POLLAR: Impact of air POLLution on Asthma and Rhinitis

EITH – H2020

A European Institute of Innovation and Technology Health (EIT Health) project.

Allergic rhinitis (AR) is impacted by allergens and air pollution but interactions between air pollution, sleep and allergic diseases are insufficiently understood. The Allergy Diary will be combined with a new tool allowing queries on allergen, pollen (TLR2), sleep quality and disorders (TRL2) as well as existing longitudinal and geolocalized pollution data. Machine learning will be used to assess the relationship between air pollution, sleep and AR comparing polluted and non-polluted areas in 6 EU countries. Data generated in 2018 will be confirmed in 2019 and extended by the individual prospective assessment of pollution (portable sensor, TLR7) in AR. Sleep apnea patients will be used as a demonstrator of sleep disorder that can be modulated in terms of symptoms and severity by air pollution and AR. The geographic information system GIS will map the results. Consequences on quality of life (EQ-5D), asthma, school, work and sleep will be monitored and disseminated towards the population. The impacts of POLLAR will be (1) to propose novel care pathways integrating pollution, sleep and patients’ literacy, (2) to study sleep consequences of pollution and its impact on frequent chronic diseases, (3) to improve work productivity, (4) to propose the basis for a sentinel network at the EU level for pollution and allergy, (5) to assess the societal implications of the interaction. MASK paper N°32.


POLLAR (Impact of air POLLution on sleep, Asthma and Rhinitis) is a project of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Health). It will use a freely-existing application for AR monitoring that has been tested in 23 countries (the Allergy Diary, iOS and Android, 17,000 users, TLR8).

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Mehdi Cheraitia


Exposure to ambient air pollution increases morbidity and mortality. It is a leading contributor to global disease burden [1, 2]. The role of air pollution on cardiovascular events [3], COPD [4], sleep apnea [5] and asthma exacerbations [6] is clear. In allergic rhinitis (AR), air pollution is one of the risk factors that induces allergic sensitization and deteriorates the AR condition, but data are sometimes conflicting [7]. Moreover, data on the impact of air pollution on AR multimorbidity [8] or severity are scarce [9] and not always conclusive, probably due to methodological problems.
Meteorological factors such as temperature, sunlight and humidity as well as air pollution can affect pollen emission and allergenic concentration [10, 11, 12]. Traffic-related pollutants [13] and diesel exhaust particles can disrupt pollen, leading to the release of pauci-micronic particles which can penetrate in the bronchi [14]. Asthma due to pollen may be associated topeaks of air pollution [15, 16, 17, 18, 19]. These data suggest an important interaction between pollens and pollution, inducing asthma in AR patients during the pollen season. However, more data should be collected and mobile technology may be interesting.
MASK-rhinitis (Mobile Airways Sentinel NetworK for allergic rhinitis) is a patient centred ICT system [20]. A mobile phone app (Allergy Diary) central to MASK has been launched in 23 countries and has been validated [21, 22, 23, 24].
Many different methods are used to monitor pollen exposure [25, 26, 27, 28]. Pollen counts can assess the exposure of pollen-allergic patients [29]. The assessment of allergen content in the air is feasible [30] but requires sophisticated methods that may not account for all of the pollen species in the ambient air. Meteorological data may, in the future, be of interest for predicting the onset of the season, but more data are required [31]. Combining several sources using advanced data engineering may also be important but these data are still complex and, in many different areas, not yet available for all pollen species [25, 26, 27, 28, 32]. Google Trends (GT) is a Web-based surveillance tool that uses Google to explore the searching trends of specific queries. Recent studies have suggested the utility of GT for assessing the seasonality of allergic diseases [33, 34, 35, 36, 37]. GT reflects the real-world AR epidemiology and could potentially be used as a monitoring tool for allergic rhinitis [38, 39].
Interactions between air pollution, sleep quality, sleep disorders [40] and allergic diseases are clear but insufficiently understood. POLLAR (Impact of Air POLLution on sleep, Asthma andRhinitis) is a new project of the EIT Health that will embed environmental data into the Allergy Diary. POLLAR aims at combining emerging technologies (search engine Technology Readiness level TLR2; sleep assessment, pollution sampler TLR6, Allergy Diary TLR9) with machine learning to (1) understand the effects of air pollution in allergic rhinitis and its impact on sleep, work and asthma, (2) assess societal consequences, shared with citizens, corporate citizens and professionals (3) propose preventive strategies and (4) develop participative policies…


Aerospace,  AI,  Big Data, Environment,  Health

European Institute

Open File
Publication – Mehdi Cheraitia 

Partner / Scientific Consortium Member / Data Scientists

Jan. 2018 – Jan. 2019

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