Predicting pollen

10 Oct 2016

Spring has sprung, the sun is rizz; I wonder where the pollen is!

A significant proportion of the Australian population looks forward to the improving weather that comes with spring and summer with trepidation.

This is because around 30% of the population is allergic to pollen. The allergic response can include hay fever, asthma and conjunctivitis...all three if you're unlucky.

The major capitals of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide all have pollen forecasts based on counting pollens in the air and factoring in weather forecasts. Tasmania has the Sense-T AirRater smart phone app, which uses a state-wide sensor network and user input.

There are some other pollen forecasts that do not do this and are less reliable.

The Melbourne pollen count is conducted at the University of Melbourne under the supervision of Associate Professor Ed Newbigin.


Ed is seen here with the pollen collector. This device directs air onto a microscope slide with an adhesive surface. 

Each day, the slide is collected and examined under a microscope by a botanist who can identify the different types of pollen and count them. Grass pollens are counted for the pollen forecast.


Masters student, Lachlan Tegart is seen here counting the pollen grains.

To learn more about pollen, and ways to minimise its impact, visit our Sensitive Choice website and check out our useful Pollen fact sheet.

Adam Trumble
Partnerships Manager
Sensitive Choice Program