University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Acute Asthma Epidemics, Weather and Pollen in England, 1987-1994

Newson, R., Strachan, D.P., Archibald, E., Emberlin, Jean, Hardaker, P. and Collier, C. (1998) Acute Asthma Epidemics, Weather and Pollen in England, 1987-1994. European Respiratory Journal, 11 (3). pp. 694-701. ISSN Print: 0903-1936 Online: 1399-3003

Full text not available from this repository.


Recent epidemics of acute asthma have caused speculation that, if their causes were known, early warnings might be feasible. In particular, some epidemics seemed to be associated with thunderstorms. We wondered what risk factors predicting epidemics could be identified. Daily asthma admissions counts during 1987-1994, for two age groups (0-14 yrs and > or = 15 yrs), were measured using the Hospital Episodes System (HES). Epidemics were defined as combinations of date, age group and English Regional Health Authority (RHA) with exceptionally high asthma admission counts compared to the predictions of a log-linear autoregression model. They were compared with control days 1 week before and afterwards, regarding seven meteorological variables and 5 day average pollen counts for four species. Fifty six asthma epidemics were identified. The mean density of sferics (lightning flashes), temperature and rainfall on epidemic days were greater than those on control days. High sferics densities were overrepresented in epidemics. Simultaneously high sferics and grass pollen further increased the probability of an epidemic, but only to 15% (95% confidence interval 2-45%). Two thirds of epidemics were not preceded by thunderstorms. Thunderstorms and high grass pollen levels precede asthma epidemics more often than expected by chance. However, most epidemics are not associated with thunderstorms or unusual weather conditions, and most thunderstorms, even following high grass pollen levels, do not precede epidemics. An early warning system based on the indicators examined here would, therefore, detect few epidemics and generate an unacceptably high rate of false alarms.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

The full-text can be accessed via the official URL.

Originally deposited as National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU)

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: meteorology, pollen, thunderstorm, asthma epidemics, pollen counts, grass pollen, NPARU
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2007 08:57
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 16:48

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.