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PSCIP Partner Profile: Pennsylvania Asthma Partnership Program - March 2010

Posted: March 18, 2010

In urban areas of Pennsylvania, asthma rates are rising, affecting one out of every ten people. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that, for many individuals, can be controlled by avoiding “triggers” such as cockroaches, mice, pesticides and other allergens.

The Philadelphia School and Community IPM Partnership (PSCIP) is working to educate residents on reducing allergies and asthma triggers in homes, schools and childcare centers by promoting less-risky methods of controlling indoor pests. To that end, PSCIP has partnered with the Pennsylvania Asthma Partnership (PAP), funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and managed by the American Lung Association.

According to Sara Lewis, PAP program specialist, the partnership is revising the 2006 Pennsylvania Asthma Action Plan, whose goal is to reduce the burden of asthma in Pennsylvania residents. “We asked PSCIP to assist us in this process by participating in of the environment and the workplace workgroup,” She explains. “The action plan is funded and guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The 2006 Asthma Action Plan currently has six main components, including reducing environmental asthma triggers in the workplace and increasing asthma education, especially for minorities and other underserved and vulnerable populations in the state.”

Environmental factors that can trigger asthma and asthma symptoms include pests, such as cockroaches and mice, pest by-products such as cast skins, feces and urine, as well as some of the pesticides often used to get rid of pests. According to Lewis, indoor air quality has a big effect on asthma sufferers, especially children who spend up to 90% of their time indoors at home, school, and in childcare facilities.

PAP is currently taking suggestions to revise the state asthma action plan, to be published in 2011. To share your ideas email all suggestions, along with full contact information to info@PAasthma.org.  You may also visit PAP’s website at www.PAasthma.org to find further information on asthma and the State Asthma Action Plan.

Eight years ago, the Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management Program (PA IPM) at Penn State began looking for community-based solutions to manage pests effectively and safely in indoor environments and formed the Philadelphia School and Community IPM Partnership (PSCIP). PSCIP members include community groups, schools and child development centers, tenant groups, environmental groups, health professionals, pest control professionals, university staff and city and state agencies. For more information on pests and pesticides and their effects on public health, visit the PA IPM Program’s Web site at http://paipm.org/ and click on ‘Public Health’. For more information on PSCIP, including meeting minutes, partners in the initiative, and current and future activities, visit Web site http://www.pscip.org/. Or, contact Michelle Niedermeier, PSCIP coordinator, at the Philadelphia IPM office,  (215) 471-2200, ext. 109, or e-mail pscip@psu.edu.