More than 20% of the Swiss population suffers from a pollen allergy. The life quality of people subject to allergic rhinitis is highly affected and the economic impact is substantial. In the EU the cost per person with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is up to 1’600€ per year including the direct treatment cost and the indirect costs due to decreased productivity.
Since about 1950, pollen measurement in Switzerland and Europe is based on the established but old fashioned Hirst pollen traps. The pollen are collected by an adhesive strip, which is analyzed manually once every week in a laboratory using microscopy by a person to identify and count the pollen. This is very time-consuming, expensive and the data is only available after up to nine days. Therefore, there are only 14 pollen collecting facilities all over Switzerland. For a pollen forecast there is neither information in real-time available nor is the regional resolution adequate. An improved regional and temporal resolution is desirable, because the life quality of persons with pollen allergies can be improved strongly, if they get information about the pollen concentration on an hourly basis. It allows affected people to take focused precautionary actions which lower the negative symptomatic effects. Furthermore their productivity will not be affected anymore which leads to lower economical costs due to pollen allergies. There is an urgent need for better pollen information. Until now there are no devices that are able to autonomously identify different pollen in real-time.
The Aim Of Swisens
Swisens Ltd stays in close contact with stakeholders who are highly interested in such devices, like MeteoSwiss and German Weather Service and is developing new devices which will address this need.
The aim of Swisens Ltd is to establish their device as a standard for automatic pollen identification on the market and consequently automate pollen measurement worldwide. Furthermore the potential of the measurement devices of Swisens Ltd outreaches automatic pollen identification by far. Allergology, medicine in general, air quality measurement, biology and climatology are fields where there is a big need for low-cost and reliable aerosol particle identification.
The subject of allergy is very important, because there are more and more people which are affected by allergies and the overall health costs due to allergies are increasing. While no one dies directly as a result of allergic rhinitis, the economic impact is substantial. Direct costs of over $600 million are spent in the USA annually in the management of this disease. This does not include the indirect costs of the two million lost workdays, three million lost school days and 28 million days of decreased productivity caused by the symptoms of the disease and/or side effects of the medications used to treat them. Solely in Europe the direct and indirect costs are estimated to about 55 to 151 Billion € per year. According to studies of the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients Associations (EFA) more than 80 Million (over 24%) of the adults in Europe are suffering from allergies and the prevalence of children, which lies between 30% to 40%, shows an increasing trend. The EFA postulates a Europe-wide legal binding for pollen measurements. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EACCI) is postulating new and standardized measurement methods for allergenic aerosols with biological origin.