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Asthma Awareness Month Spotlights Air Quality

May 6, 2024

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes May as Asthma Awareness Month to raise national awareness of asthma and to highlight improvements in care and quality of life for people with asthma.

Asthma is a major public health issue that affects more than 25 million Americans, including four million children, and disproportionately affects certain racial and ethnic groups. The estimated economic impact of asthma is more than US$80 billion per year from direct and indirect costs, such as missed school and workdays.

“Growing up with respiratory challenges in North Carolina, I know all too well the struggle that millions of Americans suffer daily,” said Michael Regan, EPA administrator. “Asthma is a public health issue, an economic issue, and an environmental issue that impacts the entire country, especially low-income and minority communities. That’s why EPA is taking action to slash harmful pollution and raise awareness of the tools available for communities to manage asthma, control symptoms, and improve health.”

The EPA offered strategies for people with asthma:

  1. Identify and avoid indoor environmental asthma triggers. Dust mites, secondhand smoke, mold, pests, pet dander, and other allergens and contaminants in homes, schools, and other indoor spaces can trigger asthma attacks. Work with your health care provider to identify and avoid your personal indoor asthma triggers. 
  2. Pay attention to outdoor air quality. Ozone and particle pollution can cause or worsen asthma attacks, even indoors. Check local air quality conditions at AirNow.gov and download the EPA AirNow app for your phone. 
  3. Create a personalized asthma action plan. This will help you monitor your or your child’s asthma and take steps to reduce exposure to personal asthma triggers. Ask a health care provider to assist you in creating a plan. 

The EPA’s Asthma Awareness Month follows a report from Redfin that approximately 1.2 million homeowners and renters moved out of U.S. cities with high risk of poor air quality between 2021 and 2022. While all but one of the 100 cities with the world’s worst air pollution last year are in Asia, North America was greatly affected by Canadian wildfires last year. In turn, Canada passed the U.S. in regional pollution rankings for the first-time last year, CNN reported. Still, the most polluted U.S. city in 2023 was Columbus, Ohio, for the second consecutive year.

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