Asthma admissions and thunderstorms: a study of pollen, fungal spores, rainfall, and ozone

Anderson, Wendy, Prescott, Gordon orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9156-2361, Packham, S., Mullins, J., Brookes, M. and Seaton, Anthony (2001) Asthma admissions and thunderstorms: a study of pollen, fungal spores, rainfall, and ozone. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 94 (8). pp. 429-433. ISSN 1460-2725

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Asthma admissions have been reported to increase during thunderstorms. In some cases, this has been attributed to rises in pollen or fungal spore counts occurring alone or in combination with rainfall. We tested the hypothesis that thunderstorms in general are associated with asthma admissions, and investigated the possible roles of pollen, fungal spores, ozone, and other meteorological factors. We obtained data on multiple pollen and fungal spore counts, rainfall, temperature, ambient ozone concentrations, and asthma admissions for 32 dates when lightning strikes were recorded in the Cardiff/Newport area, and 64 matched dates in previous and subsequent years. Poisson regression models were used to investigate associations between admissions and proposed causative environmental factors. The number of asthma admissions was greater on days with thunderstorms than on control days (p<0.001). There were no associations or interactions between admissions and any pollen or fungal spore counts or rainfall. After adjusting for thunderstorms, there was an independent association between increasing ozone concentration, when temperature was included in the model, and increasing admissions (p=0.02). Asthma admissions are increased during thunderstorms. The effect is more marked in warmer weather, and is not explained by increases in grass pollen, total pollen or fungal spore counts, nor by an interaction between these and rainfall. There was an independent, positive association between ozone concentrations and asthma admissions.

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