Tag Archives: air pollution

China is leading the way on climate change, and the U.S. should be ashamed

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Rosalie’s kitchen table this a.m.: More corn please! pic:R.T.

By Jennifer Bates

China will soon surpass the U.S. to become the world’s largest economy.

And now it is poised to overtake this country by yet another metric: environmental protection.

In an unexpected development, China – known for its choking urban pollution and notorious Three Gorges Dam – has introduced new dietary guidelines that seek to cut its meat consumption in half.

If this sounds familiar, it might be because you remember similar guidelines proposed in the U.S. in 2015 — which were promptly rejected by officials on the grounds that dietary guidelines aren’t an “appropriate vehicle” for addressing sustainability concerns.

But what we eat is directly tied to the environment, and large-scale animal agriculture is destroying our planet. You probably know that this industry spews climate-changing greenhouse gases into the air, but animal agriculture’s adverse effects don’t end there. Because the industry relies on water-intensive crops and uses enormous amounts of water to clean out filthy enclosures, provide animals with drinking water and more, the average meat-eater indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day more than someone who just eats plant-based foods.

One pig produces as much fecal matter as 10 humans, and that waste has to go somewhere. Often, the toxic stew finds its way into our rivers and oceans, poisoning aquatic life. Meanwhile, countless acres of rainforest are cut down every day to create more grazing lands or to plant crops intended solely to feed farmed animals.

This industry is also hell on the animals raised for human consumption, who are violently abused and traumatized from birth to death. Male pigs and cattle are castrated without painkillers. Farmed fish are kept in crowded, filthy enclosures full of their own waste. And each year, nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys are still alive and conscious when they’re immersed in the scalding-hot water of feather-removal tanks.

The average Chinese citizen consumes about 128 pounds of animal flesh each year. But the average American? Two hundred and sixty-four pounds, more than twice the amount of our Eastern competitors.

By cutting its meat consumption, China will spare billions of sentient beings a terrifying death. Cutting back on meat will also be a tremendous boon to public health, because it will reduce not only air pollution but also diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. China seems to understand what the U.S. refuses to acknowledge — that the health of our planet and the health of our citizens are irrevocably linked.

Fifteen years ago, the U.S. dropped out of the Kyoto Protocol — the world’s first concerted effort to tackle climate change — with the argument that it was unfair to expect Western nations to curb emissions while exempting China. But now that China has fully signed on to the new Paris Agreement and has taken this important first step toward reducing its meat consumption, what’s holding back the U.S.?

It is a travesty that China acts while we sit on the sidelines refusing to address the most pressing issue of our time. Rather than bickering over “appropriate vehicles” while the planet melts and burns around us, we must respond. The only way to reclaim our status as world leader is by going beyond China’s measures.

First, the U.S. should drop federal subsidies for the animal-agriculture industry in favor of subsidies for plant-based foods. Next, we must lead on the development of in vitro meat, which generates 96 percent fewer greenhouse-gas emissions and whose production requires up to 99 percent less land, 96 percent less water and 45 percent less energy than “traditional” meat. Finally, we must all do our part as Americans by curbing our crippling addiction to animal flesh.

Go vegan, and the health of our environment — not to mention our status as a world leader — will follow.

Worcester County gets an A!!! in American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report 2014. Report shows less particle pollution but more ozone in Mass.

American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report 2014 Shows Less Particle Pollution but more Ozone in Massachusetts

Five Massachusetts’ counties receive failing grades for ozone

(Trend charts and rankings for metropolitan areas and county grades are available at www.stateoftheair.org.)

(Worcester County improved its grade for ozone from an F to a D, with 7 orange days, 3 fewer than in 2013. An orange day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. The county is among the cleanest in the Northeast for particle pollution, maintaining its A grade.)

