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Worst, Best Cities For Asthma Sufferers

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 2:49 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Allergies, Pollen, Humidity, Pollution, Air Quality, Asthma and Allergy Foundation

St. Louis tops the list as a city with the most challenging atmosphere for asthma sufferers.
St. Louis Arch, Wikimedia Commons

St. Louis Tops 2009 List

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IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons, St. Louis Arch on the Mississippi River at night/ author: Daniel Schwen, January 2008

For the past six years the worst cities for asthma have been listed by the nonprofit Asthma and Allergy Foundation (AAFA).

The list is out again this year and topping the list as worst offenders or Asthma Capitals for 2009 are - St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Birmingham, Alabama.

St. Louis ranked number nine in 2008. The city has a higher than average pollen score, continued poor air quality and a lack of 100% smoke-free laws, says the report.

Rounding out the remainder of the Top Asthma Capitals for 2009 are:

4. Chattanooga, TN
5. Charlotte, NC
6. Memphis, TN
7. Knoxville, TN
8. McAllen, TX
9. Atlanta, GA
10. Little Rock, AR

Conversely, the AAFA does not rank the best cities for asthma sufferers, but in determining the worst out of 100 metropolitan areas, the group looks at a number of criteria - asthma prevalence, pollution levels and pollen counts.

Some cities are just relatively good places for people with asthma to live. Note * many of them are on the water and include:

  • Cape Coral, Fla.
  • Seattle
  • Minneapolis
  • Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Palm Bay, Fla.
  • Daytona Beach, Fla.
  • San Francisco,
  • Portland, Maine
  • Boise City, Idaho

AAFA spokeswoman, Angel Waldron says the list came in reaction to the question they get from people, where might the best place be to live if you have allergies. While allergies are individual in nature, she tells Web MD. “There are so many factors, and it all depends on what triggers your symptoms."

Pollen counts tends to blow away near water also. Cities in the valley can trap pollutants as air doesn’t move as freely. Also a moderate climate tends not to be an asthma trigger. Cold air can shock the lungs and cause a bronchospasm.

Humidity can be a problem for some, such as the Florida town of Cape Coral, as it tends to encourage the growth of mold and dust mites.

For some pollen dropping from trees, especially in the southeast with oak, maple and elm trees, may present some of the worst pollen, while ragweed is present in the northeastern cities.

Ironically polluting coming from cars, business and factories can also indirectly increase pollen levels because carbon dioxide, the waste product from combustion is also used by plants to grow.

"Studies have shown that in urban areas with a lot of pollution, the high carbon dioxide levels encourage plant growth," says Jonathan A. Bernstein, MD, an allergist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine to Web MD. "That increases the pollen levels."

Allergy sufferers often complain of red and puffy eyes and half say they give up their contacts for glasses.

Generally moving to escape your allergies doesn’t work because people with allergies are prone to developing new ones. Those looking for relief may try living in the new location for a short while before permanently uprooting themselves there.

And with Americans spending about 22 hours out of the day indoors, indoor pollutants such as cleaning agents, perfumes and off gasses from paint, carpets and furniture may be providing the trigger for allergies. #


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