German researchers have developed a breakthrough technology that may make life easier people who are allergic to plant pollen.
Writing about their work in the semi-monthly journal ACS' Analytical Chemistry, the researchers highlight the fact that current pollen counts and allergy warnings are based on visual identification of the specific kind of pollen by examining pollen grains under a microscope.
Dr. Janina Kneipp, who led the study at the Humboldt University of Berlin, says that procedure takes time and thus makes it impossible for allergy-sufferers to know the kinds of pollen that are airborne on an hour-by-hour basis.
She said that a common laboratory procedure could help identify chemical structures in pollen grains that distinguish oak and maple pollen, for instance, from maple and other kinds.
She revealed that her team had obtained such chemical "signatures" for 15 different kinds of tree pollen with the procedure, termed Raman spectroscopy.
The researcher said that it could provide the basis for a real-time pollen detection and warning system to help allergy sufferers.