Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016
Presentations Will Include Results of AHN Study on Asthma in Pittsburgh-area Schoolchildren, Keynote Address on Health Impacts of Urban Living
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Leading asthma experts will gather Thursday, May 5 in Pittsburgh to explore the impact regional air quality has on asthmatic disease in the Pittsburgh community. “The Air We Breathe: A Regional Summit on Asthma in Our Community,” presented by Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and The Breathe Project of The Heinz Endowments, runs from 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.
AHN’s Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) and The Breathe Project have partnered since 2012 to bring together internationally leading experts on the health impacts of air pollution to address the latest scientific information and raise further awareness about this public health issue. The Summit is free and open to the public, and members of the media are invited to attend.
A highlight of this year’s Summit will be a presentation by Deborah Gentile, MD, Director of Allergy and Asthma Clinical Research in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at AHN, on findings from a recently completed study of asthma prevalence, severity and risk factors among local school children. The Breathe Project funded Dr. Gentile’s pilot study of 267 fifth-grade students from 12 Pittsburgh-area schools. She will make her presentation, “Impact of Air Quality on Asthma Outcomes in Our Region’s Schoolchildren,” at 9 a.m.
The keynote speaker at the Summit is Michael Brauer, ScD, a professor of medicine at The University of British Columbia who sits on the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Climate and Clear Air Coalition (CCAC), part of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Dr. Brauer specializes in the assessment of exposure and health impacts of air pollution, particularly transportation-related and biomass air pollution. His keynote address, “Health Impacts of Urban Living,” is scheduled for 10:15 to 11:15 a.m.
“Pittsburgh certainly has come a long way from the place where the streetlights infamously would come on during the daytime because the air was so heavy and dark from pollution, but much work remains to be done,” said Dr. Gentile. “Pittsburgh’s particulate matter pollution is among the worst 15 percent of cities in the United States, and particulate matter pollution is tied to multiple illnesses, including asthma. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation has ranked Pittsburgh as the 27th-most challenging U.S. city to live with asthma. Events like the Summit are important to ensure we are working together to develop the best possible solutions to the asthma epidemic.”
Other topics and presenters at the Summit will include:
• “Air Quality in Pittsburgh and Environmental Health Challenges” – 8:10 a.m., Philip Johnson, MPH, PhD, Program Director for Science and Environment and Director of The Breathe Project at The Heinz Endowments
• “Developing Air Quality Guidance Criteria for Urban Planners: How Model Cities Can Make a Difference” – 8:30 a.m., Norman Anderson, MSPH, environmental public health consultant
• “Call to Action: Working Together for Clean Air in the Region” – 11:15 a.m., Thurman Brendlinger, MBA, Program Director, Clean Air Council and Margaret Sammon Parsons, PhD, Healthy Air Campaign Coordinator, American Lung Association in PA
Nearly 25 million Americans, and more than 9 percent of children, suffer from asthma. It accounts for 25 percent of all emergency room visits and 3,300 deaths yearly, many of which could be avoided with proper treatment and care.