August 01, 2012 08:00 ET

Sexual Equality is Needed in Canada's Urban Landscape

The makers of REACTINE® release first-ever coast-to-coast audit of urban allergy landscape

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 1, 2012) -

Editors Note: There are 11 infographics, one video, one photo, and one report associated with this press release.

There's a battle of the sexes taking place in the plant world and the more than nine million Canadians who suffer from seasonal allergies(i) are its unwitting victims. According to a new national study released today by the makers of REACTINE®, millions of Canadian allergy sufferers might be feeling the effects of male-dominated urban landscapes.

Like most other species, trees are either male or female. PolleNation™, the first study of its kind in Canada, has revealed that Canada's urban forests are allergenic boys' clubs with the trees covering Canada's urban landscapes being predominantly male - making up 74 to 98 percent of the canopy, depending on the city. This sheds new light on the suffering experienced by more than five and a half million Canadians with pollen allergies(ii).

"Males trees are responsible for producing pollen while female trees collect it as part of reproduction," says horticulturist, allergy-friendly plant and gardening expert, and consultant to the makers of REACTINE®, Thomas Leo Ogren, M.Sc, "However female trees drop seeds and fruits while males are considered litter-free so they are favoured in urban planning. These pollen producing trees and shrubs now cover most of our cities."

This sexual-imbalance means more pollen and worsening symptoms for urban allergy sufferers. But there is hope!

"There are simple changes you can make in your own backyard to tip the balance back in your favour," says Ogren. "If you or your neighbour has a male tree in your yard, plant a female one. The same goes for Canada's urban spaces where creating gender balance in the planted landscape will help make life more comfortable for allergy sufferers."

Our True North Strong and Tree

"When considering a city's tree canopy, an area approximately 40 per cent of the size of the city is considered to be the gold standard amongst urban foresters worldwide," says Ogren. "Currently there is no Canadian city that has achieved this amount, with canopies averaging from five to 27 per cent. Of that canopy, the trees are mostly male."

By removing allergens and CO2 from the air, trees are an important part of a city's ecosystem and act as natural air filters. It's clear we need to increase the overall canopy but how do you choose what to plant to ensure any increases don't result in more pollen production?

Ogren recommends that city planners add the allergy potential of a tree to their list of considerations when selecting new trees to plant. Items currently on the list include criteria like size, fall colour and winter hardiness. By considering the sex of a plant and its allergenic potential, cities will be able to increase their tree canopy without increasing allergies.

Examples of allergy-friendly trees that would grow well in Canada include spruce, pine, and larch.

The Most Allergenic Offender

When looking at the most commonly planted allergenic tree in all of Canada, Ogren found that the Norway Maple is the main offender. In fact, it was present in every Canadian city on the tour.

Just how allergenic is a Norway Maple? It's an eight of out 10 on the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale™ (OPALS), a classification system that determines how allergy-friendly - or not - a plant is, with one being least allergenic and ten being most allergenic. OPALS has been proven so effective it's even been adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture.

About PolleNation

The Makers of REACTINE® commissioned horticulturist and allergy-friendly plant and gardening expert Thomas Leo Ogren, M.Sc to conduct the audit. Ogren travelled to 11 cities across Canada, from Victoria, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia in spring 2012, evaluating the nation's urban canopy.

Through PolleNation™, the makers of REACTINE® have learned how important balance and gender equality in the planted landscape are for those suffering from seasonal allergies.

"We commissioned this research because we want to help sufferers better understand their allergies," says Alan Ross, Brand Manager for REACTINE®. "We feel this information will be beneficial not only for the cities studied, but for individuals in their own lives because it will lead to better allergy management. Whether at a city level or in a private backyard, we encourage people to think about the allergy-potential of a tree, shrub or plant - choose foliage and flowers that are allergy-friendly to create an environment that is easy on the eyes and the allergies."

The full PolleNation™ audit can be found at, along with an allergy-friendly gardening video featuring Tom Ogren and other related tips.

About McNeil Consumer Healthcare (Canada):

McNeil Consumer Healthcare (Canada), Division of Johnson & Johnson Inc., markets a broad range of well known and trusted over-the-counter (OTC) products, including TYLENOL®, REACTINE®, MOTRIN®, ROLAIDS®, IMODIUM® AND ZANTAC®.

(i) According to recent, proprietary research conducted with Canadians for the makers of REACTINE®
(ii) According to recent, proprietary research conducted with Canadians for the makers of REACTINE®

To view the report associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

To view the video associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

To view the infographics associated with this press release, please visit the following links:

Contact Information

  • To receive the full PolleNation(TM) report or
    for further information please contact:
    GolinHarris for REACTINE(R)
    Meghan Ney
    Work: 416-642-7957 or Cell: 416-727-4404



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