What We Do
Asthma and Allergies are becoming more prominent in society.
A recent report from Health Canada indicates that asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions affecting Canadians. According to the survey, aeroallergens such as pollen and mold spores are a major asthma trigger. Asthma symptoms and attacks usually occur after exercise, exposure to allergens or irritants, or viral respiratory infections.
Aerobiology Research Laboratories currently operates 30 monitoring stations that gather pollen and spore samples daily using the innovative aeroallergen rotation impaction samplers, redesigned by Aerobiology Research Laboratories. They are strategically placed throughout Canada in highly populated areas and regions with differing biological diversity. This allows us to provide aeroallergen levels and forecasts that are appropriate for areas affecting the majority of the general populous.
The samples are collected by associates in the field and shipped to Aerobiology Research Laboratories, where they are analyzed by our highly trained laboratory staff. The counts, or total number of particles per cubic meter of air sampled for each identified particle type, are stored in an ever-growing data warehouse. This database allows us to query and summarize current and historical allergen levels in a flexible and efficient manner, supporting our research and forecasting operations as well as the data needs of our clients.
Our policy on staff qualifications and training is one of many properties that differentiates our company from others in the same field. Our methodology is standardized, and we have management systems in place to ensure the quality of our results. All laboratory and research staff are post-secondary graduates with specializations in Biology, Statistics or Computer Science. In addition, all laboratory staff are required to complete our intensive in-house training course, before analyzing samples. This training, combined with standardized methods of counting and reporting, allows us to ensure the quality of our data. For quality assurance we use only our own sampling equipment for monitoring projects. In response to the demanding nature of long-term allergen monitoring, we manufacture robust rotation impaction samplers and accessories to ensure consistent and reliable operation in the field.
We are committed to efficiency in our operations, and use computer assistance whenever possible. This allows us to produce reliable and consistent data products for a reasonable price, and enables our research activities. We do not generate reports of aeroallergen levels for locations where we do not have a station. All of our reports and forecasts are backed up with near real time counts. As we are providing information relating to people’s health, we feel it is important that the report be accurate and substantiated.
We are actively engaged in research to increase our knowledge and understanding of the relationships between allergen levels and the environment, as well as the improvement of reports for public education. Fungal spores are notably a major source of airborne allergens, and we are actively advocating for the distribution of this information.
One of the primary functions of Aerobiology Research Laboratories is our research in allergen forecasting.
Pollen seasons can vary dramatically from year to year, this is especially true for trees. Pollination depends on the type of winter and spring experienced, and the weather conditions during pollination. The start of the pollen season can vary by as much as a month for some trees. The amount of pollen released daily is affected by temperature fluctuations throughout the day, rainfall and daylight hours.
There are thousands of genera and species of fungal spores that can be present in outdoor air samples. One of Aerobiology’s research goals is to identify all fungal spores that are known to be allergenic. This can be a challenge since a great deal is unknown about the relationship between fungal spores and the role they play in allergies and asthma. Thus, identification of air borne spores and what role they play in allergies requires further research.
Pathogenic fungal species and their spores are found in multiple genera, but not all species in a genus cause disease. Identification to the species level is not possible using microscopy. In our reports we identify the spores to the lowest classification level possible (typically genera) and report the concentration level.
It is important to keep in mind that an individual’s sensitivity is specific to that individual, therefore, the level of outdoor allergens may not reflect the potential of allergic reactions. This is due to the predominance of one or more specific species of pollen or spore, the possibility of multiple allergies, cross-reactivity between allergens or any combination of these. Allergies are very individual and reports on outdoor allergens have to be used in conjunction with a person’s reaction and a medical professional.
History and Achievements
Aerobiology Research Laboratories has been an innovative provider of accurate scientific aeroallergen data across Canada since 1993. Our programs are unique to the field of aerobiology and have evolved for over 20 years to ensure the highest standard of aeroallergen reporting for both aeroallergen data and pollen forecasts.
Prior to incorporation in 1993 the company’s founder, Lee Coates was involved in a pollen and mold spore identification and research program. This included developing the computer programs used to simplify counting and analysis of the resulting data. The founders of Aerobiology Research Laboratories were also involved in the formation of the Pan-American Aerobiology Association in the late 1980s. The Pan-American Aerobiology Association together with the International Aerobiology Association is tasked with keeping people in the field of aerobiology all over the world in touch with each other based on common interests, activities, and goals, for the benefit of the field.
Aerobiology Research Laboratories has been actively involved in research and presentation at the American Association of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the Pan-American Aerobiology Association, and other conferences relating to air quality.
We work closely with universities and government agencies to provide information on aeroallergens for studies relating to their affects on health. Pharmaceutical companies also use our data products and services to support their clinical trials and market studies. We are broadening the information available to the public by providing reports to web sites and mobile services that give an accurate forecast of aeroallergens for the current and next three days. Our expertise and data has contributed to a number of informative reports and scientific papers that have been published in peer-reviewed journals.
Executive Leadership Team
Frances A. Coates(President and CEO)Frances received her training at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and was certified by the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists. Specializing in microbiology she has worked in hospital, public health and private medical laboratories. Frances is the current President and CEO of Aerobiology Research Laboratories, where she specializes in pollen and spore identification, as well as the training and continuous quality monitoring of laboratory personnel.
Dawn Jurgens(Director, Operations and Quality Management)As Director of Operations and Quality Management, Dawn possesses a Masters Degree in Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology and is an integral member of our management team. Dawn is our internal auditor in charge of quality control. She directs our collection and analysis team analyzing pollen and mold spores as well as the production of the pollen forecast reports. Dawn leads our manufacturing team that assembles and maintains the rotation impaction samplers used to collect the air samples in the field.
Ian Stakenvicius(Information Technology and Research Developer)Ian has over ten years experience in Information Technology supported by a Bachelor of Computer Science Degree. He is responsible for the development and maintenance of the IT infrastructure and data systems at Aerobiology Research Laboratories. Additionally, he heads many of the research and development activities including statistical research, data modelling, and product development. Ian also wears the hat of Quality Manager for the company's Quality Management System.
Daniel Coates(Director, Marketing and Business Development)Daniel heads the Marketing, Communications and Business Development at Aerobiology Research Laboratories (A.R.L) having held Marketing Director positions in the Hospitality & Tourism, Education and Transportation Industries. A recent addition to the Aerobiology Research Laboratories team Daniel is looking to promote the company's brand with it’s existing customers and explore new market potentials. As Director, Marketing and Communications, Daniel develops and implements communications and media strategies that successfully deliver information and key messages to the public.