Twice every year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) evaluates certain data and declares 100 "asthma capitals" meaning these urban areas are particularly challenging places to live if you have asthma. In other words, you want to live just anywhere other than one of these 100 cities.
Richmond, Virginia has struck out for the second time in a row, being the #1 Asthma Capital. But they're not alone... there are 14 southern cities in the top 25 asthma capitals, seven of them in the top 10 alone.
About This Research Project
The AAFA's Asthma Capitals project is an annual study designed to call attention to the asthma epidemic in the United States, and to advocate for changes in the "capital" cities to improve the quality of life for people with asthma.
The rankings are based on 12 different factors in three different groups. They include:
- Prevalence - morbidity and mortality statistics
- Risk - air quality, pollen, "100 percent smoke-free" laws, poverty
- Medical - medication usage and access to asthma specialists in the area
Why the South Is So Hard Hit
So, you might be wondering what's going on in the south that so many of its cities are so highly ranked as asthma capitals this year. Experts believe a big factor is that the south is lagging way behind on establishing "smoke-free" laws, probably because the south is where tobacco is produced in large part.
Also, southern cities continue to have high levels of air pollution and ozone, which are major risk factors for people with asthma.
What to Do with This Information
I hear you asking, "So what am I supposed to do with this information? Move?", and fortunately the answer is no. The AAFA has adopted the slogan, "Don't Move... Improve". Their message is that risk factors are everywhere, so the solution is to work with your doctor to improve your overall asthma management plan, no matter where you live.
To learn more about this year's Asthma Capitals and to see where your area ranks, you can download this PDF from AAFA.