Waltham — The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2014” report released today shows that all eight counties in Massachusetts with particle pollution monitors cut year-round particle pollution (soot) levels compared to the 2013 report and the Boston metro area had its lowest year-round levels of particle pollution to date. This is in keeping with a trend seen across the nation of lower particle pollution levels. No county with a particle pollution monitor had more days when short-term particle pollution reached unhealthy levels. At the same time, five Massachusetts counties experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone (smog) while six experienced fewer days. And while the Boston metro area’s ranking on the list of most polluted cities for ozone improved from 68th in 2013 to tied for 69th in 2014, actual ozone levels worsened.

“With the Northeast and Massachusetts being the tailpipe of the nation, it’s not surprising that the grades we’re seeing for ozone remain a mixed bag,” said Casey Harvell, Massachusetts Director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “While we applaud the efforts the federal and state governments have made to protect the health of our air so far, our job is far from done. We need to see continued efforts and innovative policies particularly during budget season, to lessen the burden of unhealthy air on our most vulnerable populations, including children with asthma.”

“I’m pleased to see that Massachusetts continues to make progress to improve air quality, but this State of the Air report shows there is still much to be done to combat the hazardous effects of climate change,” said Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture as well as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “Climate change impacts the environment and our public health, but it also poses grave threats to our economy, our public safety and our national security. We must accept the reality of global climate change and do everything we can to limit air pollution to protect our planet and our posterity.”

Of the 12 Massachusetts’ counties with air pollution monitors, three –Berkshire, Hampden and Worcester – improved one letter grade for ozone pollution. Four counties, Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes and Hampshire received an F for ozone pollution. While there are the same number of F’s in the 2014 report as in 2013, Barnstable was added to the list after worsening ozone caused its grade to drop. At the same time, reduced ozone levels caused Worcester’s grade to improve moving it off the list of failing counties for ozone.

Ozone (smog) is the most widespread air pollutant, created by the reaction of sunlight on emissions from vehicles and other sources. When ozone is inhaled, it irritates the lungs, almost like bad sunburn. It can cause immediate health problems that continue days later. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and premature death.

Massachusetts’ counties received all A’s and B’s for short-term particle pollution (soot), which comes from car exhaust and coal-burning power plants. This microscopic dust can get trapped in the lungs or pass into the blood stream, increasing the risk of heart disease and lung cancer, and triggering asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Worcester and Plymouth counties again received A’s for short-term particle pollution and were among the cleanest counties in the Northeast for the pollutant. Every county with a monitor saw its levels of annual particle pollution improve.

Particle pollution, called fine particulate matter or PM 2.5, is a deadly cocktail of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols that can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end. The body’s natural defenses, coughing and sneezing, fail to keep these microscopic particles from burrowing deep within the lungs, triggering serious problems such as asthma and heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and even early death. Much like ozone pollution is likened to sunburn on the lungs, exposure to particle pollution has been compared to rubbing sandpaper on the lungs.

“While we can celebrate the continued reduction of year-round particle pollution in Massachusetts, much of the Northeast and the nation thanks to cleaner diesel fleets and cleaner power plants it’s clear that we’re going to need to do even more to reduce ozone pollution which is a tremendous health threat to all of us but especially to people with lung disease,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association. “Warmer temperatures create a breeding ground for ozone pollution and climate change will make it even more challenging to protect human health. We call on Congress to not only uphold the Clean Air Act, but to ensure that the EPA and states have adequate funding to monitor and protect the public from air pollution. We simply can’t ignore the new threats that rising temperatures present.”

State of the Air 2014 report found that more than more than 147 million people – more than half of all Americans- live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution. Safeguards are necessary to protect the health of the millions of people living in counties with dangerous levels of either ozone or particle pollution that can cause wheezing and coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death. Those at greatest risk from air pollution include infants, children, older adults, anyone with lung diseases like asthma, people with heart disease or diabetes, people with low incomes and anyone who works or exercises outdoors.

