The history of studies on the occurrence and concentration of pollen and fungal spores in the air in Poland.

The studies on pollen and fungal spore concentrations in the air started in Poland several years after the introduction of the pollen analysis method applied for the reconstruction of the plant and climate history and also for the deposit dating, especially Holocene and Pleistocene deposits.
First publications referring to deposition speed of some tree pollen, deposition of tree pollen in forest communities and to long distance pollen transport were released in 1937, 1939 and 1948 (Dyakowska, Bremówna and Sobolewska, Dyakowska respectively).
The aeropalynological studies for a medical use were initiated by doctors of the new discipline, allergology. Professor Mieczysław Obtułowicz (1902-1970) Nestor of the Polish allergology introduced this discipline to medicine. In the publication ‘About pollen rhinitis’ released in ‘Medical Biology’ (1936) he produced suggestions on etiology and treatment of pollen rhinitis and (after Nowakowski’s manuscript) calendars of flowering and pollination of allergenic plants (grasses, trees) in the area of Kraków. He also encouraged Anna Weiss (1962) to study fungal spore concentrations in Kraków and Rabka Spa. In sixtieth of the last century Wanda Koperowa started her study on the pollen fall in the Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków co-operating with allergologists working for the Allergology Clinic of the then Medical Academy. Wanda Koperowa, after training at the professor H.A. Hyde Laboratory in England, analysed the pollen fall (1964-1967) using the Durham trap. Unfortunately results of her studies remained unpublished.
The first pollen calendar was presented by Mieczysław Dąbrowski (1974) on the basis of the pollen fall analysis. Pollen was collected by crystallizers at the heights of 20 and 120 m above ground level in the centre of Warszawa in 1960. In 1971-1972 also in Warszawa aeropalynological analyses were performed by a laryngologist Edward Zawisza (1974).
In Bydgoszcz a laryngologist Ryszard Gniazdowski co-operated with a botanist Franciszek Klimas accomplishing the aeropalynological studies in 1972. Then pollen analyses were completed with phenological plant observation. Since 1997 in Łódź aeropalynological investigations have been performed by a biologist Małgorzata Wnuk in co-operation with a laryngologist Krzysztof Buczyłko (Buczyłko, Wnuk 1979).
From 1982 in Kraków Kazimierz Szczepanek, inspired by an allergologist Krystyna Obtułowicz, started full year’s aeropalynological analyses, which continued up to 1997 (Szczepanek 1994; Szczepanek et al. 1994; Szczepanek 2006). More and more allergologists were involved in diagnosis and treatment of people sensitive to pollen allergens. For this reason the interdisciplinary team of allergologists and palynologists came into being in Kraków and started, as first in Poland, the co-operation with the European Aeroallergen Network (EAN) in Vienna (Obtułowicz et al. 1990; Szczeklik et al. 1991).
In 1990 volumetric traps (Burkard, Lanzoni) were applied for aeropalynological studies in two sites: in Rabka Spa in Pediatric Division of Institute for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases which was initiated by professor Jan Rudnik, and in Kraków.
At the end of eightieth in Łódź professors Krzysztof Buczyłko and Edward Zawisza, and a laryngologist Piotr Rapiejko initiated a formation of Allergen Research Center (presently active in Warszawa). The Centre aim was to form a network of measuring points at which seasonal analyses of the pollen and fungal spore occurrence and concentration were performed. The first report on pollen and fungal spore concentrations was released in ‘Ekspres Ilustrowany’ in Łódź.
In 1992 in Poznań Alicja Stach started the aeropalynological studies using the gravimetric method. Since 1996 she performed the aerobiological monitoring using the Burkard trap, for the Allergic Diseases Diagnostic Centre needs in Poznań.
At the beginning of ninetieth the professional education within the scope of aerobiology started on master’s and doctor’s levels at universities in Kraków,Gdańsk and Lublin. Up to date 11 persons completed their doctor’s theses and some of them have their next scientific degree in progress. All these studies were supported by the then Polish Committee for Scientific Research which enabled the purchase of the needed scientific equipment.
The intensive training, organized by Kazimierz Szczepanek at the Institute of Botany, Jagiellonian University in Kraków in 1994, enabled aerobiologists to get to know the methods applied in aeropalynological studies and the attendance of the scientific equipment. In 1995 a two year programme on the regional differentiation of pollen and fungal spore (Alternaria, Cladosporium) concentrations started along the north-south transect (Poznań, Warszawa, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Kraków, Zakopane), (Kasprzyk et al. 1997; Stępalska et al. 1999).
The studies in 1995-1996 were associated with the further close co-operation between allergologists and palynologists. The network of measuring points widened including stands attended by palynologists working for universities (Lublin 1995, Rzeszów 1996, Sosnowiec 1996, Szczecin 2000, Wrocław 2002). In Kraków and Lublin analyses of fungal spore concentrations of selected taxa started in 2001 using the volumetric method.

The increasing individual and collective activity and interest in aerobiology, and possibility of using pollen monitoring results in an allergological practice were observed in Poland since the end of eightieth of the last century. The results of this activity are following:
  • numerous publications in national and international journals,
  • international certificates for aerobiologists who completed basic and advanced courses organized by the International Association for Aerobiology (IAA),
  • active participation (presentation of study results) of Polish aerobiologists in the European and international congresses for aerobiology and in conferences linking the botanical and medical subject matter (i.e. the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology),
  • aeropalynologists participation in international projects (MONALISA, COST-EUPOL, HIALINE),
  • organizing of the 6th European Basic Course for Aerobiology in Poznań, in 2003, in which Polish aerobiologists took part as participants, assistants and lecturers,
  • workshops organized within the limits of the AEROTOP project in Poznań, in 2005-2007 (international lecturers),
  • annual conferences of ‘Pollen Allergy Days’, organized in Kraków since 1999, gathering botanists, palynologists and doctors,
  • all-Polish Scientific Conferences on biology of flowering, nectar production and plant pollination and pollen allergy, organized in Lublin in 1997-2007,
  • formation of the Aerobiological Section within the Polish Botanical Society (2005),
  • publication of the monograph: Plant pollen in aeroplankton of different regions in Poland (Lublin 2006), and the first manual for aerobiology (Lublin 2007), both edited by professor Elżbieta Weryszko-Chmielewska,
  • initiation of creation of the Polish Aerobiological Network (2008),
  • decision of IAA (Turku 2008) on the organization of the 5th European Symposium for Aerobiology in Kraków, in 2012.