Thunderstorms are part and parcel of Queensland’s spring and summer. In parts of Australia, thunderstorms can be deadly for people with hay fever and asthma, says QUT Faculty of Health expert Professor Janet Davies.
“Thunderstorms combined with extreme levels of grass pollen triggered asthma in thousands of people across Melbourne last November,” Professor Davies said.
“On November 21 there were 10 deaths, more than 30 intensive care admissions from asthma and 4000 emergency department presentations due to breathing difficulty after a severe thunderstorm.
“Many people who had hay fever but who had never had asthma before experienced asthma symptoms such as breathlessness.
“We believe the high concentration of airborne grass pollen grains broke into much smaller particles due to the rain and storm conditions, and were much more easily breathed in.
“When these minute pollen allergen particles entered the airways of people prone to grass pollen allergy, it triggered asthma symptoms.”