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News Releases from HeadquartersOffice of the Administrator (AO)

EPA: Learning Triggers Key to Preventing Asthma Attacks

Contact Information: 
Jennifer Colaizzi (colaizzi.jennifer@epa.gov)

May 5, 2015

EPA: Learning Triggers Key to Preventing Asthma Attacks
Baltimore, Memphis programs recognized as national models for asthma care during Asthma Awareness Month

WASHINGTON - One in 10 kids in America suffers from asthma, and communities of color and low-income families are disproportionately impacted. During Asthma Awareness Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes two leading asthma management programs -- Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) in Baltimore, Md. and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital CHAMPS Program in Memphis, Tenn. -- for comprehensive, in-home interventions and innovative asthma education to improve the lives of people with asthma in underserved communities.

"We can take steps to protect our families and control asthma by learning the triggers and creating an action plan," said U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "We know our public health is directly connected to our environment, and threats such as climate change are aggravating symptoms for communities across the country which is why we are taking important action through our Clean Power Plan and the Clean Air Act."

Asthma is a major public health issue, affecting nearly 23 million people and disproportionally affecting low-income and minority communities. The economic impact of asthma amounts to more than $56 billion per year from direct medical costs and indirect costs, such as missed school and work days.

Americans can take important steps to help control their asthma symptoms and maintain active lifestyles with three simple steps:

1. Identify and avoid environmental asthma triggers. Air pollution, dust mites, secondhand smoke, mold, pests, and pet dander can trigger asthma attacks. Work with your doctor to identify and avoid your personal asthma triggers, since asthma sufferers are affected differently.

2. Create an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan will help you monitor your asthma daily and will offer steps to reduce your exposure to your personal triggers through effective control strategies. Ask your doctor to assist you in creating an asthma action plan.

3. Pay attention to air quality. Exposure to ozone and particle pollution can cause asthma attacks. Check local air quality conditions at http://airnow.gov and download an Air Quality Index app for your smart phone.

In recent years, the agency has taken steps to address smog- and soot-forming pollution, toxic air emissions, and carbon pollution from power plants as well as emissions from on- and off-road diesel engines that will prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks. EPA expects the proposed Clean Power Plan's public health and climate benefits will help avoid up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children annually by 2030.

EPA is hosting a Twitter Chat today at 2 pm EDT with experts who can answer questions about asthma, common asthma triggers, and how to create an asthma action plan. To join the conversation, follow @CDCEnvironment and @EPAlive on Twitter and use the hashtag #Asthmachat2015 in your messages during the chat.

The agency's 2015 National Environmental Leadership Award winners in asthma management are:

Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) in Baltimore, Md. serves families of children with asthma with the highest hospitalization rates in Baltimore. GHHI collaborates with more than 35 federal, state, local, non-profit, and philanthropic partners to deliver comprehensive, in-home interventions.

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital CHAMPS Program in Memphis, Tenn. serves high-risk children with asthma, who are recipients of Tennessee's Medicaid Program. The CHAMPS program has developed a high-risk asthma registry and uses a team of community health workers, respiratory therapists, physicians and social workers to provide asthma education.

EPA is conducting a coordinated approach to promoting scientific understanding of environmental asthma triggers and comprehensive asthma management through research, education and community-focused outreach.

Learn more about asthma and environmental triggers and read about the 2015 National Environmental Leadership Award winners: http://www.epa.gov/asthma

For information on state and local community asthma awareness events throughout the month, visit AsthmaCommunityNetwork.org