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High Asthma Rates in the Bronx: What Science Now Knows and Needs to Learn

High Asthma Rates in the Bronx: What Science Now Knows and Needs to Learn

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by the Environmental Sciences Section and Atmospheric Sciences & Geology Section


Speakers: Patrick L. Kinney, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Juliana Maantay, Lehman College, City University of New York; George Thurston, New York University School of Medicine; Gregg M. Recer, New York State Department of Health

Moderator: A. Hal Strelnick, Institute of Community and Collaborative Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Why do asthma rates vary so widely across New York City neighborhoods? Asthma disproportionately strikes the young, affecting 20%-25% of school-age children in the South Bronx and Harlem. In 2005 their hospitalization rates for asthma were quadruple that of children living in Richmond.

Untangling the causes of these alarming health disparities is critical in developing an effective response. Air pollution has long been known to be a significant risk factor. But variability of exposure to air pollutants, and their differential effects, have been hard to establish.

This Environmental Sciences event brings together a panel of active investigators to discuss their current research and differing methodological approaches. New studies are delving below the epidemiological averages to map out the micro-environments which determine individual exposure, allowing us for the first time to relate the dose of air pollution received, by type of pollutant, to rates of asthma episodes. How is this research being conducted and what scientific questions are being addressed? What is this work telling us about asthma—its causes, episodic triggers, and possibilities for control?

Links to related materials:
The State of Childhood Asthma, United States, 1980-2005
CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Dec. 29, 2006
New York City Asthma Initiative
NYCDOHMH (data through 2005 in NYC plus other initiatives)
Asthma Facts
2nd edition, May 2003, NYCDOHMH