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  • Thunderstorms can worsen asthma and allergies
    Posted: 7/28/2014
    From The Washington Post:

    Allergy sufferers often wish for rain, hoping it will wash away all the pollens and molds that stuff up their noses. While rain can indeed provide relief, a violent thunderstorm may have just the opposite effect: An unlucky few may experience a little-known threat called thunderstorm-related asthma.

    Not fully understood by scientists, thunderstorm asthma can cause labored breathing for those with asthma and with allergies - including some who have never had breathing difficulties before.
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  • CDC reports annual financial cost of COPD to be $36 billion in the United States
    Posted: 7/25/2014
    From CHEST:

    The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) announced today the Online First publication of Total and State-Specific Medical and Absenteeism Costs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years in the United States for 2010 and Projections Through 2020 in the journal CHEST.

    The report, presented by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), finds:

    - In 2010, the total national medical costs attributable to COPD were estimated at $32.1 billion dollars annually.
    - Absenteeism costs were $3.9 billion for a total burden of $36 billion in COPD-attributable costs.
    An estimated 16.4 million days of work were lost due to COPD each year.
    - Of the medical cost, 18% was paid for by private insurance, 51% by Medicare, and 25% by Medicaid.
    - The study also projects a rise in medical costs from $32.1 billion in 2010 to $49 billion by 2020.
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  • Chicago mold spore count reported near 'dangerous' level
    Posted: 7/7/2014
    From Healio:

    The Gottlieb Allergy Count for mold spores neared the threshold for a "dangerous" air quality alert in Chicago earlier this week, according to a press release.

    "The extreme humidity coupled with hot temperatures and rain have created a soupy environment that is causing serious distress for those with mold allergies and asthma," Joseph Leija, MD, an allergist who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official count of the Midwest, said in the release. "It's like having a hot, wet towel over your face all the time for many with sensitive systems. Difficulty breathing, itchy throat, coughing and fatigue is what Chicagoans feel today and possibly for the rest of the week."
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  • Quitting snus after a heart attack halves death risk: study
    Posted: 7/1/2014
    From Reuters Health:

    Heart attack survivors who stop using snus, a Swedish smokeless tobacco, were half as likely to die in the next two years as those who didn't, according to a new study.

    The survival difference was comparable to that seen when smokers quit after a heart attack, suggesting that nicotine alone may harm the heart more than is recognized, researchers say.
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  • Asthma rate drops in survey; experts wary
    Posted: 6/24/2014
    From The Columbus Dispatch:

    The self-reported U.S. asthma rate has fallen significantly for the first time in four years, to a nine-year low, according to a survey released last week. Researchers cautioned that the number might not mean that the disease is dwindling.

    In 2013, 7.4 percent of the U.S. population reported having asthma, down from a level that has hovered around 8.5 percent since 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found.
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  • Smoking before becoming a father can damage future offspring
    Posted: 6/23/2014
    From Business Wire:

    A study by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) explains that men who smoke can cause genetic damage to their future children, even before conception.

    FASEB scientists report that men who smoke before conception can damage the genetic information of their offspring, making them more susceptible to diseases such as cancer. Adolescents and young adults should think ahead if they plan on conceiving at some point in their lives.
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  • Majority of Americans back Obama's push to reduce carbon emissions, poll shows
    Posted: 6/18/2014
    From Huffington Post:

    Two-thirds of Americans back President Barack Obama's push to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

    An NBC poll released Wednesday shows that 67 percent of Americans support Environmental Protection Agency rules released this month that will cut carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent by 2030. Thirty-seven percent expressed strong support.

    The poll shows that a majority of Americans identify as "supporters" of the new limits. Of those surveyed, 53 percent agree that action to reduce coal emissions in necessary, because it will lead to cleaner air and reduced health care costs, while confronting global warming and natural disasters.
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  • Cleveland Clinic tests promising new procedure for emphysema patients
    Posted: 6/16/2014
    From WOIO:

    The Cleveland Clinic has announced that they have an innovative new treatment for COPD/emphysema that is being tested as part of an extensive trial.

    This new procedures involves doctors putting coils into patients' lungs. The coils are said to be advantageous by sucking in the oversized lungs of emphysema patients and making it possible for them to breathe with more ease.

