Our research covers the climatic and anthropogenic changes of the environment and addresses the question, why allergy prevalence is increasing. The group aims on estimating risks, to develop forecasting methods, to enable primary prevention and discover mechanisms that are important for the prevention and the treatment of allergies. The estimation of risks should lead to preventive steps in order to avoid the spreading of allergens and allergies, e.g. novel allergies against the invading neophyte Ambrosia artimisiifolia.
The group discovered that pollen display an at least 10-fold biological variability when releasing allergens. This result is important for patients with allergies, because symptoms depend on the quantity of the allergen. For the comprehensive investigation of this important correlation a pan-European project was initiated in order to classify the most common released allergens across Europe. The aim, in the interest of the patient, is to develop an early warning system (www.HIALINE.EU). This project was coordinated by Prof. Buters and was sponsored by the European Union.
The investigation of anthropogenic agents of combustion (i.e. diesel engine, wood combustion particles) and their influence on the human immune system is a further project, which is of special relevance for our urbanized environment (www.HICE-vi.eu). Because combustion cannot always be modeled in our laboratories (ship engines), a mobile laboratory was constructed that enables on the spot analysis.
Combustion products occur mainly outdoors, indoor particles are important as well because most individuals stay indoors more than 90 per cent of their time. Our observation is that the fine dust contamination indoor is much higher than outdoors, and that indoor particles (PM10) are toxicologically at least if not more active than outdoor air particles. At present, we analyze the toxicologic impact of airborne particles from elementary schools (ADAPT, Particulate Matter in Indoor Ambient Air). The risk deriving from these dusts is presently uncertain.
Electronic Pollen Information Network (ePIN) is the first robotic pollen monitoring network in the world. We designed the network with extensive studies, basically eliminating superflous monitoring stations by mathematical modeling. Pollen data for Bavaria is now available on-line for free, and a picture every pollen ever caught in Bavaria also on-line.