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Don’t Let Asthma Spoil the Fun

2009 May 7

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, my husband and I took the kids kite flying to El Morro Fort in San Juan. Our three year-old marveled at the hundreds of kites in the sky and flew his with our help. But what caught his attention and gave him the most thrills throughout the sunny afternoon was rolling down the hills that surround the El Morro’s esplanade. Soon he forgot about his colorful kite and left his father and sister to enjoy the afternoon while I watched him roll in the grass. By Sunday morning all fun had disappeared from his face as he had developed a full blown asthma attack. While trying to pinpoint what had been the trigger and reviewing our daily routine, only one thing stood out: rolling on the grass. I know that mold, strong odors, second hand smoke and Sahara dust particles can trigger an asthma attack in my son, but I was dumbfounded this time. After some research I found out that nearly 80% of adults and children with asthma are allergic to trees, pollen and grass. While browsing for information I stumbled upon EPA’s Asthma Research Strategy where scientists study and develop an understanding of exposure, health effects, risk assessment, and risk management of indoor and outdoor environmental pollutants linked to asthma. This site was very helpful since it provides additional resources and publications related to projects supported by EPA. Among the studies that caught my attention were those that linked susceptibility and genetic factors with environmental exposures.

Even though I have identified most indoor triggers, and EPA provides a great wealth of information in that area, I was working on identifying outdoor environmental stressors. My search yielded the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health site. One interesting, but simple thing I learned on its website was to avoid outdoor activities on windy days. That made perfect sense since February through April is the windy or “kite” season in Puerto Rico. I also learned that most common grasses can trigger an allergic reaction in asthma patients. Now armed with this new information I can work better on identifying other outdoor environmental asthma stressors for my child.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. Rebecca Kaspar permalink
    May 7, 2009

    My younger daughter was very vulnerable to getting croup whenever she came down with a “cold/flu.” The first time she had croup symptoms, at 14 months old, we had been to the park and she was crawling around in the grass. At the time I noticed she was getting a runny nose and suspected she was getting a cold. She was hospilalized two days later having difficulty breathing. I found that when ever she was getting cold/flu symtoms I made sure she avoided grass. It made a big difference in how severe her condition would progress and how quickly she would recover.

  2. wallace smith permalink
    May 11, 2009

    great post sir..
    thanks for sharing. really helped a lot here.

  3. Amrita permalink
    June 27, 2009

    Asthma can’t be cured. Even when you feel fine, you still have the disease and it can flare up at any time.

    But with today’s knowledge and treatments, most people who have asthma are able to manage the disease. They can live normal, active lives and sleep through the night without interruption from asthma.

    For successful and ongoing treatment, take an active role in managing your disease. Build strong partnerships with your doctor and other clinicians on your health care team.

    With Regards

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