In line with National Asthma Awareness Month, the Boston City Council took a bold step to improve public health in the city passing hearing orders to address high asthma rates. Boston City Councilor At-Large Felix G. Arroyo, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Asthma, along with Councilor Salvatore LaMattina,Vice-Chair of the Committee, introduced a series of hearing orders at the last Council meeting aimed at battling alarming rates of asthma in the city.
Councilor Arroyo stated, “Being a life-long asthmatic, asthma is personal to me. As a child, I spent so many nights at the emergency room at Faulkner Hospital that I knew the staff by first name. However, my story is not particular to me. It is a story that is all too common in our City.”
According to the City of Boston Public Health Commission’s Health of Boston 2010 Report, 10% of adults and 11% of high school students have asthma. Children under the age of 5 are four times more likely to be hospitalized because of asthma. Children’s Hospital Boston reported asthma as the leading rate of hospitalizations.
The hearing orders were crafted by the Asthma Task Force that Councilors Arroyo and LaMattina created to identify key asthma issues to address in 2011. As a result of these meetings, the hearing orders concentrate on usage of green cleaning supplies in all municipal buildings, integrated pest management, smoke-free public housing, and reducing truck emissions on construction sites.
Participants of the Asthma Task Force are encouraged by the Special Committee’s work. Mary White, Parent Asthma Leader with the Strengthening Voices Program, stated, “I cannot begin to tell you how important it is that City Councilor Arroyo developed a Special Committee on Asthma and introduced these hearing orders. Being the mother of three asthmatic children, I have learned the importance of a healthy environment at home and school.”
The rate of asthma in North Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, the South End, and West Roxbury exceed the citywide adult average, demonstrating that asthma is an epidemic throughout the city of Boston regardless of neighborhood.
Vice-Chair Salvatore LaMattina stated, “I look forward to continuing our work with Councilor Arroyo on the Committee and the Asthma Task Force. We are using the research gathered from 2010 to recommend a plan of action so young Bostonians will not have to suffer the health troubles associated with this condition.”
“Residents throughout the city have either been directly impacted by this chronic disease or know a loved one, friend, colleague, or neighbor who suffers from asthma. I am eager to advance the work I have begun with Councilor LaMattina and the Asthma Task Force on policies regarding the health hazards asthma creates for all Boston residents,” Councilor Arroyo stated.