Cigarette Butts Still Polluting Our Highways

While resting in our caravan at Winton on a sultry outback day, the stench of tobacco smoke came wafting through the open window. Going outside to investigate, I found neighbours on either side, sitting outside their vans, puffing away. I have found, over long periods suffering from respiratory problems, that I am incredibly allergic to cigarette smoke. For years now when anyone rummages in their bag and asks do I mind, I say, yes, I…

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Asthma and Australian Dust Storms

As a kid growing up in the North Island of New Zealand, I don’t recall ever seeing dust storms of the type seen in the Australian outback. In recent weeks, we’ve seen clouds of ochre dust blowing in from South Australia. The worst dust storms converge on the eastern seaboard, shrouding cities in an eerie, fog-like miasma. You may recall the really bad one (September 2009) when motorists in Sydney and Brisbane drove with their…

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The scary truth about the paralysis tick

It is sometimes difficult to separate the facts about the paralysis tick from the myths and home-grown remedies suggested by well-meaning folks. You may have heard some of the suggestions on how to combat the tiny, toxic parasite that can kill dogs, cats and humans. The home-spun remedies include (for removal) kerosene, a hot needle, a hot match, Vaseline or methylated spirits. No, you need to first kill the tick, by freezing it or using…

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What rhymes with rhinitis

The proper term for what ails 4.6 million Australians is ‘seasonal allergic rhinitis,’ more commonly known as hay fever. The latter name has stuck, even though scientists have known that grass pollen was the key culprit since the late 1800s. I surely don’t have to tell you this is one of the worst springs on record for seasonal allergies. But I will. If you live in Melbourne and suffer from asthma and seasonal allergies, this…

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