The American Lung Association calls for several steps to improve the air everyone breathes:

Clean up power plants. The EPA needs to reduce carbon pollution. Ozone and particle pollution that blows across state lines must be controlled. In the next year, the Administration has pledged to set standards for carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.
Strengthen the outdated ozone standards. The EPA needs to set a strong, health-based standard to limit ozone pollution. Strong standards will drive the needed cleanup of ozone across the nation.
Clean up new wood-burning devices. The EPA needs to issue strong standards to clean up new wood stoves, outdoor wood boilers and other residential wood-burning devices.
Fund the work to provide healthy air. Congress needs to adequately fund the work of the EPA and the states to monitor and protect the nation from air pollution.
Protect the Clean Air Act. Congress needs to ensure that the protections under the Clean Air Act remain strong and enforced.

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2014 report is an annual, national air quality “report card.” The 2014 report—the 15th annual release—uses the most recent quality assured air pollution data, compiled by the EPA, in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Data comes from the official monitors for the two most widespread types of pollution, ozone (smog) and particle pollution (PM 2.5, also known as soot). The report grades counties and ranks cities and counties based on their scores for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution levels.

The American Lung Association of the Northeast urges the public to join the fight for clean air and to learn how to protect themselves and their families from air pollution by visiting www.stateoftheair.org. To learn more about air quality in Massachusetts, visit us online at www.lungne.org and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LungNE and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LungNE.

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About the American Lung Association of the Northeast
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT. www.LungNE.org

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Significant findings from the report for Massachusetts by region include:

Central/Western MA (see above)

Berkshire County improved its grade for ozone from a C to a B with 2 unhealthy orange days
(2 less than in 2013). An orange ozone day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. Berkshire has the lowest ozone level in the Bay State. Berkshire does not have a particle pollution monitor.

Hampden County improved its grade for ozone from a D to a C, with six unhealthy orange days (two less than in 2013) An orange ozone day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. Hampden showed no improvement in short-term particle pollution and once again received a B.

Hampshire County again received an F for ozone pollution with 11 orange ozone days, one more than in 2013. An orange ozone day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. Additionally, the Springfield-Greenfield Town metro area ranked 81st most polluted for ozone and tied for 96th most polluted for short-term particle pollution. The metro ranked tied for 126th most polluted for annual particle pollution.

Worcester County improved its grade for ozone from an F to a D, with 7 orange days, 3 fewer than in 2013. An orange day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. The county is among the cleanest in the Northeast for particle pollution, maintaining its A grade.

There are no air pollution monitors in Franklin County.

Southeast, Cape & the Islands

Barnstable County’s grade for ozone dropped from a C to an F with 10 orange days, 4 more than in 2013. An orange day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. The county does not have a particle pollution monitor.

Bristol County’s grade for ozone remained at an F, with 15 orange days, 5 more than in 2013. An orange day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. The county again earned an A for particle pollution, with no days of unhealthy levels of the pollutant.

Dukes County remained at an F for ozone pollution and again had the most dangerous ozone level statewide. Dukes also had the biggest increase in the number of unhealthy ozone days in the Bay State compared with 2013. Dukes experienced 16 orange days, 7 more than in 2013 and 3 red days, one more than in 2013. An orange day means the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. A red day indicates that everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects from the air pollution and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects. Dukes County does not have a particle pollution monitor.

Plymouth County does not have an ozone pollution monitor. It again earned an A for short-term particle pollution and a place on the list of the cleanest counties for the pollutant.

There are no air pollution monitors in Nantucket.

Greater Boston Metro Area

Essex County dropped from a C to a D for ozone pollution. It had 7 orange days, one more than in 2013. An orange day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. The county also received an A for particle pollution and once again earned a spot on the list of cleanest counties in the Northeast for short-term particle pollution.

Middlesex County maintained its C grade for ozone although it experienced 3 orange days, two less than in 2013. An orange day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. Middlesex has among the lowest levels of short-term particle pollution in Massachusetts.

Suffolk County remained at a C for ozone although the county had three orange days in this year’s report, two less than in 2013. Suffolk also maintained its B grade for short-term particle pollution, experiencing one orange day and one red day, the same as in 2013. Suffolk has the worst level of both short-term and annual particle pollution in the Bay State.

Norfolk County’s grade for ozone remained a C. It had 5 orange days, one less than in 2013. An orange day means the air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children and the elderly. The county does not have a particle pollution monitor.

