September 29, By Tara Law
Two bills were introduced in the City Council this week by Councilman Costa Costantinides that aim to combat asthma, an issue of particular concern for many western Queens residents given the high number of pollution-emitting power plants in the area.
One bill would require schools to have nebulizers on hand with nurses trained to use them. The other bill would require the Department of Health to conduct an annual report on the prevalence of asthma and asthma-related hospitalizations, aggregated by demography, including age, race and geography.
Constantinides, citing Department of Health data, said that 80,000 New York City children have asthma, and 7,000 children are hospitalized for the illness annually.
Children with severe asthma can miss up to 30 days of school, according to Health Dept data. However, Constantinides said that number would be lower if children could get asthma treatment at school instead of having to go home or to hospital.
“Equipping public schools with appropriate medical devices including nebulizers will give kids in distress from asthma the critical treatment that they need,” said Constantinides. “Data and knowledge about the prevalence of asthma will help families be aware of asthma risk so children can get screened early if necessary.”
Many residents in western Queens are particularly vulnerable to asthma since 50 percent of the city’s power is produced in the area.
Health Dept. research indicates that there is a higher rate of hospitalization for respiratory illnesses, include asthma, among communities near large pollutions sources such as power plants.