May is Asthma Awareness Month, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spotlights ways people can take simple steps to help prevent asthma attacks. EPA also honors local asthma management programs for their leadership in improving the lives of people living with asthma, especially those in underserved communities.

“Asthma is fundamentally connected to the health of our environment – whether it’s the air outside, or in our homes,” said Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By working together across the environmental, housing, social, and medical sectors, we can do even more to raise awareness about this critical public health issue and protect those who are most vulnerable, including the more than 6 million children in the U.S. with asthma.”

On May 12, EPA will honor the winners of the agency’s National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management. Each winner is an outstanding national model for comprehensive asthma care. These four winners are: AmeriHealth Caritas of Philadelphia; Urban Health Plan of Bronx, N.Y.; New England Asthma Innovation Collaborative of Boston; and Public Health – Seattle and King County of Seattle. For more information on these winners, go to www.epa.gov/asthma/national-environmental-leadership-award-asthma-management.

Asthma is a respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult. Asthma affects nearly 24 million Americans, including more than six million children—with poor and minority children affected disproportionately. The economic impacts of asthma amount to more than $50 billion per year from direct and indirect costs, such as medical bills and missed school and work days. EPA’s comprehensive asthma program helps those with asthma through environmental research and education, as well as through community-focused outreach that aims to increase sustainable access to home visits.

Asthma sufferers can take some important actions to help control their symptoms and still maintain active lifestyles with three simple steps: Identify and avoid environmental asthma triggers; create an Asthma Action Plan with help from your doctor; and pay attention to your local air quality conditions through the http://airnow.gov website and Air Quality Index app for your smart phone.

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