Rx for traffic pollution: cleaner gasoline and vehicles

 

By Patricia W. Finn, MD, President, American Thoracic Society and Albert A. Rizzo, MD, FCCP, FACP

As pulmonary physicians, we see patients every day who struggle to breathe. Those experiences lead us to not only treat, but to advocate for our patients with lung disease.  We also speak up for the millions of infants, children, teenagers and seniors who face threats from the air they breathe.

That’s why we are so concerned about the health problems caused by air pollution – and why the organizations we represent, the American Lung Association and the American Thoracic Society, believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must move forward as quickly as possible with new standards to clean up smog-causing gasoline and motor vehicles.

Ground level ozone, or smog, that blankets much of the United States during the summer is a powerful respiratory irritant. When inhaled, ozone damages the lung tissue much like the summer sun burns unprotected skin. Ozone air pollution poses health risks for all who are exposed, including infants, children teenagers, adults and seniors, and it is particularly harmful to the nearly 26 million living with asthma, nearly 13 million with COPD and the millions with other lung diseases. Just as importantly, even healthy adults who work or play outdoors are at risk.

For those living near highways or other heavily used roads, the problem may be worse. Growing research reports much higher levels of pollution there.  Many people who live near roadways have lower incomes, and often are at higher risk of having lung diseases.

Tragically, polluted air can shorten life. For hundreds of thousands of people, polluted air means coughing, wheezing, missed school and missed work, asthma attacks and heart attacks. Far too many end up in the emergency room or the hospital.  These are the patients that physicians like us see daily in the hospital and in our practices.

If we could simply write a prescription to clean up that pollution and help our patients, we’d give the White House and EPA one each that says: “Adopt Tier 3 STAT.” Tier 3 is the shortened name of new EPA standards to reduce the sulfur in gasoline and reduce emissions from new cars and SUVs. The White House is in the final stages of reviewing these standards.

Lower-sulfur gasoline would immediately make every car on the road run cleaner because sulfur poisons the performance of a car’s pollution control system. Less sulfur means less pollution, and by 2030, we’d have up to 15,000 fewer asthma attacks, more than 3 million fewer missed school and work days, and 2,500 fewer early deaths each year, as the American Lung Association estimated in a report last year.

Unlike the cost of taking a child to the ER, the cost to protect her health is pretty low. EPA says that the cleaner gasoline would cost less than one penny more per gallon.

As with many treatments, timing is critical. EPA needs to adopt these standards by the end of February to make sure we get all the benefits as soon as possible. If not, our patients and millions more remain exposed to yet another year of dangerous pollution. Remember, that can mean the loss of 2,500 lives.

For the sake of our patients and all those who live where the air threatens their health, we urge President Obama to direct EPA to adopt final standards by the end of this month so that we have cleaner, healthier air to breathe.

Protecting public health by reducing climate change

 

BOSTON – The American Lung Association of the Northeast hosted a roundtable discussion today on climate change and its impact on health. Experts in the fields of medicine, state government, public policy and public health gathered at Harvard Medical School to express their concerns about rising temperatures and pollution rates resulting from climate change and its consequences on lung and heart health. Diane Pickles, Vice President of M+R Strategies who consults with the Lung Association on their Healthy Air Campaign, served as moderator.

Scientists warn that the buildup of carbon pollution will create warmer temperatures, which will increase the risk of unhealthful smog (ozone) levels. This is particularly harmful to those who suffer with chronic respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD. According to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2013 report, nearly a third of Massachusetts residents currently live in areas of failing or near-failing air quality.

“Air pollution is particularly dangerous for children, whose lungs are still growing, and the elderly, who endure more chronic health problems,” said Edward Miller, Senior Vice President of Policy for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Climate change only makes the situation worse, by amplifying the amount of pollution we are forced to breathe.”

