‘Dan­ger’ in the air we breathe

Pollen count fore­cast­ing sys­tem to aid hay fever, asthma suf­fer­ers

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News - By STRUAN JONES

HAY fever and asthma suf­fer­ers have been put on no­tice as Vic­to­ria’s grass pollen sea­son kicks in.

The state’s world-lead­ing pollen count fore­cast­ing sys­tem de­liv­ered its first epi­demic thun­der­storm asthma fore­cast for 2018 this week.

The sys­tem was es­tab­lished two years ago in re­sponse to the un­usual epi­demic thun­der­storm asthma event that hit Mel­bourne on Novem­ber 24, 2016 re­sult­ing in 10 deaths.

Vic­to­ria’s deputy chief health of­fi­cer Dr Angie Bone said with the fore­cast­ing sys­tem live this week, Vic­to­ri­ans can mon­i­tor the fore­cast and those at in­creased risk can take ac­tions to pro­tect them­selves on high-risk days.

The mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem reads pollen coun­ters, and is lo­cated in eight lo­ca­tions around Vic­to­ria, with Dookie the clos­est to the Ru­ral City of Wan­garatta.

“The sys­tem also en­ables health pro­fes­sion­als and emer­gency ser­vices to be pre­pared on days of in­creased risk,” Dr Bone said.

The fore­casts are avail­able dur­ing Vic­to­ria’s grass pollen sea­son, typ­i­cally from Oc­to­ber through De­cem­ber, and can be ac­cessed via the VicEmer­gency app or on­line at emer­gency. vic.gov.au.

“The best way to pro­tect your­self from thun­der­storm asthma is through good man­age­ment of asthma and hay fever,” Dr Bone said.

Epi­demic thun­der­storm asthma is an un­com­mon phe­nom­e­non where a large num­ber of peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence asthma over a short pe­riod of time, thought to be trig­gered by high grass pollen lev­els and a cer­tain type of thun­der­storm.

“We want ev­ery­one – es­pe­cially peo­ple with asthma and hay fever – to be as pre­pared as they can all year round,” Dr Bone said.

It is rec­om­mended where pos­si­ble, peo­ple with asthma and hay fever should avoid ex­po­sure to spring­time thun­der­storms, and es­pe­cially the wind gusts that pre­cede them.

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