Asthma is a disease that affects the lungs. It is one of the most common chronic diseases among children in the U.S and impacts over 5 million Californians. Asthma is characterized by ongoing inflammation of the lining of the lung passages. Frequently, this inflammation does not cause symptoms. At other times, the lung passages undergo spasms resulting in symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness, and wheezing. The severity of those symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.
The Institute of Medicine identified the association between biological and chemical exposures in the home with asthma. As much as 40% of excess asthma risk in minority children may be attributable to exposure to residential allergens such as mold, dust mites, and cockroaches. Racial and ethnic disparities in asthma morbidity may partly be due to substandard housing and poverty. Substandard housing is more likely to have excessive moisture and dampness, structural deficits, poor ventilation, deteriorated carpeting, and cockroach/pest problems, all of which create indoor environmental conditions that may cause asthma or may trigger an asthma episode. Indoor triggers or exposures associated with asthma attacks include: cockroaches, dust mites, pet dander, secondhand smoke, and mold or other fungi.
Asthma in California:
- In 2012, there were over 72,000 emergency department visits by children (0-17).
- In 2011, child lifetime asthma prevalence was 15.4 percent.
- In California, Blacks have much higher rates of asthma ED visits, hospitalizations, and prevalence than Whites.
California Breathing provides guidance on preventing and reducing household asthma triggers. Fact Sheets are available in English and Spanish at Healthy Homes and Asthma.