Friday, May 11, 2012

May – US Asthma Awareness Month

One of the success stories of America’s Clean Air Act is its reduction of asthma attacks by an estimated 1.7 million. Also preventing 130,000 heart attacks and 13 million lost work days this Act is one of the most results focused public health programs Americans have ever seen in their history.

Even during the current Administration measures have been taken to further reduce emissions of mercury, acid gas, particulate matter, arsenic and other harmful chemicals. Almost a year ago the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Cross State Air Pollution Rule which also ensured that countless Americans aren’t forced to breathe in contaminated air from other states.

Whilst the Act has helped millions of Americans to live with cleaner air there are still measures that can be taken to improve public health. The month of May symbolizes Asthma Awareness Month as a result the EPA is keen to raise awareness of asthma and encourage Americans take action against the disease and find out how far reaching it can be.

Education and awareness

Asthma affects almost 26 million Americans which includes 7 million children. Whilst there is no cure for the chronic respiratory disease it is manageable if the sufferer and their network of support are educated on asthma’s triggers. Attacks are also preventable as a consequence of this education and awareness.

The highest affected include low income and minority populations and whilst the EPA are working to improve air quality and cut down the environmental causes of the disease they also want to promote asthma awareness so those affected can help themselves too.

Costs and effects

The cost to economy of asthma is around $56 billion. This cost includes both direct medical costs from hospital admissions and visits as well as indirect costs like the amount of lost school and work days.
The EPA states that almost 13 million asthma sufferers report having an asthma attack in the last 12 months – this represents half of the amount of actual sufferers of the disease nationwide.

Of the minority groups EPA found that instances of asthma attacks are highest among Puerto Ricans. They also report that African Americans have higher volume of hospital visits, hospital stays and fatalities than Caucasians.

Measures to manage

On a positive note however the EPA believe that sufferers in America can learn to get their symptoms under control and still have a full and active lifestyle by taking on board some simple advice and measures. The four steps are valuable, common sense tips that could save lives and improve the quality of life for many more.

1) Understanding what triggers your asthma and avoiding it will prevent attacks. Environmental issues like dust mites, mold, secondhand smoke and air pollution can be triggers. Do everything you can to avoid them in your home and surroundings.

2) Taking each day at a time in managing your asthma is important. Seeking advice and developing an asthma action plan with your doctor will help you improve your environment to reduce triggers.

3) Having asthma doesn’t limit you in terms of activity – therefore still be active in your sports and other activities.
4) Local air quality impacts your asthma – asthma sufferers can check air quality conditions to help avoid risk at There is even an Air Quality Index mobile app available for smart phones.

Further advice

More information and advice can be found on the EPA’s website

Asthma Awareness Month helps raise awareness of asthma and how it can impact people’s lives. With more education and awareness the disease can be managed effectively and the steps identified here along with the further information on the EPA’s website will help improve the lives of many asthma sufferers. It is hoped too that by understanding the impact of the environment particularly in highest affected groups asthma attacks and hospitalization will reduce.

Holly Redfern is a freelance writer from England who focusses on the unknown dangers in the air we breathe. From her recent analysis of orgaic latex vs memory foam mattresses to the impact of the congestion zone in London her work has been well received in a number of well known environmental blogs and journals.

1 comment:

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