Today, fear and negativity are often used to motivate us ... fear between the races, economic fears, fears about violence. Although we may be moved to do something out of fear, it isn't the motivation that encouragement is.
When it comes to asthma and the Central Valley's air pollution, we hear a lot of negative, fearful things: the pollution of our air is worsening; asthma is becoming more prevalent. At times, it seems there is no stopping the inevitable advancement of either problem.
The truth is that both air pollution and asthma here in Modesto ARE improving. The standards for air pollution have been elevated in recent years. That is to say, they have been made more strict. As it turns out, we have been working hard as a community to improve the quality of our air with success.
Asthma is common in the Central Valley. Approximately 12 of every 100 children have asthma. However, if you look at Modesto's rate of admissions to emergency rooms for asthma, an interesting fact emerges. When compared with the rest of the Central Valley, we have fewer admissions than other counties. In fact, our emergency room visit rate is better than California in general.
By what means have we improved? Education of health care workers, asthmatics and their families is an important way to effect change. The Stanislaus County Asthma Coalition (SCAC) has worked hard over the last 10 years to educate all of these important groups. Hospitals have introduced teaching policies that prevent asthmatic patients from needing to return repeatedly to the emergency room with asthma flares. Respiratory therapists teach patients about asthma prevention and treatment more than ever before.
The Central Valley Air Pollution District Board has worked hard to steadily improve the quality of our air.
Together, and as individuals, we can do much to improve asthma in our community and THAT is Good News.
For information, visit www.stanasthma.org (Stanislaus County Asthma Coalition Web site) or
www.valleyair.org (San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Web site).
Caroll is a doctor, an allergist and chair for the Stanislaus County Asthma Coalition.