pollen counts in grains/m3.

  • Fig. 5 Average monthly pollen concentrations of major allergenic plants at Galsan-dong (A) and Yeonsu-dong (B), Incheon and Anam-dong (C) and Daelim-dong (D), Seoul over 2 years (2015 and 2016).

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