Deakin AIRwatch

Deakin AIRwatch is a pollen counting and forecasting facility. It was established in 2012 to assist students and staff of Deakin University and the general public in their allergen avoidance programs. Pollen and fungal spore data generated is also used for our ongoing research and collaborations with the Victorian Government's Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Meteorology.

Deakin AIRwatch is a pollen counting and forecasting facility.

Please note: Grass pollen counting and forecasting season is from 1 October to 31 December every year. Outside these times and in cases where the pollen count is temporarily unavailable, "currently not available" may be displayed.

Melbourne Burwood Campus burwood location pin

Pollen count: 11/12/2018

Moderate

Pollen forecast
(next 24 hours)

Moderate

Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus waurn ponds location pin

Pollen count: 10/12/2018

Low

Pollen forecast
(next 24 hours)

Moderate

Ranking Grass pollen grains per m3 air
Low 0 - 19
Moderate 20 - 49
High 50 - 99
Extreme 100+

Melbourne Pollen provides other pollen count and forecast sites in Melbourne and around Victoria.

Important: On days of High/Extreme pollen count forecasts, it is highly advisable that all those who are allergic to pollen take necessary steps to minimize pollen exposure and carry appropriate medication for hay fever and potential thunderstorm-associated asthma. For further information on risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma, please visit the Victorian Government's health services hub.


Thunderstorm Asthma Forecast

For the latest up-to-date epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecast and information provided by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Meteorology, please visit the VicEmergency website.

You are also able to view the latest warnings and information by downloading the VicEmergency mobile app available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Staff and researchers

Cenk Suphioglu
A/Prof Cenk Suphioglu
Head
Dwan Price
Dr Dwan Price
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Anna Withanage Don
Ms Anna Withanage Dona
PhD student
Samuel King
Mr Samuel King
PhD student
Md Ahsan Ul Bari
Dr Md Ahsan Ul Bari
Casual Academic
Bryce Blades
Mr Bryce Blades
PhD student

AIRwatch overview

Bioaerosols are major contributors to hay fever and asthma and mainly consist of large reproductive structures: pollen grains and fungal spores. Their atmospheric concentrations (counts) are dependent upon the abundance of seasonal vegetation and the dispersal effects of weather patterns. Pollen is  also implicated as a causal agent in large-scale epidemics of thunderstorm-associated asthma. The recent end of Melbourne's long drought has coincided with numerous thunderstorm events as well as a return to peaks in severe asthma and hay fever outbreaks. Associate Professor Cenk Suphioglu and Dr Philip Taylor are experienced environmental allergists and have regularly collected pollen and spores in a spore trap, microscopically identified them, and used the results for research, and to inform the public of daily allergy risk levels.

In response to the epidemic thunderstorm asthma of 21 November 2016, the Victorian Government through its agencies DHHS and BoM, have established 5 new pollen counting facilities. These are located in Hamilton, Creswick, Bendigo, Dookie and Churchill, and are in addition to the existing Parkville facility housed at the University of Melbourne, significantly improving the Victorian pollen trap network.

Since there is currently no measure of atmospheric pollen and spore concentrations in regional Victoria (e.g. Geelong) and eastern Melbourne (e.g. Burwood), we have established Deakin AIRwatch, incorporating pollen and spore counting stations at both the Waurn Ponds and Burwood campuses of Deakin University.  This is timely due to ever-increasing allergy and asthma epidemics. Deakin AIRwatch network will not only directly benefit the public with pollen and spore counting service to assist in their allergen avoidance programs but also contribute to significant research and clinical studies, which is lacking for the greater Geelong area.

60 Minutes Australia: The killer storm

All Australians are used to weathering frequent and ferocious thunderstorms, but the one that raced through country Victoria and slammed into Melbourne on 21 November 2016 was loaded with unexpected peril. Within a matter of minutes the entire city was left gasping for air in a mass asthma epidemic.

Thousands were struck down, including many who weren't even asthmatic. Emergency services were unable to cope with the number of calls for assistance and hospital emergency departments were overflowing with distressed patients. Tragically, nine people died that terrible day. What caused it was a highly unusual phenomenon called "Thunderstorm Asthma", but this outbreak was the most severe and catastrophic the world has ever seen.

