For Release

March 14, 1996 AAAAI

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
611 E. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3889

Contact: Linda Bleimehl
Fax 414/272-6070


1-800-9-POLLEN Offers Only Standardized Pollen-Count Data in Country

MILWAUKEE - The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) today announced the launch of the National Allergy Bureau (NAB) toll-free information line, 1-800-9-POLLEN. The new service will allow an estimated 50 million allergy sufferers in the U.S. to access reliable and timely pollen and mold spore counts in their calling area on a weekly basis. Additionally, callers will receive self-management tools to help them monitor and seek relief from troublesome allergy symptoms - sneezing, runny nose, itching, watering eyes.

The NAB, a program of the AAAAI's Aeroallergen Network, is the nation's only certified network with a standardized format for collecting pollen and spore samples. The NAB has established 79 stations in 32 states and the District of Columbia, each managed by a physician and staffed by a uniformly trained and certified counter. This data, along with practical lifestyle tips for managing year-round, indoor allergies, will be updated weekly and - for the first time - available directly to the public via 1-800-9 POLLEN. Since 1992, the NAB has served as an information resource to the media by releasing the National Allergy Bureau Report every Thursday.

"For years, there's been a tremendous demand for reliable, local pollen and mold spore count data to help seasonal allergy sufferers anticipate good and bad days and plan accordingly," said Harriet Burge, Associate Professor of Environmental Microbiology, Harvard School of Public Health, and Director of the AAAAI Certification Program. "While there are other networks that release pollen-count information, none of the counts are guaranteed to be collected with the same high-quality standards the AAAAI Aeroallergen Network requires of the NAB."

In a nine-week Pennsylvania test market of 1-800-9-POLLEN, supported by a grant from Pfizer Inc., more than 3,200 calls were placed to the toll-free line for useful information on the current levels of tree, grass and weed pollens and mold spores in the caller's zip code area. Data was monitored by official NAB stations in Erie, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

"I was impressed with Pennsylvania's response to the 800 number," said Phillip Gallagher, M.D., Erie, Pennsylvania. "Having first-hand experience with the NAB's system, I would recommend the 800 number to my allergy patients and people who travel or are looking to relocate. I think doctors and patients across the country will quickly appreciate this service."

Unprecedented Regulation of Standards
NAB differentiates itself from other pollen-count services based on its unique and standardized method of sample collection, its extensive number of station sites and stringent quality control measures.

Once certified, a station must collect samples a minimum of three days per week using either a Rotorod sampler (Sampling Technologies, Inc.), a Burkard wind-oriented spore trap (Burkard Manufacturing Co., Ltd.), or a Kramer-Collins sampler (GR Electric Manufacturing Co.). The sampler must be situated on an unobstructed rooftop at least one story above ground. Each station is directed by a trained allergist who is a member of the AAAAI, with counts completed at each station by one or more counters who have completed uniform training and passed a series of tests assuring that each can identify and accurately count a required list of pollens and spores. Counts are summarized for the NAB as "absent," "low," "moderate," "high," or "very high" levels.

Self-Management Tips for Every Season
Despite popular myths, allergy symptoms are not limited to the spring, summer and fall - when pollen and mold spores are most abundant. As many as 16 million Americans suffer from perennial (year-round) allergies, usually caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, animal dander, and indoor molds. Perennial allergies often peak during the winter months when windows and doors are sealed shut. Due to the chronic nature of symptoms, perennial allergies can be particularly difficult to diagnose and treat. Many patients and healthcare providers mistake allergy symptoms to be the result of a cold or flu.

Because the NAB is dedicated to the study of aeroallergens (airborne allergens) to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of all allergic disease - seasonal and perennial - 1-800-9-POLLEN also provides easy-to-follow recorded tips for living with allergies year- round. A menu of three pre-recorded lifestyle tips is updated monthly and covers: travel, work, social outings, home decorating and cleaning, shopping, exercise and sports, gardening and much more. Callers also can choose to receive written materials to help facilitate diagnosis and treatment of their specific allergies. Materials include: fact sheet on managing perennial vs. seasonal allergies; a pollen calendar which includes pollen and mold season information from around the world. All consumer information is developed with NAB medical experts to ensure its accuracy and timeliness.

"I'm still surprised by how many people don't realize which airborne allergens cause them problems and how they can make simple adjustments in their lives to help manage their allergies," said Harriet Burge." Our 1-800-9-POLLEN services and materials are designed to ease the burden of allergy sufferers and their doctors by offering practical, yet often overlooked, advice on managing allergies."

About the NAB
The National Allergy Bureau is the media reporting division of the AAAAI's Aeroallergen Network. Officially organized in 1992, the NAB is the nation's only certified pollen and mold counting network. Currently, the NAB has 79 certified stations in 32 states.

About the AAAAI
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is the largest national medical specialty organization representing allergists, clinical immunologists and allied health professionals. Established in 1943, the Academy has more than 5,000 members in the United States, Canada and in 41 other countries.

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