All communities in California will benefit from schools, child care centers, workplaces, homes, and institutional facilities that meet the needs of people with asthma and provide, to the greatest extent possible, indoor spaces, and adjacent environments that are free from air pollutants, allergens, and chemicals and irritants that cause or exacerbate asthma.
Few chronic diseases are affected by environment or "place" as much as asthma. In California, people spend an average of 87 percent of their time indoors. Exposure to asthma triggers, lung sensitivity, and severity of symptoms are influenced by where individuals live, work, attend school and child care, or otherwise spend time indoors. In some cases, these environments can also impact access to care, treatment, and management of the disease. Socioeconomic factors may limit the extent to which environmental triggers can be controlled. Policies and practices within these settings can also impact the ability of individuals to effectively control their asthma.
California already has in place numerous laws, regulations, and codes at both the state and local levels that protect against exposure to certain substances associated with asthma, such as smoke-free policies in schools and work settings.* However, enforcement of these laws remains a significant challenge for municipalities. In addition, many settings still do not have specific laws to limit exposure to respiratory irritants; for example, no laws require smoke-free multi-unit housing or foster care. Rental housing, alternative residential settings like group and nursing homes, and correctional, and mental health institutions present particular challenges to creating asthma-friendly environments. As a result, people with asthma may experience periods of impaired work or learning, restricted activity, and increased health care utilization and costs.
Goal 4 separately addresses schools; child care facilities; homes, housing, and institutional-care settings; and workplaces. Objectives and strategies are targeted to meet the needs of people with asthma in each distinct environment. Emphasis is placed on having appropriate policies and procedures, as well as properly trained personnel in place to ensure the health and well-being of people with asthma. In addition, great attention is focused on ensuring that allergens and irritants that contribute to asthma are eliminated or substantially reduced.