“The protection of our environment is not just a matter of conserving resources for the future, it is about making our economy stronger by growing clean energy jobs and promoting public health for all Massachusetts citizens,” said Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, and Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “In Massachusetts, with laws such as the Global Warming Solutions Act, we are acting on our responsibility to cut down greenhouse gas emissions for the safety of citizens today and for generations to come. Moving away from a fossil fuel economy will protect the environment, improve our public health, and support a vibrant clean energy economy in Massachusetts.”

“Patients with asthma and COPD are particularly sensitive to changes in weather, and one of the major consequences of climate change has been an increase in days with extreme heat,” said Dr. Mary Rice, a Pulmonary & Critical Care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and research fellow in air pollution and lung disease at Harvard Medical School. “Acute rises in temperature and humidity are associated with increased emergency room visits for asthma, especially in children, and increased mortality for people with COPD. Climate models predict that in the coming decades, extreme heat events are likely to become still more frequent.”

In addition to serving as event moderator, Pickles shared her personal story about managing her son’s asthma. “It is terrifying to watch your child struggle with an asthma attack. For kids like mine, poor air quality days threaten health and significantly impact quality of life,” she said. Nearly one in ten children in Massachusetts suffers from asthma.

The goal of the Climate Health Roundtable discussion was to heighten awareness to the impact of climate change on health and to discuss educational and public policy solutions for reducing its effects on the Commonwealth.

InCity Voices: Protecting against childhood asthma by limiting carbon emissions

By Sean Palfrey, MD

Every time 8-year-old Mia leaves the house to play outside with friends, her mother, Rachael, worries that her daughter might suffer a serious asthma attack. Although she knows it would be unfair and unhealthy to keep Mia trapped inside every day after school or prevent her from participating in sleepovers and school field trips, it is sometimes hard for Rachael to let go of the memory of Mia’s early years.

Mia, like an ever-increasing number of Massachusetts children, has had to endure more than her fair share of severe asthma attacks. During one attack, she coughed so hard that she burst blood vessels in her eyes. Although these attacks are somewhat less frequent now, countless visits to the emergency room hardened her family to the harsh realities of raising a child with asthma, which can be deadly at worst and terrifying at best.

Because air pollution can be a recipe for disaster for Mia, Rachael continues to be vigilant about checking air quality forecasts and has often changed her family’s plans if an unhealthy air quality day is on the horizon. On days when the air quality is going to enter the code orange or red zones, Rachael knows it’s safer to keep Mia indoors than to risk her having an acute asthma attack.

One in ten people in the Bay State suffer with asthma, which is higher than the national average. We are seeing and treating an increasing number of children like Mia whose lives could be so much safer, happier and more successful if only we could only write a prescription for healthy air.

While those of us in the medical community do not have the power to write such a prescription, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does. Much to its credit, the EPA has finally taken necessary steps to clean up the most prolific stationary source of air pollution in this country—coal-fired power plants. No other industry produces more carbon pollution, and as temperature trends continue to rise, the dangers of carbon pollution increase exponentially because of this simple equation: heat plus carbon pollution equals smog.

Nearly a third of our state’s residents live in failing or near-failing air quality zones, according to the American Lung Association’s 2013 State of the Air report. Massachusetts is not only threatened by pollution from its own coal-fired power plants but from other downwind sources that grant us the loathsome distinction of being know as America’s “tailpipe”. It’s no wonder Rachael has struggled at times to keep Mia’s asthma attacks at bay. No matter how aggressive Massachusetts healthy air laws are, our children and adults will continue to suffer until a national solution is established.

The EPA’s current proposal applies to all new coal-fired power plants, but should also stimulate technological advances that could one day dramatically reduce pollution from our nation’s expansive fleet of power plants. As a country that prides itself on ambitious innovation, we certainly have the ability to make clean energy and healthy air a reality for our children’s and for all future generations, if and when we have the will.

The truth is, we can’t afford not to. Pollution from coal-fired power plants alone costs hard working people, including the Murphy family, tens of millions of dollars every year in health care expenses from hospital bills to costly co-pays. Taxpayers also shoulder the burden of these increases health care costs.

