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Asthma Facts


Asthma is a rapidly growing public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • About 23 million people, including 6.8 million children, have asthma.
  • Asthma prevalence is higher among families with lower incomes.
  • 12 million people report having an asthma attack in the past year.
  • Asthma accounts for nearly 17 million physician office and hospital visits, and nearly 2 million emergency department visits each year.

African Americans continue to have higher rates of asthma emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths than do Caucasians:


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  • The rate of emergency department visits is 350% higher.
  • The hospitalization rate is 240% higher.
  • The asthma death rate is 200% higher.

Approximately 2 million Hispanics in the U.S. have asthma and Puerto Ricans are disproportionately impacted:

  • The rate of asthma among Puerto Ricans is 125% higher than non-Hispanic white people and 80% higher than non-Hispanic black people.
  • The prevalence of asthma attacks is highest among Puerto Ricans.

Asthma in Children:

  • Asthma is one of the most common serious chronic diseases of childhood. 
  • Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children under 15.
  • Asthma in children is the cause of seven million physician visits and nearly 200,000 hospitalizations.
  • An average of one out of every 10 school-aged child has asthma.
  • 13 million school days are missed each year due to asthma.

The Cost of Asthma:

  • Annual expenditures for health and lost productivity due to asthma are estimated at nearly $20 billion, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Asthma research by EPA and others has shown that:

  • Dust mites, molds, cockroaches, pet dander, and secondhand smoke trigger asthma attacks.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause asthma in pre-school aged children.
  • Exposure to dust mites can cause asthma.
  • Ozone and particle pollution can cause asthma attacks. When ozone levels are high, more people with asthma have attacks that require a doctor’s attention.
  • Ozone makes people more sensitive to asthma triggers such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mold.

Learn more at


(Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)



  1. Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2006, Tables 3 and 4.
  2. Akinbami L. Asthma Prevelance, Health Care Use and Mortality: United States 2003-2005.
  3. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2006 Summary, Table 12
  4. DeFrances CJ, Cullen KA, Kozak LJ. National Hospital Discharge Survey: 2005 Annual Summary with Detailed Diagnosis and Procedure Data. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics 12 (165); 2007.
  5. American Lung Association, Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, Research and Program Services. Trends in Asthma Morbidity and Mortality. November 2007. (ALA age group analysis of NHIS through 2005). 8ade-7f5d5e762256%7D/ASTHMA_TREND_Nov2007.PDF.
  6. Akinbami LJ. The State of Childhood Asthma, United States, 1980-2005, Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics: no 381, Revised December 29, 2006, Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2006 (NHIS 2003 absenteeism)
  7. National Heart; Lung and Blood Institute Chartbook on Cardiovascular, Lung and Blood Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health, 2007.


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Asthma Facts:  Created on March 22nd, 2009.  Last Modified on April 28th, 2013


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About EPA

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, the EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. At laboratories located throughout the nation, the agency works to assess environmental conditions and to identify, understand and solve current and future environmental problems.



Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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