World Asthma Day: Ways Oregon can breathe easier

Try this: pinch your nose and breathe through a straw. That’s what asthma can feel like, according to many who’ve experienced it. You can’t draw enough breath.

May 2 is World Asthma Day. For the 360,000 Oregonians with asthma, even a mild attack can interfere with sleep, school, work—even talking and thinking.  Plus, the costs of managing this chronic disease add up to about $411 million a year in health costs in Oregon.

So, what can be done to help Oregon breathe easier? Here are a few ways we can all do our part.

Healthy home choices

More than half of Oregon’s asthma sufferers say they’ve never been told that changes in the home can help them! People spend on average, 90% of their time indoors, so the home environment is an important one for health.

What you can do: Learn about asthma triggers, from smoke and pet dander to cleaning and maintenance supplies. Download our healthy homes checklist for ways to improve indoor air.

Clean up our outdoor air

We’ve got work to do. According to the
American Lung Association’s 2017 “State of the Air” report, Medford has some of the nation’s worst particle pollution year round. Eugene and Bend join Medford in the top 25 worst US cities for short-term spikes on particle pollution. That’s not good for anyone who breathes, but it’s especially hard on people with sensitive lungs and hearts. Here’s the good news: if we provide cleaner and more active transportation options, we’ll not only reduce asthma, but also help address the other costly chronic diseases.

What you can do: Act now! See our legislative update for what you can do to support diesel clean-up and healthy transportation options.

Create healthy schools

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America keep an honor roll” of states that employ at least 18 of 23 policies that help kids breathe easy. Oregon is one policy short of the honor role! If we ensure adequate school nurses, create school bus idling restrictions, or any of 13 other recommended policies, we’ll earn our place on the honor roll.

What you can do: In Portland, voters can weigh in on a proposed bond measure that would begin to address the greatest needs in improving public school environments. Parents and neighbors in any area  can help by setting up anti-idling programs at schools. There’s a great anti-idling tool kit available from AirWatch NW.

Support public health programs

Oregon’s asthma program makes sure authorities all understand our state’s asthma program and the most effective ways to address it—including reducing both outdoor and indoor air pollution. But the program relies on federal funding, as does more than half of the Oregon Health Authority’s budget. Supporting strong funding for health is one way to help ease asthma across the state.

What you can do: Ask both your state and federal elected officials to stand up for our natural resource and public health agencies in the budgeting process.

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