RAHC celebrates Asthma Awareness Month; EPA sponsors training

Asthma is becoming more common in both children and adults.

In the United States alone, 6.2 million children suffer from asthma, which accounts for one-third of all pediatric emergency room visits. Asthma is the fourth-most-common reason for pediatric physician office visits, and is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. Asthma affects more than 1 million adults and children in Texas, according to the American Lung Association.

In response to these alarming statistics, and in an effort to raise public awareness of the risks faced every day by 20 million Americans living with asthma, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) is joining the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to participate in Asthma Awareness Month and World Asthma Day. The Health Science Center RAHC’s Environmental Medicine Program is holding “How the Environment Affects Children’s Health: Asthma Triggers, Lead and Other Culprits,” a training program for the region’s health professionals (physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physician assistants, social workers) and also a separate program geared for Harlingen Independent School District students in grades five through eight and their parents.

The workshop geared to youngsters is from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, May 5, at the Medical Education Division of the RAHC, 2102 Treasure Hills Blvd. in Harlingen. The workshop for health professionals is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the same location.

Both days of programs are free and open those who register. Call (956) 365-8811 for more information or to register. A light lunch will be provided to the children and their families May 5. Free door prizes will be awarded.

Health professionals are eligible for free continuing education units upon completion of the May 6 program.

The sessions for children will include these hands-on breakout sessions:

* Children and parents viewing preserved pig lungs that have been exposed to tobacco smoke and comparing them to preserved “clean” lungs;

* Attendees learning how to test products such as pottery and candy for lead content;

* “Glow Germ” toys showing children how allergens are spread – the toys are coated with a glowing substance that leaves residue on their hands that is visible in black light, even after washing.

All across the world, events are being held in May as part of Asthma Awareness Month. The nation is encouraged to join The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the EPA in Harlingen this week. It is one of many events nationwide to raise awareness about indoor and outdoor pollutants that trigger asthma and ways to prevent children’s asthma episodes.

For more information on EPA’s Asthma Program and Asthma Awareness Month, log on towww.epa.gov/asthma.

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