The bottom line is that air pollution kills and makes healthy living difficult for many. Dirty air not only triggers childhood asthma attacks, but is also known to cause the cancers, strokes and heart attacks that take from us those closest to us and most vulnerable—older adults and people with chronic lung and heart disease.

Shouldn’t we be asking the EPA when our country will finally begin to clear the air?

Dr. Palfrey is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at the Boston University School of Medicine and a volunteer for the American Lung Association in Massachusetts’ Healthy Air Campaign

From the ALA

Dear Editor,

Soon the Obama Administration will issue a new, innovative proposal to protect public health from air pollution fueled by climate change. By requiring all new coal-fired power plants to limit their carbon emissions, people with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and COPD will one day be better protected. The American Lung Association has led the call for updated standards, and as a volunteer and a medical professional, I also believe the time has come.

Dirty air is responsible for tens of thousands of asthma attacks, millions of missed days of work and school, countless emergency room admissions and hospitalizations and even shortens lives. Climate change will make it harder to clean up our air, making breathing more difficult for the one in ten Massachusetts’ residents who suffer from asthma. This is an especially scary thought for any parent, who has watched their child struggle to breathe when they have an asthma attack.

It’s a long overdue relief for those of us in the public health community to see that the president recognizes the urgency of protecting the health of the American people by moving forward with proposing sensible air quality standards that will undoubtedly benefit generations to come.

Megan Sandel, MD
Boston

ALA helps students with asthma return to school

Lung Association Recognizes Asthma-Friendly Schools and Offers Back-to-School Checklist for Students with Asthma

Waltham – Families across the nation are beginning to prepare for the new school year. A new school environment can sometimes be difficult for children with asthma. This back-to-school season, the American Lung Association highlights tips for families of children with asthma and stresses the importance of crafting a plan to properly manage asthma in a school environment.

“Asthma is a serious chronic disease that affects millions of children,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Asthma symptoms can often be exacerbated at this time of year and it is important for parents to work with their healthcare provider and school personnel prior to the first day of school on controlling their child’s asthma. We must do all that we can to prevent asthma attacks and missed school days.”

Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood disorders in the nation. It affects an estimated 136,267 Massachusetts children under the age of 18. It is also one of the primary illness-related reasons that students miss school, accounting for more than 10 million lost school days each year. Asthma is the third-leading cause of hospitalization for children under 15. In 2011, more than half of people with current asthma experienced at least one episode, or attack—with children 39 percent more likely than adults to have an asthma episode.

As part of its Asthma Friendly Schools Initiative (AFSI) the American Lung Association launched the Asthma-Friendly Schools Champions Awards earlier this year with support from the Environmental Protection Agency and Genentech Pharmaceuticals. The AFSI Champion Awards recognize schools that have taken positive strides to create a healthier learning environment using the strategies outlined in the Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative.

In preparation for the school year ahead, the American Lung Association urges parents who have children with asthma to complete the following checklist:

  • Step 1 – Learn about asthma

The American Lung Association has many free resources to help you and your child learn how to keep asthma in control.

  • Visit www.lung.org/asthma to learn about asthma and asthma management. Be sure to watch the short animation What is Asthma? to learn what happens in the airways during an asthma episode.
  • Asthma Basics is a 50-minute online educational tool for people with asthma or anyone who provides care for someone living with asthma. It teaches how to recognize and manage asthma symptoms, how to identify and reduce triggers, how to create an asthma management plan and how to respond to a breathing emergency.
  • Visit Lungtropolis along with your 5-10 year old child. You’ll find action-packed games designed to help kids control their asthma—plus advice for parents.
  • Step 2 – Talk to the school nurse

Together, you and the school nurse, along with your child’s healthcare provider, can work to reduce asthma triggers and manage symptoms while in school.

