Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the lungs and can make it difficult to breathe. Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. Although there is no cure, people with asthma can control their disease and live healthy, active lives.
To address the serious health challenges that asthma poses, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) coordinates partners in a statewide effort to reduce the burden of asthma on the Commonwealth’s residents. Additionally, MDPH has organized its efforts into three initiatives:
Asthma Prevention and Control (APCP) works to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents with asthma, and to reduce disparities in asthma outcomes. APCP also works to reduce exposure to asthma triggers and irritants in homes, licensed childcare centers, schools, workplaces, and senior centers. We support the use of community health worker-led asthma home visits to improve asthma outcomes through the provision of resources and technical assistance around these interventions. The APCP provides Asthma Action Plans for children and adults in seven languages.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by certain environmental factors such as air pollution, mold, pets/pet dander, and dust mites in the environment. The Bureau of Environmental Health (BEH) provides information about asthma and the environment and helps to educate the public about the variety of environmental exposures that can trigger asthma attacks. BEH conducts annual asthma surveillance of children ages 5-14 by gender, grade, school, and community in Massachusetts. Most recent annual reports can be located at the Environmental Public Health Tracking website: www.mass.gov/dph/matracking.
Asthma may be caused or made worse by exposures in the workplace, such as cleaning chemicals, wheat flour, mold, wood dusts, isocyanates in spray polyurethane foam, and many others. In Massachusetts, all healthcare providers are required to report suspected cases of work-related asthma (WRA) to the MDPH Occupational Health Surveillance Program (see Occupational Disease and Injury Mandated Reporting below). Data on WRA provide important information about the industries and occupations where workers are at risk and about workplace exposures that need to be addressed. Additional information can be found via the links below or at www.mass.gov/dph/workrelatedasthma.