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THIS Could Help Prevent More Thunderstorm Asthma Deaths

A team of experts is desperately trying to determine whether asthma thunderstorm events, like the one linked to four deaths in Melbourne this week, can be predicted in the future. Developing an 'asthma thunderstorm forecast' is one idea that could save lives in the future. 

Government agencies, pollen scientists and the Bureau of Meteorology are meeting on Thursday to discuss Monday's unprecedented event, which overwhelmed emergency services and hospitals.

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Four people died of respiratory issues including Noble Park father-of-two Clarence Leo, 35-year-old Apollo Papadopoulos, law student Hope Carnevali, 20, and Year 12 student Omar Moujalled.

A number of other patients remain in intensive care. One person is in a critical condition.

The perfect storm event saw a high pollen count and thunderstorm conditions combine to produce tiny particles in the air that penetrated deep into people's airways, causing asthma to those who have the condition.

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The man who runs Melbourne's main pollen counting station thinks it's possible to develop an asthma thunderstorm forecast given useful data exists from previous events.

"We get those conditions of high grass pollen and thunderstorms quite regularly in Melbourne at this time of year but it's not every time that we get thunderstorm asthma," pollen expert Ed Newbigin from Melbourne University said.

"So there is another factor involved that we don't know (yet)."

Associate Professor Newbigin, who's attending Thursday's meeting, is convinced the state's various monitoring bodies can identify the missing ingredient.

But how reliable a forecasting model would be, and whether it could predict when an event would be as extreme as on Monday, is still unknown.

Have you been suffering from 'Thunderstorm Asthma' this week? Tell us your story in the comments section below. 

Source: Staff Writers / AAP

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