June, 2022

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Happy summer from the Lung Association, Manitoba!

Watch a special summer message from our CEO, Neil Johnston.

Twenty Twenty...too many allergies

It’s not just you. Pollen counts are up this year across the prairies, and so are the severity of symptoms for seasonal allergy sufferers.

Spring is often a challenge for the roughly 20% of Canadians who suffer from some sort of seasonal airborne allergy. But 2022 is proving extra difficult for many Manitobans, who are finding their allergy symptoms much more intense than normal.

📅 Why this year?

You may have heard from many sources (including us, last year) that climate change is leading to longer growth seasons and an overall increase in pollen. While this is true, this year is proving to be a particularly bad year thanks to a delay in the way trees reproduce.

This year’s flowering is driven by last year’s weather. "We had a drought and we also had an extreme heat event last summer. Both those things are really tough on plants," Helen Shook (a Master Gardener with a Prairie Horticulture Certificate from the University of Saskatchewan) recently told the CBC. In response, trees go into overdrive producing more seeds. Our cooler spring this year only exacerbated the issue, delaying shedding so more trees are releasing pollen at the same time.

🤧 Health effects

Increased pollen in the air can lead to itchy eyes, breathing difficulties, and trigger flare ups in people with asthma.

Pollen forecasts collect samples from local reporting stations and record the number of particles per cubic metre of air to determine the prevalence of various types of allergens. Individuals who are susceptible to pollen can use these values to measure the risk of allergy symptoms.

✅ What can you do?

Everyone who suffers from allergens should get regular medical care and follow their doctor’s orders for treatment and medications – but there are also some steps you can take now and in the future to make your world more allergy-friendly.

  • Today
  • Stay on top of your symptoms – make sure you have appropriate allergy medication on hand when you need it, and try to regularly clean your nose with a saline rinse. Visit the Lung Association, Manitoba homepage for the link to check the current air quality index for where you live and update your asthma action plan so you know what to do if your symptoms worsen.
Free download: My Asthma Action Plan
  • Clean it up – getting rid of allergens on your body is an important part of alleviating symptoms. Wash your hands and face when coming indoors, and shower regularly. Dust, vacuum and mop frequently, and wash bedding weekly with hot water to kill dust mites.

  • Shut it out - Make your home as allergy-proof as possible by shutting your windows (especially where you sleep), taking your shoes off at the door, and avoiding any indoor smoke.

  • Next year
  • Pinpoint your problems – Are you allergic to pollen? Dust mites? Mold? Pets? If you’re not sure, talk to your doctor so you can identify triggers and mitigate your exposure.

  • Allergy-proof your home – When it’s time to replace your household goods, opt for allergy-friendly options. Hard flooring collects less mold, dust and pet dander than carpeting. Hypoallergenic pillows, mattresses and furniture can also help minimize symptoms.

  • Beyond
  • Don’t be afraid to get dirty – In the long run, lack of exposure to microbes can affect the development of a healthy immune system. Early and frequent exposure to the outdoors (including all that immunity-boosting Vitamin D) decreases the risk of developing allergies later on.

  • Practice plant diversity – Male versions of plants don’t produce seeds, fruit or pods, making them popular choices for landscaping. But they do produce pollen, and without female plants to receive it pollen counts can soar. Planting both kinds of species in urban environments helps re-establish a natural balance.

The Lungs Matter Grant Program

Manitoba is a radon hotspot where 1 in 4 homes tested have high radon levels. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers; however, many families have reported not mitigating due to the cost. 

In 2021, in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society, Cancercare Manitoba, and the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (CARST) launched Lungs Matter. This new grant program will financially support Manitobans who have tested for radon and need mitigation services. 

This year we are thrilled to announce the companies that have joined us to support this program:

Silver Sponsor – Radonmatters

Mitigation Partners - Canadian Shield Radon, Pinchin Ltd., Polar Plumbing and Heating, Good Call Home Inspections Ltd., RGC Radon and Fantech.

Find out more

Welcome to our new board members

The Lung Association, Manitoba will be welcoming two new board members at this summer's AGM:

Jay Shaw is the Assistant Chief of Emergency Management and Public Information with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.  For over two years Jay has worked with a great team responding and leading the City of Winnipeg’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Jay has more than 24 years' experience in emergency services and health care, serving as an operational firefighter and paramedic for the Department of National Defense and since 2002, the City of Winnipeg as a firefighter paramedic. He has had a wide array of emergency response and health care experiences, working in hospital emergency rooms and rural Emergency Medical Services. Jay holds an MA in Disaster and Emergency Management studies and has numerous diplomas and certificates related to healthcare, emergency services, and disaster management. Jay graduated in 2020 from Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative studying Crisis Leadership and has been recently been selected into the International Association of Fire Chief’s Executive Development Institute. Current projects include a global view of new hazards such air quality, tornadic frequency, and building high performance teams through crisis leadership processes. 

Marin Brown is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants Manitoba who has worked in public practice for over 10 years. She works primarily with owner-managed businesses and not-for-profit organizations as well as Frist Nations groups and their related business entities.

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