by Julie Fidler, Natural Society:
Two people have died in Melbourne, Australia, from “thunderstorm asthma,” a rare phenomenon which occurred following a storm that struck the city on November 21. 
The 2 fatalities included an 18-year-old girl who was just days away from her high school graduation, and a female law student who died on her front lawn while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
Thousands of people phoned for help with breathing problems, stretching hospitals and paramedics to their limits. One senior health official described the event as a “state disaster.”
The whole thing could have been predicted by authorities, according to associate professor Cenk Suphioglu, an environmental allergist from Deakin University, who first coined the phrase “thunderstorm asthma.” Suphioglu said the outbreak was caused by a “perfect storm” of asthma-triggering conditions. He explained:
“We’ve had a lot of rain, which means there’s a lot of grass, which means there’s a lot of pollen.”
It is currently springtime in Australia.
Suphioglu said the rain broke up the pollen, releasing an abnormally high concentration of microscopic particles into the wind, which easily made it into the airways and lungs of the people affected. Conditions were so extreme that even people who had never been affected before experienced difficulty breathing.
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