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In Recognition of Asthma Awareness, EPA Becomes First Federal Building to Fly Air Quality Flag

CONTACT: Jason McDonald, 404-562-9203 (desk), 404-562-8400 (main), mcdonald.jason@epa.gov

(ATLANTA) – Asthma is a major public health issue, affecting nearly 24 million people and disproportionately affecting low-income and minority communities. Although there is no cure for asthma yet, asthma can be controlled through medical treatment and management of environmental triggers. In recognition of Asthma Awareness Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Atlanta became the first federal building to fly the Air Quality Flag in recognition of Asthma Awareness Month.

The Air Quality Flag Program alerts organizations to the local air quality forecast and helps them to take actions to protect people’s health, including those with asthma. Each day, a flag will be raised based on the color of the Air Quality Index (AQI) to show how polluted the air is expected to be.  By comparing the colored flags to the AQI, everyone who sees the flags will know what actions to take to protect their health. 

“We know our indoor and outdoor air directly impacts the health, wealth and well-being of our communities,” said Heather McTeer Toney, EPA Southeast Regional Administrator.  “It is why EPA is committed to raising awareness in the southeast where three of our cities rank in the top five capital cities for asthma and allergies.”

Throughout the month of May, EPA will promote, participate, and conduct activities in support of asthma awareness and management. Beginning with Asthma Awareness Week, a special theme will highlight each successive week to highlight the important links between air quality and human health.  The theme for Asthma Awareness Week is Show How You Care about the Air.

Monday, May 2                 Asthma Awareness Week Highlighting State and Local Events

Tuesday, May 3                 Asthma and Air Quality (World Asthma Day and announcement of Asthma Management Award Winners)

Wednesday, May 4           Air Quality Around the World

Thursday, May 5               Air Quality Trends

Friday, May 6                    Citizen Science

EPA will be visiting schools and health fairs in the southeast to provide more information on the importance of air quality. On May 17-18, 2016, EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Georgia Department of Public Health will host the Southeast Regional Asthma Summit and the Healthy Homes Environmental Exposures Symposium at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center regional headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Asthma is a respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult.  The economic impacts of asthma amount to more than $50 billion per year from direct and indirect costs, such as medical bills and missed school and work days. EPA’s comprehensive asthma program helps those with asthma through environmental research and education, as well as through community-focused outreach that aims to increase sustainable access to home visits. 

Asthma sufferers can take some important actions to help control their symptoms and still maintain active lifestyles with three simple steps: Identify and avoid environmental asthma triggers; create an Asthma Action Plan with help from your doctor; and pay attention to your local air quality conditions through the http://airnow.gov website and Air Quality Index app for your smart phone. 

To learn more about preventing asthma attacks, go to www.epa.gov/asthma

Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion4

And on Twitter: @EPASoutheast   #careforyourair