As part of Asthma Awareness Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recommending ways people can help prevent asthma attacks. The agency says the disease has consistently increased over the past decade with more than 4 million additional cases reported, including nearly 1 million additional cases reported in children. One out of every 10 school aged children is affected and approximately 13 million people have reported having an asthma attack in the past year.

"All Americans should be able to breathe easy whether they’re at home, at work or on the playground," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. "Yet too many of our children and family members suffer from asthma, resulting in doctor and hospital visits, lost learning time, more sick days and higher health care costs. It's our mission at EPA to protect the health of our communities by putting Clean Air Act safeguards in place to reduce levels of harmful pollutants in the air we all breathe. "

The agency says people should be aware that elements such as dust mites, mold, cockroaches, pet dander, and secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks in doors.

The EPA also says that regulatory actions it has taken, including the updating air quality standards and reducing air pollution from power plants, industry and vehicles can help. The agency recently proposed the first national standard for mercury pollution from power plants, which is estimated to prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms, helping people breathe easier by improving outdoor air quality and reducing fine particle pollution.

As part of Asthma Awareness Month, EPA recommends these top five steps people can take to help prevent asthma attacks:
  • Smoke outside, not in homes or cars. One of the most common asthma triggers in the home is second hand smoke.
  • Check the Air Quality Index (AQI) to find out of levels on particular days are unhealthy. Ozone and particle pollution can cause asthma attacks.
  • Control dust mites by covering mattresses and pillows with allergen proof covers and by washing sheets and blankets once a week in hot water.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and off furniture.
  • Control mold by controlling moisture. Wash and dry hard surfaces to prevent and remove mold. Replace moldy ceiling tiles and carpet.
The EPA will host the National Asthma Forum in Washington, D.C. on June 9. The agency says the forum will bring together hundreds of providers, health departments, community asthma coalitions, researchers and policy makers to strategize on community-based ways to improve asthma outcomes, build successful and sustainable asthma care programs, and extend the reach and impact of high quality asthma care to everyone in need.