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Fight Against Asthma Gets $123,000 Boost from EPA

Release Date: 02/09/2006
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(#06017) SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - Advancing its fight against asthma, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today gave grants totaling over $123,000 to the University of Turabo and the University of Puerto Rico to launch asthma intervention programs. Recent data suggests that nearly 20% of all adults in Puerto Rico suffer from asthma and in some areas of Puerto Rico, half of the children end up in the emergency room annually with asthma attacks. Puerto Rico has the highest rate of death, highest rate of hospitalization and emergency room visits due to asthma in the U.S.

“With an asthma rate that is nearly twice as high as that of New York or New Jersey, Puerto Rico really needs assistance to help it address this dramatic public health problem,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “Some of the most effective ways to combat these attacks especially among children, are to build awareness, educate and take pro-active steps to improve people’s health.”

EPA’s grant will be used for projects that are tailored specifically to the needs of Puerto Rico. The money will be used to fund educational efforts, including a creative educational campaign for children featuring Asmerlin, the Asthma Magician. The program will provide internet tools for school children and train healthcare workers and school personnel in better ways to reach out to people who are most vulnerable to asthma. The money will be used to teach them that asthma is a controllable disease and motivate them to reduce indoor asthma triggers in homes and schools.

Puerto Ricans have the highest asthma incidence rate among all Hispanics. A 2003 Centers for Disease Control study showed that asthma leads to death in Puerto Rico at a rate that is several times higher than the U.S. national rate. There is no cure for asthma, but there are steps that people can take to reduce its severity.

Asthma sufferers should:

  • Talk to a doctor
  • Learn what triggers their asthma attacks
  • Asthma-proof their homes
For more details on these points and other helpful tips about asthma, please visit: and

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