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Asthma patients ask for real commitment for healthy air indoors and outdoors

Brussels, 2nd May 2017, WORLD ASTHMA DAY – Air pollution is unhealthy. While 10 times more people are killed by air pollution than by road accidents in the EU, dirty air is particularly affecting patients with respiratory diseases, like allergy, asthma and COPD.[1]

Under the theme ‘Better Air, Better Breathing’, patients are celebrating the World Asthma Day to raise awareness about this disease that affects 30 million people in Europe.

The European Union norms protecting our health from air pollution are less strict than the recommendations made in 2005 by the World Health Organisation.[2] About 90% of Europeans living in cities are exposed to harmful levels of air pollution (fine particulate matter, PM 2.5), this caused 467,000 premature deaths in the year 2013 alone.[3]

EFA President Mikaela Odemyr said: “The rise of allergy, asthma and COPD is intimately linked to the quality of the air people breathe in. We have been advocating through EFA for stronger air quality legislation at European level with some satisfactory results like stricter pollution levels by 2030 for more pollutants, but local and national authorities should prioritise air quality compliance into their policies, and to respect the levels set”.[4][5]

Despite continued warnings, many EU Members States continue to breach EU rules on air quality. Bulgaria has been already found guilty by the Court of Justice of the EU for systematic and constant exceeding of EU norms on fine particulate matter over its whole country, and Poland is currently facing a case in front of the Court.[6] [7]

While air quality information remains very limited in terms of real-time updates and pollutants measured –pollen and air quality indoors are not systematically monitored–, asthma patients are now perceiving how technological developments can help avoiding exposure to high levels of air pollution and therefore avoid stronger symptoms.[8]

MyAirCoach is a three-year project funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme to build a mobile application that, connected to a multi-sensor based inhaler, will measure not only the asthma patient condition and symptoms real-time, but will also provide patients and healthcare professionals with information about air quality around the patient. This will be possible thanks to a second sensing component that monitors environmental factors that trigger asthma, such as particulate matter (PM) and air pollution, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ambient sulphur dioxide (SO2).[9]

The new paper published by myAirCoach Advisory Patient Forum describes how patients and healthcare professionals are strong supporters of mobile health tools for the self-management of asthma, and how this technology helps monitoring the environment to avoid asthma triggers.[10]

Patient advocate Martine Puhl is advising on the development of myAirCoach “Asthma is a tricky disease as many times you do not know why you are getting worst. Just having the possibility to immediately evaluate your symptoms and assess what might be going wrong directly with your doctor thanks to the app will change my life as a patient, as I will be really managing asthma and not the other way around”.

There are other tools enabling citizens, patients or not, to measure the air quality they are breathing in those areas with limited or unreliable information. The Unmask My City campaign, supported by EFA, is using AirBeam, a pocket air quality monitoring device that measures PM2.5 levels through a mobile phone application.[11]

Notes to editors:

The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) is a network of 41 allergy, asthma and COPD patients’ organisations in 25 European countries and it works for European patients with allergy, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to live uncompromised lives, have the right and access to the best quality care and a safe environment.

For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. +32 (0) 2 227 2712

[1] Air pollution reduces lung function, irritates nose and throat, causes wheezing, coughing, pain and breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure includes changes in mortality patterns and diseases incidence and prevalence.

[2] The World Health Organisation (WHO) Air quality guidelines (2005) recommend countries to adopt lower maximum levels of pollutant exposure: http://www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair/outdoorair_aqg/en/

[3] European Environmental Agency Air Quality in Europe report (2016): http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/air-quality-in-europe-2016 and The Global Burden of Disease Study (2012): http://thelancet.com/gbd http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/air-quality-in-europe-2016

[4] The APHEKOM study (Improving Knowledge and Communication for Decision Making on Air Pollution and Health in Europe) found out that living near polluted roads could be responsible for an estimate 15-30% of all new cases of asthma in children; and of COPD in adults 65 years and above.

[5] EFA’s advocacy work on air quality: http://www.efanet.org/air-quality/air-pollution

[6] European Commission fact sheet: Commission warns GERMANY, FRANCE, SPAIN, ITALY and the UNITED KINGDOM of continued air pollution breaches (15 February 2017): http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-17-234_en.htm

[7]European Commission Press Release: Commission refers POLAND to the Court of Justice of the EU over poor air quality (15 December 2015): http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-6225_en.htm

[8] EU legislation requires Member States to ensure that up-to-date information on ambient concentrations of the different pollutants is routinely made available to the public as well as to other organisations. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/legislation/public_info.htm

[9] Myaircoach.eu

[10] ‘Perspectives of patients and healthcare professionals on mHealth for asthma self-management: a mixed methods research study to develop a user-centred system’. European Respiratory Journal, 2nd May 2017, http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/49/5/1601966

[11] Unmask My City is a global campaign led by the Global Climate and Health Alliance: http://unmaskmycity.org/en/ [LIVE from 2nd May 2017]