Japanese Fight Hay Fever with New Technology

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WONG:
Each spring hay fever affects nearly twenty million Japanese. The main cause of this allergy in Tokyo is the pollen from Japanese cedar trees. But this year residents are fighting back with new technology.
STORY:
Japanese are again preparing for hay fever season with white masks and medicine, but this year, technology may soften the blow.
The pollen in the air triggers sneezing fits, streaming eyes and headaches, affecting nearly 20 million Japanese especially in big cities like Tokyo.
[Shizuko ushima, Suffers from Hay Fever]:
“It's terrible. I have to wear a mask even when I go to bed.”
The main cause of hay fever in Tokyo is the Japanese cedar tree, which covers more than 10 percent of the country. The trees were planted as a result of a government-backed scheme in the 1950s and 1960s. As the trees have matured, the problem has ballooned to
affect about one in five Japanese.
[Toshi Maeda, Suffers from Hay Fever]:
“I'm in a cedar tree forest north of Tokyo and I can see cedar pollen swirling in the air. Excuse my mask and sunglasses, but if I take these off, I immediately start sneezing and my eyes get itchy.”
But now allergy sufferers are fighting back, with technology.
Tokyo resident Masaaki Murakami has installed a “pollen level detector” on his balcony, which issues warnings on a scale from one to five with the color of the detector's “eyes” changing depending on the level of pollen.
[Masaaki Murakami, Suffers from Hay Fever]:
“The detector eyes are white when the pollen level is low, but when it's high, the eyes turn blue. That's when I get nervous and my nose starts running and getting itchy.”
Murakami's pollen detection ball is one of the 200 such devices distributed across the nation by Japan's Weather News. The collected data are analysed at the company's headquarters and are then released on their Website.
The number of hay fever sufferers in Japan seems to be increasing every year, expert say, partly due to a change in lifestyles and urban housing environment.

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