In a special 60 Minutes investigation Tara Brown reveals that what is even more frightening is that it will happen again. The problem though is that no one knows where or when. (Courtesy: Nine Network Australia)

ABC Australia Catalyst: Thunderstorm Asthma

ABC Catalyst's Tanya Ha and Deakin University's Associate Professor Cenk Suphioglu discuss 'Thunderstorm Asthma' after the November 2010 epidemic in Melbourne, Australia. We hear why these epidemics occur, and particularly why Victoria's conditions make it such a hotspot.

Time-lapse videos


Video: Time lapse of a flowering rye grass. Male stamens exert from the inflorescence and their anthers dehisce to reveal highly allergenic pollen grains.


Video: Close up, time lapse of anther dehiscence, during which approx 2,000 pollen grains per sac are exposed to the atmosphere. Pollen remains attached to the anther surface in the absence of a wind disturbance.

Video: Real time rupture of rye grass pollen upon exposure to water. The contents of the pollen are ejected through a ruptured pore on the surface of the pollen grain. Approximately 750 starch granules of micron size are emitted from each pollen grain, along with thousands of nano-particles of cytoplasmic debris, which can trigger a thunderstorm-associated asthma.

Key publications

  1. Suphioglu, C., Singh, M.B., Taylor,  P.E., Bellomo, R., Holmes, P., Puy, R. and Knox, R.B. (1992). Mechanism of  grass pollen-induced asthma. The Lancet 339: 569-572.
  2. Bellomo, R., Gigliotti, P., Treloar,  A., Holmes, P., Suphioglu, C., Singh, M.B. and Knox, R.B. (1992). Two  consecutive thunderstorm associated epidemics of asthma in the city of  Melbourne: The possible role of rye-grass pollen. Medical Journal of Australia 156: 834-837.
  3. Knox, R.B. and Suphioglu, C. (1996). Environmental and molecular biology of pollen  allergens. Trends in Plant Science 1:156-164.
  4. Schäppi, G., Suphioglu, C., Taylor  P.E. and Knox, R.B. (1997). Concentrations of the major birch tree allergen Bet v 1 in pollen and  respirable fine particles in the atmosphere. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 100:656-662.
  5. Knox, R.B., Suphioglu, C., Taylor, P.,  Desai, R., Watson, H.C., Peng, J.L. and Bursill, L.A. (1997). Major grass pollen allergen Lol p 1 binds to  diesel exhaust particles (DECP): implications for asthma and air pollution. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 27:246-251.
  6. Suphioglu, C. (1998). Thunderstorm asthma due to grass  pollen. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 116:253-260.
  7. Schäppi, G., Taylor, P.E., Kenrick,  J., Staff, I.A. and Suphioglu, C. (1998). Effect of meteorological conditions on the severity of hayfever in Melbourne (Australia). Aerobiologia 14:29-37.
  8. Schäppi, G., Taylor, P.E., Staff, I.A.  and Suphioglu, C. (1999). Concentrations  of the major grass group 5 allergens in pollen and airborne particles:  implications for atmospheric allergen monitoring. Clinical  and Experimental Allergy 29:633-641.
  9. Schäppi, G., Taylor, P.E., Staff,  I.A., Rolland, J.M. and Suphioglu, C. (1999). Immunologic significance of  respirable atmospheric starch granules loaded with major birch allergen Bet v  1. Allergy 54:478-483.
  10. Suphioglu, C. (2000). What are the  important allergens in grass pollen that are linked to human allergic disease? Clinical and Experimental Allergy 30:1335-41.
  11. Taylor, P.E., Jacobson, K.W., House, J.M.  and Glovesky, M.M. (2007). Links between pollen, atopy and the asthma epidemic. International Archives of Allergy and  Immunology 144:162-170.
  12. Erbas, B., Akram,  M., Dharmage, S.C., Tham, R., Dennekamp, M., Newbigin, E., Taylor, P.E., Tang,  M.L.K. and Abramson, M.J. (2012). The role of seasonal grass pollen on  childhood asthma emergency department presentations. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 42:799-805.

Contact

For further information, please contact:

Associate Professor Cenk Suphioglu
Phone: +61 3 522 72886
Email: cenk.suphioglu@deakin.edu.au