HEALTH Pollen in storms triggers asthma

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The Independent Online
Hospital admissions of asthma sufferers can rise by almost half when there are thunderstorms during periods of high pollen count, it has emerged.

Admissions of child asthma victims to hospital could increase by up to 45 per cent, while admissions of adults almost doubled when this combination occurred, according to research published today in the British Thoracic Society's journal, Thorax.

Asthma admissions in 14 regional health authorities across the country were recorded for the study, funded by the National Asthma Campaign. Measurements were then taken for air density and concentrations of airborne pollen.

The results showed that thunderstorms with high air density cause an increase in asthma attacks, even with pollen counts at zero, or low or moderate levels. But the effect on the number of asthma attacks was significantly greater during periods of high pollen counts.

Researchers believe that the humidity during a thunderstorm causes pollen grains to break, releasing starch granules, which are rapidly transported by the fast air movement of the thunderstorm and can trigger the attacks.