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Article

Evaluating the Risk of Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma: Lessons from Australia

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Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, 1 Liverpool St, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia
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Public Health Services, Department of Health (Tasmania), 25 Argyle St, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia
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Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 727, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
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Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, 20 Castray Esplanade, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia
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School of Engineering, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 65, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde, James Weir Building, 75 Montrose Street, Glasgow G1 1XJ, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 837; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050837
Received: 16 January 2019 / Revised: 27 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
Epidemic thunderstorm asthma (ETA) is an emerging public health threat in Australia, highlighted by the 2016 event in Melbourne, Victoria, that overwhelmed health services and caused loss of life. However, there is limited understanding of the regional variations in risk. We evaluated the public health risk of ETA in the nearby state of Tasmania by quantifying the frequency of potential ETA episodes and applying a standardized natural disaster risk assessment framework. Using a case–control approach, we analyzed emergency presentations in Tasmania’s public hospitals from 2002 to 2017. Cases were defined as days when asthma presentations exceeded four standard deviations from the mean, and controls as days when asthma presentations were less than one standard deviation from the mean. Four controls were randomly selected for each case. Independently, a meteorologist identified the dates of potential high-risk thunderstorm events. No case days coincided with thunderstorms during the study period. ETA was assessed as a very low risk to the Tasmanian population, with these findings informing risk prioritization and resource allocation. This approach may be scaled and applied in other settings to determine local ETA risk. Furthermore, the identification of hazards using this method allows for critical analysis of existing public health systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: asthma; thunderstorm; public health; risk; hazard asthma; thunderstorm; public health; risk; hazard
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MDPI and ACS Style

Campbell, S.L.; Fox-Hughes, P.D.; Jones, P.J.; Remenyi, T.A.; Chappell, K.; White, C.J.; Johnston, F.H. Evaluating the Risk of Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma: Lessons from Australia. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 837. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050837

AMA Style

Campbell SL, Fox-Hughes PD, Jones PJ, Remenyi TA, Chappell K, White CJ, Johnston FH. Evaluating the Risk of Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma: Lessons from Australia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019; 16(5):837. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050837

Chicago/Turabian Style

Campbell, Sharon L., Paul D. Fox-Hughes, Penelope J. Jones, Tomas A. Remenyi, Kate Chappell, Christopher J. White, and Fay H. Johnston 2019. "Evaluating the Risk of Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma: Lessons from Australia" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16, no. 5: 837. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050837

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