2003: America's Asthma 'Hot Spots' Identified
Where in the United States is it hardest for asthma sufferers to
live comfortably? Which cities make living with asthma easier?
Sperling's BestPlaces recently completed a study that ranks 100
U.S. metropolitan areas according to asthma prevalence and the
degree to which environmental "triggers" and other factors make
living with asthma a particular challenge.
Asthma is a chronic illness in the United States that has been increasing in prevalence since 1980. Many factors can trigger an asthma attack, including allergens, infections, exercise, abrupt changes in the weather, or exposure to airway irritants (such as tobacco smoke and pollution). To reflect the varying conditions that can trigger an asthma attack, a number of criteria were identified and weighted in order to determine which U.S. cities present the greatest challenge for those with asthma.
"Often, people consider only asthma prevalence or mortality rates to determine where asthma has the greatest impact," noted Sperling's BestPlaces President Bert Sperling. "But examine more data, including environmental factors that can be asthma triggers, and a more complete picture emerges."
The 10 Most Challenging Asthma Hot Spots
1. Tucson, AZ
The Tucson metro area, home to an estimated 95,000 people with
asthma, has high asthma prevalence, asthma mortality, and few
physicians in asthma-related specialties. "The dry, hot climate of
the Southwest can really pose problems for those with asthma,"
observed Sperling. On a positive note, Tucson has a low level of
ozone air pollution.
2. Kansas City, MO
Home to an estimated 213,000 people with asthma, Kansas City has
high pollen levels and asthma prevalence. The good news for
asthmatics is that Kansas City has low levels of ozone air
3. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ
The 372,000 asthma sufferers in Phoenix-Mesa contend with high
asthma prevalence, high asthma mortality, and lax smoking laws.
However, Phoenix-Mesa has low pollen levels.
4. Fresno, CA
The Fresno metro area is home to an estimated 199,000 people with
asthma. Fresno has high asthma prevalence, asthma mortality, and
ozone pollution. Like Phoenix, though, Fresno has particularly low
5. New York, NY
Nearly one million New Yorkers suffer from asthma, and they are
faced with particularly high levels of ozone pollution. "The
polluted air of large cities poses a particularly difficult
challenge for those with asthma," commented Sperling. On the other
hand, New York averages fewer cigarettes per person than most
6. El Paso, TX
Home to an estimated 92,000 people with asthma, El Paso has high
asthma prevalence, lax smoking laws, and an extreme climate. In
the city's favor, folks in El Paso smoke few cigarettes.
7. Albuquerque, NM
Lenient smoking laws, high asthma mortality, and high asthma
prevalence present a challenge to the 79,000 asthma sufferers in
Albuquerque. On the positive side, Albuquerque has low levels of
ozone air pollution.
8. Indianapolis, IN
Home to an estimated 189,000 people with asthma, Indianapolis has
high asthma prevalence and a high ratio of written asthma
prescriptions. On the other hand, Indianapolis has particularly
low pollen levels.
9. Mobile, AL
The Mobile metro area is home to an estimated 51,000 people with
asthma. Although it has a high rate of asthma mortality, Mobile
has low levels of non-ozone air pollution.
10. Tulsa, OK
The Tulsa metro area, home to an estimated 76,000 people with
asthma, has high pollen levels and asthma prevalence. The good
news is that Tulsa's levels of non-ozone air pollution are
The Top 10 Best Cities for Asthma Sufferers