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Asthma attacks linked to thunderstorms: study


Washington : Researchers have explored the link between thunderstorms and asthma attacks in the first-ever exhaustive study that has significant bearing on public health.

Researchers studying a database comprising more than 10 million emergency room visits in some 41 hospitals between 1993 and 2004, found a 3 percent higher incidence of visits for asthma attacks on days following thunderstorms.

“While a 3 percent increase in risk may seem modest… a modest relative increase could have a significant public health impact for a region with more than five million people,” said Andrew Grundstein, a climatologist at the University of Georgia and co-author of the study.

As a next step, researchers are preparing, for the first time, to apply Doppler radar modelling and observational data to the “thunderstorm asthma” problem.

According to Paige Tolbert, another co-author: “The study will provide new insight into the mechanisms under the phenomenon of thunderstorm-induced asthma.”

Millions of people worldwide have asthma and there has been a dramatic increase in reported cases of the disease, with its prevalence increasing 75 percent between 1980 and 1994.

Grundstein’s initial findings have been published online in the medical journal Thorax.