  • Ask the school nurse to explain and provide all of the required forms you and your child’s healthcare provider need to sign and complete, including an asthma action plan.
  • All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow children to self-carry and use their asthma inhalers while at school. Each law is different; visit www.breatheatschool.org and click on your state to learn more.
  • Discuss your child’s asthma triggers and steps to reduce them in the classroom.
  • Ask about the school’s asthma emergency plan, and if coaches, teachers and staff are trained in how to recognize asthma symptoms and respond to a breathing emergency.
  • Step 3 – Schedule an asthma check-up

Each school year should begin with a visit to your child’s healthcare provider for an asthma check-up. This check-up is the best time to make sure your child is on the right amount of medicine for their asthma, to fill-out any forms required by the school and to create an asthma management plan as described in Step 4. Kids with asthma should visit their healthcare provider every three to six months, depending on how often your child is having symptoms.

An asthma action plan is a written worksheet created by your healthcare provider and tailored to your child’s needs. The plan includes a list of their asthma triggers and symptoms, the names of their medicines and how much medicine to take when needed. The plan also explains the steps to take to manage an asthma episode and a breathing emergency. An asthma action plan should always be on file in the school nurse’s office and easily accessible to anyone who may need to help your child use their inhaler.

  • Step 5 – Get a flu shot

On average, 1 out of 5 Americans suffers from influenza (flu) every year. Respiratory infections such as the flu are one of the most common asthma triggers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone over the age of six months get a flu vaccination. The best way to protect your family from the flu is for everyone to get vaccinated.

For additional information on asthma and children, including a downloadable version of this checklist with even more details, visitwww.lung.org/asthma or call the Lung HelpLine at1-800-LUNG-USA.

ALA 2013 “Healthy Air Agenda”

American Lung Association in Massachusetts Releases Top Priorities of 2013 “Healthy Air Agenda”
Waltham – The American Lung Association in Massachusetts released the priorities of its 2013 Healthy Air Agenda, a plan of action for the Obama Administration and the 113th Congress that will ensure the Clean Air Act is implemented and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains its authority to safeguard the air Americans breathe.

Despite ongoing interference from Big Polluters and some Members of Congress, the Lung Association in Massachusetts and its allies have made progress on cleaning up the air and will work to continue to do so throughout the coming year, using the Agenda as a roadmap.
The Agenda is organized into four key areas of focus with additional details as to which regulations, rules or activities will remain of focus within each area.  These include:

·         Smokestacks – Clean up coal-fired power plants (both existing and new)
Power plants, in particular those fired by coal, are a major source of hazardous pollutants, and are the biggest source of carbon pollution that is linked to climate change.

·         Tailpipes – Clean up gasoline and vehicles
The EPA needs to update standards to control smog-forming and particle pollution from passenger vehicles by reducing the amount of sulfur in gasoline and setting tighter tailpipe pollution limits on new vehicles.

·         Funding Research & Enforcement
Preventing additional cuts to the EPA will enable the agency to effectively monitor air quality, implement critical air quality programs to protect public health and meet national clean air goals.

·         Implementation without weakening or delays
To truly improve the health of millions of people across the nation and save thousands of lives every year, full implementation of all Clean Air Act updates, rules, and standards is needed – without threats to these life-saving protections.

“In the coming year, it is important that polluted air continue to be viewed and understood as a pervasive threat, affecting our most vulnerable populations here in Massachusetts,” said Katie King, Director of Public Policy of the American Lung Association in Massachusetts.  Some of those who are most susceptible to air pollution include children, seniors, those with lung disease, heart disease and diabetes, people with low incomes, and those who work and exercise outdoors.

King expressed concerns that the looming, automatic federal budget cuts due on March 1 will harm public health by reducing the EPA’s ability to monitor air quality, ensure compliance with air pollution laws, and enforce violations.  “Without an environmental cop on the beat, we could be subjecting the residents to breathing dirtier air and jeopardizing their health,” she said.

The American Lung Association’s 2012 State of the Air Report found that 2.7 million Massachusetts residents, more than a third in the state, live in a county with failing air quality.  Six counties received an F grade for ozone pollution.
By identifying these four critical areas of focus, and key solutions for addressing each, the Lung Association in Massachusetts will be able to devote focused efforts to the life-saving work that protects the Clean Air Act and the health of millions of people across the country and here in the Bay State.