In 2016, the most severe thunderstorm asthma (TA) event reported in the medical literature, to date, caused approximately 14,000 people in the Melbourne, Australia area to seek emergency care for respiratory symptoms and contributed to 10 deaths. A team has developed the Victorian Grass Pollen Emission Module (VGPEM1.0) and is using it, along with other scientists, to study mechanisms that cause pollen rupturing and may be responsible for these rare TA events. Results showed several factors cause pollen rupturing including strong winds, lightning strikes and the build-up and discharge of static electricity brought on by low humidity. Surprisingly, high humidity was not a contributing factor. Improvement of the model and additional studies are planned. For now, the scientists believe the best approach for predicting TA events is to monitor for thunderstorms associated with severe wind gusts while also tracking levels of unburst grass pollen in the air.
Back Page: Research model provides unexpected findings on causes of thunderstorm asthma and deadly Australian event
The most severe thunderstorm asthma (TA) event reported caused approximately 14,000 people in Melbourne, Australia to seek emergency care for respiratory symptoms and contributed to 10 deaths. The Victorian Grass Pollen Emission Module is being used to study mechanisms for these rare events. Surprisingly, high humidity was not a factor but strong winds, lightning strikes and static electricity due to low humidity may be causes.