WASHINGTON -- Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing the start of Asthma Awareness Month and highlighting the agency’s efforts to improve air quality, protect public health, and take action to address climate change.
“One in ten kids in America today suffers from asthma, which disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income families,” said U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Today, we’re dealing with new threats like climate change that can worsen the problem. For these reasons and more, taking commonsense climate action is critical if we are serious about protecting public health.”
EPA promotes scientific understanding of environmental asthma triggers and management through research, education and community-focused outreach. As part of EPA’s ongoing effort to increase public awareness of asthma and partner with communities across the nation, the agency is also honoring three exceptional programs for improving the lives of people with asthma in underserved communities.
Multnomah County Health Department, Portland, OR
Peach State Health Plan, Atlanta, GA
Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA
Since 1990, air quality has improved significantly for ozone and particle pollution, along with lead, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. EPA, state, and local efforts to reduce emissions from cars, trucks, diesel engines, power plants and other industries all have contributed to the progress we’ve made to date. From 1990 to 2012, concentrations of common pollutants in the outdoor air have dropped by:
Carbon Monoxide – 75%
Ozone – 14%
Lead – 87%
Nitrogen Dioxide – 46%
Sulfur Dioxide – 72%
PM10 (coarse particles) – 39%
In 2010 alone, EPA achieved pollution reductions through the Clean Air Act that prevented more than an estimated 1.7 million asthma attacks.
Additionally, standards for Boilers and certain incinerators will prevent 42,000 asthma attacks per year, and EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will now help to prevent 130,000 asthma attacks per year.
In March 2014, EPA finalized cleaner fuel and car standards that will yield between $6.7 billion to $19 billion in benefits annually, through reducing health effects such as asthma attacks, premature deaths, heart attacks, and hospital and emergency room visits.
Under the President’s Climate Action Plan, EPA is working on a number of fronts to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources. Climate change can have a harmful effect on air quality. For example, scientists project that warmer temperatures from a changing climate will increase the frequency of days with unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone, a harmful air pollutant, and a component in smog. Ground-level ozone can damage lung tissue and can reduce lung function and inflame airways. This can increase respiratory symptoms and aggravate asthma or other lung diseases. It is especially harmful to children, older adults, outdoor workers, and those with asthma and other chronic lung diseases.
Download English and Spanish radio actualities from the Administrator’s video here: http://go.usa.gov/kAc3
Learn more about Asthma Awareness Month and the winners of the 2014 National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management: http://www.epa.gov/asthma