A large fire at a plastics recycling plant in Richmond, Indiana recently caused major concerns about air quality in the area. While the fire has diminished, the incident is an important reminder about air quality and asthma for residents statewide.
“The aftereffects of the fire may continue to put health at risk for those living close to the recycling center,” said Courtney Stewart, who leads 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 (CTSI) and the Indiana Department of Health.
“This unfortunate incident in Richmond makes it even more important for the residents of the state, particularly those who live with asthma, like me, to be aware of the many resources that our coalition offers,” Stewart said. “For example, we can help with asthma action plans, which are short written plans that you develop with your doctor to help manage your asthma. An asthma action plan is crucial during environmental action days and when situations like the fire in Richmond occur.”
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma is the leading chronic condition in the United States. Approximately 25 million Americans have asthma, or about 1 in 13 people. In Indiana, about 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 15 children have asthma. 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,” Stewart said. “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.”
InJAC was 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. Resources for residents with asthma provided by InJAC include:
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 at email@example.com. For more information on InJAC and other chronic disease coalitions in Indiana, contact Connections IN Health at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit indianactsi.org/community/initiatives.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Christina is the media relations specialist for the IU School of Medicine Dean's Office of Strategic Communications.