Indianapolis, IN- The recent fire at a plastics recycling plant in Richmond, Indiana is an important reminder about air quality and asthma for residents of Indiana. While the fire has died down, the air still contains chemicals and fine particles that are found in smoke and may affect the respiratory system. The after effects of the fire may continue to put health at risk for those living close to the recycling center. In addition to evacuating those who live nearby, school closures and advice to stay indoors have been what residents of Wayne County are doing to protect their health.
Courtney Stewart, Lead to the Indiana Joint Asthma Coalition (InJAC), a statewide health coalition working toward reducing the burden of asthma in Indiana as part of Connections IN Health, a partnership between the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and the Indiana Department of Health said, “This unfortunate incident in Richmond makes it even more important for the residents of the state, particularly those who live with asthma, like myself, to be aware of the many resources that our coalition offers; in particular asthma action plans, which are short written plans that you develop with your doctor to help manage your asthma.” Having an asthma action plan is crucial during times of environmental action days and situations like the fire in Richmond.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma is the leading chronic condition in the United States. Approximately twenty-five million Americans have asthma, or about 1 in 13 people. In Indiana, about 1 in 10 adult Hoosiers has asthma, while the childhood rate is close to one in fifteen children. There is currently no cure for asthma, but there are treatment options available for those living with the condition.
Environmental asthma risk increases in relation to where an individual lives and the quality of the air they breathe. Living close to factories with chemical exhaust, second-hand smoke, wood fires, and occupational hazards experienced by people in a variety of workplace situations all contribute to increased risk of developing asthma or worsening an existing diagnosis. Children have little control over the conditions in which they live or go to school, making them more at-risk of developing asthma or suffering increased symptoms.
The Indiana Joint Asthma Coalition (InJAC) established in 2003 to join individuals and organizations interested in reducing the burden of asthma, improving the quality of patient care, reducing environmental triggers, and strengthening asthma programming in Indiana. InJAC resources are available and feature:
· Resource articles
· Free digital booklets about asthma for parents, caregivers, nurses, and school officials
· Links to asthma education opportunities throughout the state
· Information about free bi-monthly coalition meetings and where to join
To get involved with the Indiana Joint Asthma Coalition or to get connected with asthma experts in the state, please reach out to Courtney Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on InJAC and other chronic disease coalitions in Indiana, contact Connections IN Health at email@example.com or visit the Connections IN Health website.