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Innovative Asthma Programs Improve Health

Release Date: 05/22/2006
Contact Information: Roxanne Smith, (202) 564-4355 /

(Washington, D.C. - May 22, 2006) Creating "safe sleeping zones" for kids and providing one-on-one consultations with pharmacists are some of the effective approaches that help improve the health and quality of life of asthma sufferers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is highlighting approaches like these with the National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management. IMPACT DC (Improving Pediatric Asthma Care in the District of Columbia) and Blue Cross of California, State Sponsored Business Unit (SSB) are this year's winners.

"These award winners combine innovation, imagination and compassion to improve the quality of life for asthma sufferers," said Bill Wehrum, EPA acting assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. "We can all take a deep breath and express our appreciation for IMPACT DC and Blue Cross of California."

Of the approximately 20 million Americans with asthma, more than six million are children. The disease remains one of the leading causes of emergency room visits and school absenteeism for children. Although there is no known cure for asthma, there are ways to reduce the number of attacks, including avoiding exposure to environmental asthma triggers at home, school, and other places where children spend their time.

With comprehensive asthma management for children, IMPACT DC, a program of the Children's Research Institute at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., reduces emergency room visits and decreases asthma severity. The program's unique approach uses the emergency department to identify and educate asthma patients, link them to primary care physicians or Medicaid managed care organizations and follows them to ensure they receive effective long-term care. The program also helps families avoid visits to the emergency room by reducing environmental triggers in the home by helping parents create a "safe sleeping zone" by making a child's bedroom free of dust mites, mold and other allergens, or irritants that might trigger asthma.

Blue Cross of California, SSB, a managed care system, demonstrates leading edge approaches to asthma care by providing multi-lingual pharmacist consultations, home visits to assess environmental risks for high risk members, and incentives for physicians who follow the program's guidelines. Blue Cross of California, SSB contributes to education and research efforts addressing air quality and its effect on asthma through a community-wide coalition that it founded.

May is Asthma Awareness month. EPA's recognition of the award winners will be held in conjunction with the first Communities in Action for Asthma-Friendly Environments National Forum. The forum will bring together 130 representatives from community-based asthma programs for a two-day workshop. Through interactive sessions, participants will learn from their peers about effective strategies and approaches to managing asthma triggers and improving the lives of people with asthma in their communities.

Read more about the 2006 National Environmental Leadership Awards in Asthma Management:

More information on asthma: