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Air quality issues the focus of Asthma Awareness Month

May is Asthma Awareness Month, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is taking the opportunity to spread the word about how environmental asthma triggers affect sufferers of the disease.

“One in ten kids in America today suffers from asthma, which disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income families,” said 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.”

McCarthy said since 1990, air quality has improved significantly for ozone and particle pollution, along with lead, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide.

She said pollution reductions through the Clean Air Act prevented more than an estimated 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone, and that standards for Boilers and certain incinerators will prevent 42,000 asthma attacks per year, and EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will potentially prevent 130,000 asthma attacks per year.

The EPA says its 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,” according to a statement from the agency. “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.”

Click here to view McCarthy’s video message in a larger version


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