Asthma's Love/Hate Relationship with Air Quality

Like any relationship, there are good days and bad days. When air quality is poor, asthma conditions can worsen.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), nearly 25 million American suffer from asthma and are, consequently, in a love/hate relationship with air quality (

Defining the Relationship--the Oklahoma Way

Relationship Status

In 2010, 274,700 Oklahomans reported current asthma which is a condition that can be directly influenced by local air quality.

Of these reported cases, 1 out 3 people (29.8%) were unable to work or carry out usual activities at least one day during the past 12 months because of their asthma.1 out of 2 people (57.3%) reported they had an asthma attack during the past 12 months.

Based on air pollution concentrations, number of ozone days, pollen counts, medication utilization, poverty rates, and public smoking laws, Oklahoma City ranked fifth on the AAFA's "Top 10 Asthma Capitals" for 2013.

  1. Richmond, Virginia
  2. Chattanooga, Tennessee
  3. Memphis, Tennessee
  4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  6. Detroit, Michigan
  7. Dayton, Ohio
  8. McAllen, Texas
  9. Atlanta, Georgia
  10. Knoxville, Tennessee

In 2012, Oklahoma City ranked 8th on AAFA's "Top 10 Asthma Capitals".

In addition to receiving a 5th place ranking by AAFA, Oklahoma City was given a worse than average designation for asthma prevalance, self-reported ashtma prevalence, annual pollen score, 100% public smoke-free laws, unisured rate, ER visits for asthma, use of quick relief meds, and use of control meds. Oklahoma City received an average designation for crude death rate for asthma, air quality, poverty rate, and number of respiratory specialists.

In the summer of 2012, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality issued 90 Air Quality Health Advisories to notify citizens pollutant concentrations were unhealthy.

Fortunately, there are ways to monitor air quality conditions before health advisories are issued:

1. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a daily public report based on the previous day's monitored pollutant concentrations. It is also used to predict levels of specific types of air pollutants.

2. An Ozone Watch is a prediction that concentrations of ozone will approach levels of concern over the next 24 hours.

Handling the Occasional Upsets in the Relationship

When air quality is poor...

Improving the Relationship

The love aspect of the asthma and air quality relationship can be strengthened over time by following these simple suggestions:

It's important to invest time and put forth effort to improve the relationship. One way to do this is to set up an asthma management plan.


Getting along with asthma is much easier when you stay in touch with air quality.