Atlanta Named 2007 "Asthma Capital"

Atlanta Ranked Worst, Seattle Best U.S. City for Asthma Sufferers

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 19, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Jan. 18, 2007 -- The "A" in Atlanta might as well stand for asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

The nonprofit patient organization says that for asthma sufferers, Atlanta is the worst U.S. city to live in.

Seattle ranks best -- or, in this case, least bad -- on the group's list of the 100 "most challenging places to live with asthma."

The 10 worst asthma cities, according to the AAFA, are:

  1. Atlanta (last year: 4th)
  2. Philadelphia (last year: 3rd)
  3. Raleigh, N.C.
  4. Knoxville, Tenn.
  5. Harrisburg, Pa.
  6. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  7. Milwaukee, Wis. (last year: 5th)
  8. Greensboro, N.C. (last year: 7th)
  9. Scranton, Pa. (last year: 1st)
  10. Little Rock, Ark.

Atlanta earns its "worst" score from the city's high asthma death rate, high pollen levels, and severe air pollution.

The AAFA also cites Atlanta's "worse-than-average" public smoking laws, although the city does ban smoking in 80% of hotel rooms and in bars and restaurants that allow access to minors (except in private, separately ventilated rooms).

The idea behind the ranking is to warn Americans that across the nation, asthma rates continue to climb.

Growing Problem

In the last 20 years, asthma prevalence has doubled, says Derek Johnson, MD, director of pediatric allergy at Temple University, in a news release.

"People can't just move away from their asthma since every city in America has a variety of risk factors," Johnson says.

Indeed, even Seattle flunks some AAFA tests. The city gets "worse than average" scores in asthma prevalence and only "average" ratings for air quality, uninsured rates, school inhaler-access laws, and number of asthma specialists.

"People should work with an asthma specialist to have a good asthma management plan no matter where they live," Johnson says.

100 Worst Cities

Here's the complete 2007 AAFA list of the 100 most challenging places to live with asthma:

  1. Atlanta
  2. Philadelphia
  3. Raleigh, N.C.
  4. Knoxville, Tenn.
  5. Harrisburg, Pa.
  6. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  7. Milwaukee, Wis.
  8. Greensboro, N.C.
  9. Scranton, Pa.
  10. Little Rock, Ark.
  11. San Antonio
  12. Los Angeles
  13. Chicago
  14. Charlotte, N.C.
  15. Fresno, Calif.
  16. Allentown, Pa.
  17. Birmingham, Ala.
  18. Baltimore
  19. Mobile, Ala.
  20. Detroit
  21. Lancaster, Pa.
  22. Johnson City, Tenn.
  23. Pittsburgh
  24. Oklahoma City
  25. Tulsa, Okla.
  26. Chattanooga, Tenn.
  27. McAllen, Texas
  28. St. Louis
  29. Hartford, Conn.
  30. Memphis, Tenn.
  31. Fort Wayne, Ind.
  32. Bakersfield, Calif.
  33. Salt Lake City
  34. Greenville, S.C.
  35. Kalamazoo, Mich.
  36. Dallas-Ft. Worth
  37. Boston
  38. Houston
  39. Modesto, Calif.
  40. Richmond, Va.
  41. Augusta, Ga.
  42. El Paso, Texas
  43. Indianapolis
  44. Phoenix-Mesa
  45. Wichita, Kan.
  46. Louisville, Ky.
  47. Austin, Texas
  48. Columbia, S.C.
  49. Las Vegas
  50. Lansing, Mich.
  51. Stockton, Calif.
  52. Washington, D.C.
  53. Norfolk, Va.
  54. Toledo, Ohio
  55. Springfield, Mass.
  56. Kansas City, Mo.
  57. Albuquerque, N.M.
  58. Columbus, Ohio
  59. Nashville, Tenn.
  60. New York
  61. Providence, R.I.
  62. Youngstown, Ohio
  63. San Diego
  64. Sacramento, Calif.
  65. Buffalo, N.Y.
  66. Cleveland
  67. Charleston, S.C.
  68. Syracuse, N.Y.
  69. Cincinnati
  70. Dayton, Ohio
  71. Albany, N.Y.
  72. Des Moines, Iowa
  73. Rochester, N.Y.
  74. Lexington, Ky.
  75. Portland, Ore.
  76. Pensacola, Fla.
  77. Jackson, Miss.
  78. Denver
  79. Canton, Ohio
  80. Tampa, Fla.
  81. Tucson, Ariz.
  82. Omaha, Neb.
  83. Madison, Wis.
  84. New Orleans
  85. Jacksonville, Fla.
  86. Orlando, Fla.
  87. Baton Rouge, La.
  88. Boise City, Idaho
  89. Spokane, Wash.
  90. Lakeland, Fla.
  91. San Francisco
  92. Daytona Beach, Fla.
  93. Fort Myers, Fla.
  94. Sarasota, Fla.
  95. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  96. Melbourne, Fla.
  97. West Palm Beach, Fla.
  98. Miami
  99. Minneapolis
  100. Seattle
WebMD Health News


SOURCES: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "2007 Asthma Capitals -- The Most Challenging Places to Live with Asthma," AAFA web site. American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation web site. News release, AAFA.

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