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EPA and American Lung Association Announce Asthma Research Strategy

Release Date: 10/31/2002
Contact Information:


Suzanne Ackerman 202-564-7819/ackerman.suzanne@epa.gov


(10/31/02) In honor of national Children’s Health Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Lung Association today announced the Asthma Research Strategy, a new initiative to advance the scientific understanding and prevention of asthma, the most common chronic childhood illness. Approximately 3.8 million children had an asthma attack in the past year. Asthma is more prevalent in low-income and minority communities, and the number of children with asthma is rising. Environmental contaminants such as smoke, air pollution, pollen and particulate matter influence the incidence and severity of asthma. The Asthma Research Strategy will guide EPA research efforts, led by the Office of Research and Development (ORD), to address the significant issues of exposures, effects, risk assessment, and risk management of environmental pollutants relevant to asthma.

"Reducing the number of children who suffer from asthma is one of our top children’s health priorities," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "While we do not know all the causes of asthma, we do know that environmental factors, such as air pollution, both outdoors and indoors, dust, mold and second-hand smoke make asthma worse. EPA has been working to raise awareness about indoor air asthma triggers and the efforts of this Administration to make outdoor air cleaner will directly help everyone who suffers from asthma. President Bush’s Clear Skies proposal will achieve mandatory reductions of 70 percent in three of the most noxious air pollutants emitted by power plants – nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury. As a result, our children will breathe easier – reducing asthma attacks, emergency room visits, missed school days and premature deaths.

“We are on the right track, but we can and must do more. The Asthma Research Strategy highlights information gaps and prioritizes our research needs so that we can apply our resources and knowledge in the most effective way and fill those gaps. We are committed to laying a strong foundation of scientific knowledge as we work to control environmental factors that contribute to the prevalence and severity of asthma in our society. I’m pleased that with us today is one of our partners – American Lung Association President John Kirkwood, and I look forward to our continued partnership.”

John Kirkwood, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, commented, "We’re extremely proud of the progress that we have made in treating asthma in the last 10 years. Due to advances in research and treatment, asthma is now a highly controllable condition. But we’re not stopping until we can prevent and cure asthma. We believe research on environmental pollutants role in asthma may hold an important key. We thank the Office of Research and Development for committing their impressive research resources to this goal, and for implementing the Asthma Research Strategy through programs such as the American Lung Association’s Asthma Clinical Research Centers network. ”

The Asthma Research Strategy will address the following issues:
        • pollutants that contribute to the induction and exacerbation of asthma, such as air toxics, byproducts of combustion, aerosols, indoor allergens and environmental tobacco smoke,
        • susceptibility factors that contribute to asthma: genetics, prior health problems, socioeconomic status, residence and exposure history,
        • risk assessment and risk management of environmental pollutants relevant to asthma.
Asthma is a complex disease characterized by recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and cough particularly at night and/or early morning. In addition, the disease has a definite genetic component and can be caused by a variety of factors. Most types of asthma are linked to allergic responses to common indoor and outdoor allergens, such as dust, animal dander, pollens and molds.

The Asthma Research Strategy is available at http://www.epa.gov http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/ and at EPA’s asthma website at www.epa.gov/iaq/asthma.http://www.epa.gov The EPA offers a number of resources for parents and children to understand and manage asthma. For a free information packet, call the Childhood Asthma "Fish Out of Water" hotline at 1-800-315-8056 or visit EPA's asthma website at www.epa.gov/iaq/asthma for a list of asthma education activities in your local area.