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A Storm Hit, Then 800 People Couldn't Breathe

4 deaths blamed on 'thunderstorm asthma' in Australia

(Newser) - Four people are dead after an intense thunderstorm in Australia—but flooding or even lightning aren't to blame, reports the Age . In a rare case of "thunderstorm asthma," strong winds near Melbourne on Monday sent massive amounts of rye grass pollen into the air, making it difficult...

What the Dust in Your House Says About You

Our dust contains, on average, 9K unique species of microbes

(Newser) - Last year, volunteers mailed in dust samples taken from above interior and exterior door frames in 1,200 homes across the US as part of a citizen science project called Wild Life of Our Homes . Now, scientists are reporting in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B that our...

3.2K-Year-Old Mystery Undone by Pollen

Drought led to crisis in Bronze Age society: researchers

(Newser) - In the Late Bronze Age, a thriving society near present-day Tel Aviv and far beyond suddenly fell apart, and researchers have long been stumped as to the precise cause—until now. The explanation for the crisis lies in fossilized pollen, which remains stable for millennia and points the finger of...

Flowers Use Electricity to Talk With Bees

By changing charge, flowers keep away bees until nectar refilled, says study

(Newser) - "Say it with flowers," went the old advertising slogan, but who knew flowers were this talkative? It turns out flowers give off electrical signals that bees can pick up on, telling potential pollinators whether a flower has plenty of nectar or has recently been tapped, reports NPR . According...

Having Allergies Protects Against Cancer

The pollen that irks you could also be saving you

(Newser) - If pollen leaves you cursing your runny nose and itchy eyes each year, take solace in this upside: Allergy, asthma, and hay fever sufferers have significantly lower risks of developing many cancers. New studies show that asthmatics are 30% less likely to get ovarian cancer, while kids with airborne allergies...

Worst Pollen Year in a Long Time in US

(Newser) - Unusual weather this year, particularly a longer and colder than average winter in the Southeast, is causing record pollen levels throughout the US. The culprit is primarily tree pollen, particularly from oaks. The worst cities so far are: Knoxville, Tenn., followed by Louisville, Ky.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Dayton, Ohio; and Charlotte,...

Global Warming Changes Thoreau's Walden

27% of species have disappeared from Mass. pond author made famous

(Newser) - While living at Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau collected detailed data on the plant species native to Concord, Mass. Scientists studying climate change have compared those records to present-day biodiversity—and found chilling evidence of global warming’s effects, the Boston Globe reports. 27% of the species Thoreau documented are...

Mac's Illness Spotlights Sarcoidosis

Immune disorder could be behind comedian's hospitalization

(Newser) - Bernie Mac is in the hospital, and although his publicists deny it, the pneumonia for which the comedian's being treated may have something to do with sarcoidosis, the Chicago Tribune reports. The rare immune system disorder has been in remission since 2005.

Season Springs Forward as Climate Warms Up

Bees are buzzing, trees are flowering, and biologists are worrying

(Newser) - Today is officially the first day of spring, but spring has been gradually shifting into winter, the AP reports. Signs of spring—trees flowering, animals coming out of hibernation—are coming earlier every year. The shifting season has biologists seriously worried. "The alarm clock that all the plants and...

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