Pollen monitoring in Australia has rapidly expanded, particularly in response to needs identified following the world’s most devastating thunderstorm asthma epidemic in Melbourne, 2016. Pollen identification and quantification are integral processes of establishing a standardised pollen monitoring network. A pilot study was designed to assess proficiency in these processes of counters who contribute to daily pollen information at established pollen monitoring sites of the AusPollen Aerobiology Collaboration Network. Counters were instructed to count grass and other pollen along four longitudinal transects of two reference slides at lens magnification of 400×. Participants were asked about their experience, training and usual practice in pollen counting via an online questionnaire. Of the 44 counters invited, 15 consented to participate. Reported pollen concentration values were compared to an approximation of the assigned true concentration values. Overall, 86% of reported values were within acceptable ranges of variation from assigned values. Apparent courting proficiency could have been affected by study limitations including slide quality and high/low pollen concentrations. Although counting performance did not appear to be related to experience and amount of training received, the majority of participants were not highly experienced or trained and the number of participants was small. It was not possible in this pilot study to make conclusions regarding relationships between training or experience and counter proficiency. Evaluation of counter proficiency is an important step in providing more accurate pollen concentrations, which are integral to local daily pollen forecasts for optimum day-to-day management of pollen-related conditions.
- Quality control
- Grass pollen