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Your Environment. Your Health.

Aggravating Factors of Asthma in Hispanic Farm Workers

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

NIEHS Grant: R21ES017906

Community-Academic Partners
University of Washington: Catherine Karr, M.D., Ph.D.  
Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic: www.yvfwc.com   
Northwest Community Education Center and KDNA 91.9 FM: www.kdna.org/community_services.htm    
Heritage University: www.heritage.edu 

workers picking in a field

Asthma, a major public health problem with increasing incidence, is among the leading chronic diseases of children in the United States. There has been limited asthma research in rural populations, and farm workers' children in particular. Because morbidity by asthma is disproportionately high in farm workers' children, public health advocates are interested in expanding asthma research to include ambient outdoor triggers. An ongoing community-academic partnership called Proyecto Bienstar — The Well Being Project — will provide information needed to optimize asthma health among farm workers' children. Proyecto Bienstar is a collaboration of researchers at the University of Washington, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, the Northwest Community Education Center and its affiliate KDNA radio, and Heritage University.

Rather than focus on rural-urban differences in asthma prevalence, the goal of this project is to identify environmental factors, such as pesticides, agricultural dusts, and pollen, that trigger asthma in rural, farm working populations. The research team will use innovative sampling technologies, cell phones for regular patient contact, and GIS technology to collect information that will empower patients, clinical providers, local health jurisdictions, and the public to create strategies to control, eliminate, or avoid exposures to asthma triggers.

The partners will:

  • Identify a cohort of clinically confirmed asthmatic children and follow the status of their asthma for 30 months.
  • Map the locations and times of asthma episodes.
  • Map of the location and times of the agricultural activities that may trigger asthma.
  • Overlay asthma episodes and agricultural activities to create a list of potential triggers.
  • Collect samples for suspected triggers to confirm the nature of the exposure.
  • Compare measured concentrations of triggers to new asthma episodes.

This partnership will translate findings into an educational outreach program aired on Radio KDNA, and deliver a curriculum on the management of rural asthmatics to the farm workers' clinic and their Asthma Outreach Program health workers. A multifaceted evaluation will assess the process, outcomes, and impact of the program on the partnership, the participants, the clinical providers, and the community.

This partnership seeks to learn more about ambient outdoor triggers of asthma in farm workers, leading to strategies to control, eliminate, or avoid exposure to asthma triggers.

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