Environ Health Perspect. 2022 Aug;130(8):87003. doi: 10.1289/EHP10440. Epub 2022 Aug 3.
BACKGROUND: Studies of thunderstorm asthma to understand risk factors using high-resolution climate data and asthma outcomes on a large scale are scarce. Moreover, thunderstorm asthma is not well studied in the United States.
OBJECTIVES: We examined whether climate parameters involved in thunderstorms are associated with emergency department (ED) visits for acute asthma attacks in the United States.
METHODS: We analyzed 63,789 asthma-related, daily ED visits for all age groups, and thunderstorm-associated climate data in Louisiana during 2010 through 2012. We performed time-series analyses using quasi-Poisson regression models with natural cubic splines of date, parish, holiday, day of week, season, daily maximum concentrations of ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter [PM ≤2.5μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5)], and daily mean pressure, precipitation, and temperature. Because of a significant interaction effect between temperature and lightning days on asthma-related visits, we performed stratified analyses by days with/without lightning or thunderstorm (defined by any lightning and precipitation).
RESULTS: On thunderstorm days, higher asthma-related ED visits were associated with higher daily mean precipitation [relative risk (RR)=1.145 per 1 g/m2/s (95% CI: 1.009, 1.300)] and lower daily mean temperature [RR=1.011 per 1°C change (1.000-1.021)] without carry-over effect to the next non-thunderstorm day. These higher risks were found mainly among children and adults <65 years of age. We observed similar results on lightning days. However, we did not find similar associations for non-thunderstorm or non-lightning days. Daily maximum O3 and PM2.5 levels were not significantly associated with asthma ED visits on thunderstorm days.
DISCUSSION: Higher precipitation and lower temperature on thunderstorm days appear to contribute to asthma attacks among people with asthma, suggesting they should consider taking precautions during thunderstorms. EDs should consider preparing for a potential increase of asthma-related visits and ensuring sufficient stock of emergency medication and supplies for forecasted severe thunderstorm days. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP10440.
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