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Link shown between thunderstorms and asthma attacks in metro Atlanta area
Date:7/10/2008

s, and that gusty winds from thunderstorm downdrafts spread particles . . . which may ultimately increase the risk of asthma attacks."

The team used thunderstorm occurrences from meteorological data gathered at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and compared that information with the vast database of emergency room visits to arrive at the figure of a three percent increase in asthma-related emergency room visits following thunderstorms for the study period.

In all, during the 11-year period, there were 564 thunderstorm days, and in order to better understand the physical mechanisms that relate thunderstorms and asthma, the team also mined the information on total daily rainfall and maximum five-second wind gusts, which they used as "a surrogate for thunderstorm downdrafts and to indicate the maximum wind speed of the storm."

In all, there were 215,832 asthma emergency room visits during the period and 28,350 of these occurred on days following thunderstorms. While the new study is the first of its kind in the South and does clearly indicate a relationship between thunderstorms and asthma in the metro Atlanta area, much more work remains, Grundstein said.

"Obtaining a better understanding of the mechanistic basis of the phenomenon of thunderstorm-induced asthma will allow for better intervention strategies and improved emergencies services planning," said Stefanie Ebelt Sarnat of Emory. "This will be particularly important in the era of climate change."

Grundstein added that in the Atlanta area conditions favorable for an estimated doubling of severe thunderstorms are expected within this century.


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Contact: Kim Osborne
kosborne@uga.edu
706-583-0913
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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