About the Program
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The Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch of the National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) leads CDC’s fight against environmental-related respiratory illnesses, including asthma, and studies indoor and outdoor air pollution.
CDC’s asthma program focuses on three main activities:
- surveillance: collecting and analyzing data on an ongoing basis to understand when, where, and in whom asthma occurs;
- implementing scientifically proven interventions: ensuring that scientific information is translated into public health practices and programs to reduce the burden of asthma; and
- establishing and maintaining partnerships: ensuring that all stakeholders have the opportunity to be involved in developing, implementing, and evaluating local asthma control programs.
This same approach of research-based intervention conducted in partnership with international, national, and local partners is applied to CDC’s work in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, studying the health effects of exposure to forest fire smoke, and investigating human health effects of poor air quality.
In conjunction with the National Center for Health Statistics and the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch supports a number of major asthma data collection efforts, including:
- collection of state-level adult asthma prevalence rates for detailed subgroups in 50 states, 3 territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands), and the District of Columbia, through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey;
- collection of data on asthma attacks, asthma management, days of work or school lost, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations due to asthma through the National Health Interview Survey; and
- collection of asthma management and control data through development of a National Asthma Survey. This survey is currently implemented as a state-based call-back survey through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
CDC’s National Asthma Control Program was created in 1999 to support the goals and objectives of Healthy People 2010.
CDC funds state health departments in 23 states to develop asthma control plans that include disease tracking, intervention, and occupational components. Additionally, CDC partners with major non-governmental agencies such as the American Lung Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics to support asthma control activities such as adult educational programs and addressing asthma control through school health programs.
CDC works with government and non-governmental agencies and organizations worldwide to conduct research and surveillance and to develop training materials, educational information, and innovative methods to address respiratory health problems associated with air pollution. Through these efforts CDC helps local and state governments and private agencies inform the public about the health effects of air pollution and provides people with accurate and useful information about steps they can take to protect their health.