March 5, 2010 -- Richmond, Va., is the “most challenging” place to live
for Americans with asthma, according to a ranking by the Asthma and Allergy
Foundation of America (AAFA).
It is joined in the Top 25 by 12 other Southern cities. The AAFA says the
poor ranking for cities in the South is due in large part to slow adoption of “100% smoke-free”
The worst five cities in 2010 for people with asthma are:
St. Louis, Mo.
Of the 100 cities examined, the bottom five on the list - the metro areas
best for asthma sufferers - are Minneapolis at No. 100, San Francisco at 99,
Daytona Beach, Fla., at 98, Portland, Ore., at 97, and Des Moines, Iowa, at
Researchers looked at a number of factors, analyzing data on prevalence of
the disease and risk and medical factors for the 100 most populated
metropolitan statistical areas in the nation. These included annual pollen
scores, pollution levels, public smoking laws, poverty rates, the percentage of
people without health insurance, and state laws ensuring student access to
emergency inhalers to use in asthma
episodes. The researchers also looked at the number of states that have the
most antismoking laws, forbidding smoking in bars, restaurants, workplaces, and
in some states, cars in which minors are riding.
Stan Fineman, MD, of the Atlanta Asthma and Allergy Clinic says cities known
for traffic congestion, ozone problems, and high pollen counts are difficult
for people with asthma.
“We see very high pollen counts in the South,” Fineman tells WebMD. “And
smog in many cities on the list is a problem for people with asthma.”
Sandra Fryhofer, MD, an internist and a past president of the American
College of Physicians, tells WebMD that smog-induced asthma is on the rise, and
that it’s no surprise that cities like Richmond that don’t have enough allergy
and asthma specialists rank high
on the list.
The AAFA says in a news release that cities were ranked from the highest
total score -- Richmond’s was 100 -- to the lowest. By comparison, Minneapolis’
score, calculated as a composite of all factors that contribute to higher
asthma prevalence, was 61.3.