Child Asthma Hospitalizations Drop as California’s Air Quality Improves!

Child Asthma Hospitalizations Drop as California’s Air Quality Improves!

We believe that breathing healthy air is a basic human right. Air pollution leads to asthma, chronic respiratory and even pulmonary disease. If you’ve spent any time with someone who has suffered an asthma attack, who has missed school or work to take care of a loved one or who has passed away from lung cancer, then you understand what we are up against.

The latest research in the the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health annual “Kids Data” report clearly demonstrates the link between breathing clean air and improved health outcomes for our children.

The good news is that we are moving in the right direction.

The bad news is that there’s still far too many children going to the hospital.

The rate of asthma-related child hospitalizations in California dropped by one-third, from 16 to 11 percent, between 2001-2014, according the most recent data now available on the Kidsdata report.

Asthma Hospitalizations, by Age Group

During the same time period, measurements of air quality also improved: The number of days with ozone levels that exceeded regulatory standards in California dropped by 60 percent, and the levels of Particulate Matter Concentration fell by 23 percent.

Reduction in ozone days above the regulatory standard

Annual Average Particulate Matter Concentration

Annual Average Particulate Matter Concentration

Five counties, Napa, Ventura, Imperial, Yuba, and Yolo, all saw drops of more than 50 percent in total asthma-related child hospitalizations.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases among children in the U.S. and a leading cause of hospitalizations and absences from school. Environmental factors, including air pollutants, account for an estimated 30 percent of the total childhood asthma burden in California, according to a report by the Public Health Institute.

Children are more vulnerable to pollutants because they breathe more air relative to their size, compared to adults, and thus experience greater proportionate exposure to chemicals. In addition, children are at greater risk of harm from contaminants because their bodies and organs are not fully developed.

According to experts, policies that could influence asthma rates, treatment, and health consequences include ensuring that all children have adequate health care and insurance coverage for prevention and treatment of asthma. Other recommendations call for strengthening and enforcing laws and regulations limiting vehicle emissions, agricultural practices that generate dust and particulates, and industrial practices that generate air pollution.

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