Establishing a National Aeroallergen Monitoring Network: Opportunities for NADP Collaboration

Norman Anderson1, Andy Johnson2, Christopher Lehmann3, Arie Manangan4, Wendy Brunner5, Jessica Wurster6 and Leonard Bielory, MD7

This presentation describes an opportunity for National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) collaboration in the formation of a national aeroallergen monitoring network.  Airborne pollen and mold spores (collectively, aeroallergens) are of keen concern due to their adverse effect on people with asthma and allergies. The impact of aeroallergens is expected to increase due to climate change and other environmental factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established a partnership with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) through CSTE’s Asthma and Allergy Workgroup. This workgroup supports the monitoring, modeling, and research efforts focused on human exposure to aeroallergens in the United States.

CSTE held its first pollen summit in 2015, which concluded with the need to establish a nation-wide data pollen repository to include both traditional and novel pollen measures and to track information for public health actions. Identified needs included more research on pollen forecasting, the development of human health alerts, and a support platform for research. There are 85 existing ambient monitoring sites coordinated through the National Allergen Bureau (NAB). Yet, they lack sufficient temporal and spatial resolution to fully represent affected populations. Also, data access is limited to cumbersome one on one agreements with the individual monitoring stations. This is why CSTE is developing a comprehensive strategy to establish a national aeroallergen monitoring network, possibly following an NADP-like model of multiple stakeholder agencies under a shared decision-making governance structure.

The network will build upon the existing NAB sites, as NAB provides consistent and high quality data through its training and certification processes. In addition, it is evaluating alternative approaches to assess aeroallergen exposure. These alternative approaches include working with the NADP, the National Phenology Network (NPN), as well as exploring remote sensing and climate data, automated collection stations, and low cost sensors. Outreach plans also include coordination with the Department of Agriculture’s crop and forest information and with the local/state/federal ambient air quality monitoring networks.

The network plan also includes optimizing pollen data use for the public benefit: epidemiological and climatological research; short-term forecasting; modeling and future-casting; health risk management; and ensuring long term sustainability through engagement of public health stakeholders. CSTE’s goal is a network that is sufficient to address this currently under-recognized and under-resourced public health problem.  We provide an overview of CSTE’s plan for a national monitoring network and opportunities to collaborate in the early stages of this environmental health initiative.

 

1Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, andersonenvironmentalhealth@gmail.com
2Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Andy.Johnson@maine.gov
3National Atmospheric Deposition Program, clehmann@illinois.edu
4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mqa2@cdc.gov
5Minnesota Department of Public Health, wendy.brunner@state.mn.gov
6Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, jwurster@cste.org
7Rutgers University, drlbielory@gmail.com