New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

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What is Asthma?

Asthma symptoms may include repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, tightness in the chest, and coughing.  Asthma episodes can be caused by a variety of factors: pollen, pet dander, mold, cockroach allergens, dust mites, tobacco smoke, air pollution, strenuous exercise, weather, and some foods and drugs.

How Does Asthma Affect Human Health?

People with asthma can experience acute episodes where the small airways constrict. These episodes may result in symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and chest tightness.

In New Jersey, over 500,000 adults and over 200,000 children currently have asthma.  Asthma affects all races, ages and genders.  More boys have asthma than girls, but in adulthood, more women are diagnosed with asthma than men.  Blacks, Hispanics and urban residents are more likely to be affected with asthma symptoms, as are individuals with a family history of the disease.

What is Being Done to Protect Human Health?

In recognition of asthma as a significant public health issue, the New Jersey Department of Health in 2000 established an asthma awareness program.  The Asthma Awareness and Education Program (AAEP) is located within the Division of Family Health Services/Chronic Disease and Prevention Service Unit.  The program focuses on improving the health of people living and/or working in New Jersey by prevention, identification and management of asthma, through a partnership among public and private organizations.

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