    Cleveland Clinic doctors say that there are a few patients that have done really well. Those patients have gone from being on oxygen 24/7 and barely able to talk without being out of breath to being able to spend time on the treadmill.
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  • Early exposure to bacteria protects children from asthma and allergies
    Posted: 6/10/2014
    From NPR Shots:

    Babies who are exposed to both bacteria and allergens in the first year of life are less likely to develop asthma and allergies, a study finds.

    It's the latest wrinkle in the hygiene hypothesis - the notion that exposure to bacteria trains the infant immune system to attack bad bugs and ignore harmless things like pollen and cat dander.

    But what's interesting about this study is that it gets specific; not just any old germs or allergens will do.
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  • EPA proposes first guidelines to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants
    Posted: 6/3/2014
    From the Environmental Protection Agency:

    At the direction of President Obama and after an unprecedented outreach effort, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is today releasing the Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Today?s proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.
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  • Developing a breath test for lung cancer
    Posted: 6/3/2014
    From The Engineer:

    Results of a University of Colorado Cancer Center study show that a test of organic compounds in exhaled breath can distinguish patients with lung cancer from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and also define the stage of any cancer present.

    "This could totally revolutionize lung cancer screening and diagnosis. The perspective here is the development of a non-traumatic, easy, cheap approach to early detection and differentiation of lung cancer," said Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and professor of medical oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
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  • Air pollution exposure in second trimester may increase asthma risk in children
    Posted: 5/20/2014
    From EurekAlert!

    Children who are exposed in utero to high levels of particulate air pollution during the second trimester of pregnancy may be at greater risk of developing asthma in early childhood, according to a new study presented at the 2014 American Thoracic Society International Conference.

    "We know that mothers' exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can affect lung development of their babies and lead to subsequent respiratory disorders, including asthma, although little is known about whether timing of the exposure is important to consider," said lead author Yueh-Hsiu Mathilda Chiu, ScD, from the Department of Pediatrics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. "In our study, we assessed whether higher exposure to particulate air pollution at more specific time windows in pregnancy were particularly linked to higher asthma risk in urban children."
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  • Why COPD patients should stay out of the heat
    Posted: 5/19/2014
    From Healthline News:

    Outdoor heat has been associated with increased mortality and increases in COPD hospitalizations, say researchers.

    People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may experience fewer symptoms and better overall health if they stay out of the heat this summer, according to a new study.

    Conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and presented at the 2014 American Thoracic Society International Conference, the study found that COPD patients exposed to warm indoor temperatures "had greater disease-related morbidity, including an increase in symptoms, a rise in the use of rescue medications, and a decline in lung function." Outdoor heat exposure was also associated with increased COPD symptoms, researchers said.
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  • MERS is serious but is not yet a global health emergency, WHO says
    Posted: 5/19/2014
    From Washington Post:

    Despite a rapid increase in cases of a deadly viral infection that emerged in the Middle East two years ago, the World Health Organization said the MERS outbreak is not yet a global health emergency.

    In a news conference Wednesday in Geneva, the agency said a special emergency committee of health and infectious-disease experts agreed that the situation has become increasingly serious and urgent. But because "there is not convincing evidence" that the disease has become more transmissible from person to person, the experts said, it does not yet meet the criteria for being declared a public health emergency of international concern, according to WHO spokesman Keiji Fukuda.
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  • What climate change means to Chicago
    Posted: 5/15/2014
    From Daily Herald:

    You may be asking yourself: Is Chicago in for another summer like the one we had in 2012? But that's the wrong question. The right question is whether or not the weather we had that summer is going to become the norm.

    Few will have forgotten that brutal heat, when a string of humid, hot days led to heat-related deaths and significant impacts of crop yields in Illinois. Back in 1995, Chicago experienced a tragic heat wave when 700 people lost their lives. With the long, cold, snowy winter of 2013-2014 fresh in our memory, it's easy to wonder if the climate is truly warming. It is. That is not a controversial conclusion among climate researchers. Climate, or average weather, is getting warmer globally and in Illinois. While we slogged through the past winter, parts of Europe, Asia, and South America experienced record heat, making March 2014 the world's fourth warmest on record. The 15 hottest years on record worldwide have occurred since 1998.
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