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.

18th National Health Equity Research Webcast

The 18th National Health Equity Research Webcast (formerly known as the Annual Summer Public Health Research Videoconference on Minority Health) arrives in 4 weeks, with sought-after presenters and a distinguished moderator.

When? Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 1:30-4:00pm EDT

Where? Webcast or Tate-Turner-Kuralt building auditorium

Topic: "Social Determinants of Health Disparities: Moving the Nation to Care about Social Justice"

  • Camara P. Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Division of Epidemiologic and Analytic Methods for Population Health(p), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Ronny A. Bell, Ph.D., M.S., Professor, Wake Forest School of Medicine and Co-Director, Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity
  • Aida L. Giachello, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Moderator:Cedric M. Bright, M.D., F.A.C.P., Director, Office of Special Programs and Assistant Dean for Admissions, UNC School of Medicine and 112th President, National Medical Association
This free, interactive session will be broadcast with a live audience in the Tate-Turner-Kuralt auditorium at the UNC School of Social Work and can be viewed over the Internet (webcast). Questions will be taken from broadcast participants by email and toll-free telephone.

 More information

To register to view on your personal computer
To register for the studio audience at the TTK auditorium
Answers to frequently asked questions

Comments from last year's participants
The 18th National Health Equity Research Webcast is presented by the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Minority Health Project and UNC Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, in association with the UNC American Indian Center and Norfolk State University Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work, a partner in the Commonwealth Public Health Training Center. Major cosponsors to date include the UNC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. Please consider becoming a cosponsor or providing an endorsement!

Vic Schoenbach (
Director, Minority Health Project
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Cookie Newsom
Director of Diversity Education and Research
UNC Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs


* 24+ health disparities-related broadcasts and seminars are available as on-demand webcasts

Southeast Regional Environmental Justice Conference

When: August 16-17, 2012

Where: Atlanta Federal Center - Sam Nunn Bldg.
61 Forsyth Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303

Cost: FREE

Audience: communities, states, local businesses, colleges, and universities in GA, AL, MS, TN, KY, FL, SC, NC

Please save the date for the Southeast Regional Environmental Justice Conference, to be held in Atlanta, GA on August 16-17, 2012. This conference is essential for promoting environmental justice and equality in EPA Region 4. Registration and more details will be available soon.
  • Learn about tangible solutions to address environmental, social, and health Impacts associated with environmental pollution
  • Engage in networking opportunities with environmental justice leaders and organizations
  • Participate in various interactive workshops
  • Participate in student poster session: Submission deadline, June 1, 2012 at
For more information, contact Sheryl Good (, (404) 562-9559

Monday, May 7, 2012

EPA Environmental Justice Community Outreach Call

May 16, 2012 at 6 p.m. ET

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice one of EPA's top priorities. In support of this priority, EPA invites environmental justice advocates to participate on their next Environmental Justice Community Outreach Call, which will take place on May 16, 2012 at 6 p.m. ET.

The purpose of these calls is to provide information to participants about the Agency's EJ activities and maintain an open dialogue with EJ advocates. As EPA continues to advance Plan EJ 2014, the Agency hopes that these calls will better inform the public about EPA's EJ work and enhance opportunities to take advantage of federal activities. Listen to, or read about, previous calls.

EPA is  taking suggestions on agenda topics for the upcoming call. After receiving your suggestions, EPA will select the topic(s) that are of general concern to communities. Please keep in mind that the call will only last one hour, so the number of topics discussed will be limited.
Submit a topic.

For more information about the Administrator's priorities.

For more information about Plan EJ 2014.

New Blog Post on Green Zones

Environmental Justice in Action is featuring blog information about Green Zones. It was written by a member of the organization California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), which defines Green Zones as, "a comprehensive approach to transforming communities overburdened with environmental hazards and lacking economic opportunity into healthy, thriving neighborhoods."

Read about how CEJA members are applying this idea across California.

They are looking for your comments. Tell them if this is an idea that could work in your community or if you or organizations you're working with are trying similar approaches.

To receive updates on their newest blogs, subscribe.