EPA Works to Help the Nearly 26 Million Americans with Asthma

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging Americans to take action against asthma by learning more about the disease and how it affects their families and communities. Nearly 26 million Americans, including more than 7 million children, are affected by this chronic respiratory disease, including low income and minority populations at the highest rates.

"Asthma is a disease that touches the lives of American families every day. EPA is working hard to clean the air we breathe and reduce the environmental causes of asthma and other respiratory illnesses,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “As we mark Asthma Awareness Month, it’s important for parents and children to learn more about the disease and its triggers, so we can prevent asthma attacks and better protect our health and our children's health."

The annual economic cost of asthma, including direct medical costs from hospital stays and indirect costs such as lost school and work days, amount to approximately $56 billion. Through the Clean Air Act, EPA has helped prevent millions of asthma attacks across the country and continues to work alongside federal, state and local partners to address this nationwide problem. In 2010 alone, pollution prevention standards under the Clean Air Act lead to reductions in fine particle matter and ozone pollution that prevented more than 1.7 million incidences of asthma attacks. Recent standards, such as the 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, will further reduce air pollution and help prevent asthma attacks.

Americans who suffer from asthma can learn to control their symptoms and still maintain active lifestyles. Here are some simple steps:

Know your Asthma Triggers and Avoid Them: Air pollution, dust mites, mold, secondhand smoke and even cockroaches can trigger asthma attacks. Learn your triggers and avoid them in your home and neighborhood.

Create an Asthma Action Plan: You can help avoid the emergency room by managing your asthma daily. With a doctor's help, you can create an asthma action plan to help you effectively manage your asthma and reduce exposure to triggers.

Get Active: Even if you have asthma, by taking the appropriate medications and avoiding your triggers, you can still participate in sports and activities.

Be 'Air Aware': Check local air quality conditions at airnow.gov and make informed decisions about participating in outdoor activities. To help, an Air Quality Index mobile app is available for smart phones.

As part of Asthma Awareness Month, EPA is honoring exceptional health plans, health care providers and communities in action for their efforts to improve the lives of people with asthma in underserved communities across the country. The winners of the 2012 National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management include Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford, Conn., L.A. Care Health Plan, Los Angeles, Calif., Michigan Department of Community Health’s Asthma Prevention and Control Program, Lansing, Mich., and Mission Health, Asheville, N.C.

More on Asthma and the 2012 award winners: http://www.epa.gov/asthma

More on the Air Quality Index Mobile App: http://m.epa.gov/apps/airnow.html