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The Breath of Fresh Air Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, later today I will be introducing the Breath of Fresh Air Act. This legislation would establish a grant program to make funds available to elementary and secondary schools to purchase nebulizers. I am proud to be joined by Congresswoman ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON as an original co-sponsor, and I urge my colleagues to join me as a co-sponsor.

A nebulizer is an extremely effective and easy-to-use medical device used to treat asthma attacks. It delivers the medicine in the form of a mist directly to the person's lungs and is the best remedy for young children who may not cooperate in their time of distress. This bill authorizes funding to purchase nebulizers as well as to provide training to school personnel who administer the nebulizers.

Mr. Speaker, across the United States, nearly 25 million people have been diagnosed with asthma, including almost 7 million children. That means on average one out of every 10 school-age children suffers from the shortness of breath, chest pain, and airway restrictions that are common symptoms of asthma. This serious disease impacts every district in every state, and its effects are far-reaching.

Low-income and minority communities are disproportionately affected by this chronic respiratory disease, and their health outcomes are likely to be worse.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that black children are twice as likely to be hospitalized and four times as likely to die from asthma as white children. Low-income and minority communities also disproportionately live in areas afflicted with high levels of air pollution, allergens, and other environmental factors that trigger asthma attacks. They may also have limited resources to put towards asthma management or to deal with the financial challenges of medical bills and missed days at school and work.

I have been particularly concerned with this issue, as it affects my home district in California. The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angles operate within and near the 37th Congressional District, and if left unregulated, the California Air Resources Board estimates that the ports will be the largest source of pollution in the state by 2020--greater than the impact of every car on the road in California. The neighborhoods of Los Angeles and Long Beach also rank as one of the U.S. cities most polluted by Particle Pollution. Exposure to air pollution such as this can be dangerous for children whose lungs are still developing, and it increases the risk of emergency room visits for asthma attacks.

The purpose of this grant program is to provide schools with the equipment to treat asthma attacks as soon as symptoms present themselves, and without contributing to the nearly 2 million asthma-related emergency room visits each year. School personnel, particularly school nurses, play an invaluable role in detecting early symptoms and administering a quick medical response in emergency situations. This grant program would be a way to support their efforts even as schools face budget cuts. It will ensure that they have access to all possible resources and can properly assist the students and families with the full range of asthma management decisions.

I also want to acknowledge the indispensable work of my able staff members, Anna Bartels and Gregory Berry, in developing this important legislation.

I would also like to submit into the Record a letter of support from the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics, and I thank them for their hard work to ease suffering from asthma, allergies, and other related conditions.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in support of the Breath of Fresh Air Act. Let us work together to make schools a healthy and safe place for children.

Allergy and Asthma Network,

Mothers of Asthmatics,

McLean, VA, August 2, 2012.

Hon. LAURA RICHARDSON,

1330 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC.

DEAR REPRESENTATIVE RICHARDSON: Founded in 1985 by families for families, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) is the leading national nonprofit family organization dedicated to eliminating death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions.

AANMA supports the ``Breath of Fresh Air Act'' which would provide student access to nebulizers at school for use with their prescribed medications.

Working together with 28 organizations, AANMA led the nationwide effort to ensure students have the right to carry and self-administer their lifesaving inhalers and auto-injectable epinephrine during the school day. Today 50 states protect that right for students with asthma and 49 states protect students' rights to carry their auto-injectable epinephrine.

While students can carry and self-administer their inhalers, in some cases students may best be served by inhaling these medications via the nebulizer.

We support the ``Breath of Fresh Air Act'' and look forward to its passage.

Sincerely,

Nancy Sander,

President and Founder.


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