Atlanta Named 2007 "Asthma Capital"

The "A" in Atlanta might as well stand for asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

The nonprofit patient organization says that for asthma sufferers, Atlanta is the worst U.S. city to live in.

Seattle ranks best -- or, in this case, least bad -- on the group's list of the 100 "most challenging places to live with asthma."

The 10 worst asthma cities, according to the AAFA, are:

1. Atlanta (last year: 4th)
2. Philadelphia (last year: 3rd)
3. Raleigh, N.C.
4. Knoxville, Tenn.
5. Harrisburg, Pa.
6. Grand Rapids, Mich.
7. Milwaukee, Wis. (last year: 5th)
8. Greensboro, N.C. (last year: 7th)
9. Scranton, Pa. (last year: 1st)
10. Little Rock, Ark.

Atlanta earns its "worst" score from the city's high asthma death rate, high pollen levels, and severe air pollution.

The AAFA also cites Atlanta's "worse-than-average" public smoking laws, although the city does ban smoking in 80% of hotel rooms and in bars and restaurants that allow access to minors (except in private, separately ventilated rooms).

The idea behind the ranking is to warn Americans that across the nation, asthma rates continue to climb.

Growing Problem

In the last 20 years, asthma prevalence has doubled, says Derek Johnson, MD, director of pediatric allergy at Temple University, in a news release.

"People can't just move away from their asthma since every city in America has a variety of risk factors," Johnson says.

Indeed, even Seattle flunks some AAFA tests. The city gets "worse than average" scores in asthma prevalence and only "average" ratings for air quality, uninsured rates, school inhaler-access laws, and number of asthma specialists.

"People should work with an asthma specialist to have a good asthma management plan no matter where they live," Johnson says.
100 Worst Cities

Here's the complete 2007 AAFA list of the 100 most challenging places to live with asthma:

1. Atlanta
2. Philadelphia
3. Raleigh, N.C.
4. Knoxville, Tenn.
5. Harrisburg, Pa.
6. Grand Rapids, Mich.
7. Milwaukee, Wis.
8. Greensboro, N.C.
9. Scranton, Pa.
10. Little Rock, Ark.
11. San Antonio
12. Los Angeles
13. Chicago
14. Charlotte, N.C.
15. Fresno, Calif.
16. Allentown, Pa.
17. Birmingham, Ala.
18. Baltimore
19. Mobile, Ala.
20. Detroit
21. Lancaster, Pa.
22. Johnson City, Tenn.
23. Pittsburgh
24. Oklahoma City
25. Tulsa, Okla.
26. Chattanooga, Tenn.
27. McAllen, Texas
28. St. Louis
29. Hartford, Conn.
30. Memphis, Tenn.
31. Fort Wayne, Ind.
32. Bakersfield, Calif.
33. Salt Lake City
34. Greenville, S.C.
35. Kalamazoo, Mich.
36. Dallas-Ft. Worth
37. Boston
38. Houston
39. Modesto, Calif.
40. Richmond, Va.
41. Augusta, Ga.
42. El Paso, Texas
43. Indianapolis
44. Phoenix-Mesa
45. Wichita, Kan.
46. Louisville, Ky.
47. Austin, Texas
48. Columbia, S.C.
49. Las Vegas
50. Lansing, Mich.
51. Stockton, Calif.
52. Washington, D.C.
53. Norfolk, Va.
54. Toledo, Ohio
55. Springfield, Mass.
56. Kansas City, Mo.
57. Albuquerque, N.M.
58. Columbus, Ohio
59. Nashville, Tenn.
60. New York
61. Providence, R.I.
62. Youngstown, Ohio
63. San Diego
64. Sacramento, Calif.
65. Buffalo, N.Y.
66. Cleveland
67. Charleston, S.C.
68. Syracuse, N.Y.
69. Cincinnati
70. Dayton, Ohio
71. Albany, N.Y.
72. Des Moines, Iowa
73. Rochester, N.Y.
74. Lexington, Ky.
75. Portland, Ore.
76. Pensacola, Fla.
77. Jackson, Miss.
78. Denver
79. Canton, Ohio
80. Tampa, Fla.
81. Tucson, Ariz.
82. Omaha, Neb.
83. Madison, Wis.
84. New Orleans
85. Jacksonville, Fla.
86. Orlando, Fla.
87. Baton Rouge, La.
88. Boise City, Idaho
89. Spokane, Wash
90. Lakeland, Fla.
91. San Francisco
92. Daytona Beach, Fla.
93. Fort Myers, Fla.
94. Sarasota, Fla.
95. Colorado Springs, Colo.
96. Melbourne, Fla.
97. West Palm Beach, Fla.
98. Miami
99. Minneapolis
100. Seattle

SOURCES: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "2007 Asthma Capitals -- The Most Challenging Places to Live with Asthma," AAFA web site. American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation web site. News release, AAFA.

By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario