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Thunderstorms may whip up fungal spores, raise ED visits for asthma. (Not Associated with Grass Pollens).

Emergency department visits for asthma occur more often on days with thunderstorms, due to what appears to be a dose-dependent response to an increase in airborne fungal spores, reported Dr. Robert E. Dales of the University of Ottawa (Ont.) and his associates.

Emergency department (ED) visits to a children's hospital in Ottawa increased by 15% on days with thunderstorms during 1993-1997. Total fungal spore concentrations increased from a normal level of 1,512 /m3 to 2,749/in3 on days with thunderstorms; most of the increase came from Cladosporium and Ascomycetes species spores (Chest 123[3]:745-50, 2003).

Although there were more fungal spores during summer than spring, the number of spores was greater on thunderstorm days than on days without thunderstorms in each season.

"Turbulent winds could increase the release of fungal spores or draw up sedimented fungal spores and resuspend them in the air, making them available for inhalation," the investigators suggested.

Coadjustment for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and other air pollutants that are significantly elevated on thunderstorm days did not significiantly change the effect of fungal spores. ED asthma visits were not associated with aeroallergens from weeds, grasses, or trees.

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Author:Evans, Jeff
Publication:Pediatric News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 2003
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