Asthma is a disease that causes the airways that carry oxygen in and out of the lungs to be irritated and swollen. Asthma’s impact on health, quality of life, and the economy are substantial. In 2003, there were more than 574,000 hospitalizations for asthma and in 2005, nearly 4,000 Americans died of asthma. Asthma is the leading chronic health condition among children, and t here are large racial, income and geographic differences in poor asthma outcomes.
Asthma attacks and episodes are serious problems with breathing that are caused by triggers. The most common indoor asthma triggers are smoke, animals with fur or feathers, dust mites, mold or mildew, and strong fragrances, smells and chemicals, such as chlorine bleach. Outdoor triggers include plant pollens, and air pollution caused by industrial emissions and automobile exhaust.
A number of studies have reported associations between air pollution exposure and asthma. Two key air pollutants, ozone and particulate matter, have been found to make asthma symptoms worse and trigger attacks.
Most problems associated with asthma, including emergency room visits and hospitalizations, are avoided if asthma is well-managed. Effective asthma management includes control of exposure to factors that trigger attacks and episodes.
Tracking asthma hospitalizations will let Oregon EPHT look more closely at the relationship between asthma and indoor and outdoor pollutants by examining trends, geographic or demographic differences, and targeting interventions to those most in need of care.
Learn more about what information the Oregon EPHT program collects about asthma.