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Monday, April 28, 2008

Visit the First 'Allergy-Friendly Community'

Baabe lies about as far northeast as you can go in Germany, a seaside resort town on the island of Rügen in an archipelago sticking out from the mainland into the Baltic Sea near the Polish border.

It has a pretty, if shallow, white-sand beach that must be nice in the summertime. Winters probably get blustery, though.

I'm sure it's a pleasant vacation spot if you live in Hamburg, Germany, about 200 miles away, the closest city I can find whose name I recognize. By why should anyone else pay attention to it?

Because next week it'll named the world’s first "allergy-friendly community" by the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF).

An article in The Local (Germany's News in English) gives us the details.

[Uta Donner, the town’s marketing director] said that so far 180 beds in rental homes, hotels and pensions, furnished with special mite-free mattress covers, have been certified allergy-friendly by ECARF. Restaurants, supermarkets and bakeries will also take part, selling allergy-sensitive products like gluten-free bread and milk-free ice cream. Even some hair salons will sell allergy-sensitive products and services.

Pollen-rich trees will no longer be planted in the town, and a special pollen-catching net is under construction so scientists can analyze the town’s pollen quantities, German news agency DDP reports.

Other amenities for the über-sensitive include specific food allergy provisions, special vacuum cleaners to reduce dust, and nickel-free cooking implements.

The article says that 30% of Germans suffer from allergies, a number that seems high to me, even if you add up every type of allergy in existence, even the extremely mild generalized dust/pollen allergy that I have. A high number is good for scaring, er, luring tourists to the tiny town, though.

And how can I argue with the easy availability of allergen-free food?

Now to persuade American tourist traps to set out their lures.

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