Report: Ragweed Pollen Part of “Perfect Storm” of Asthma Peak Month

AAFA’s 2023 Asthma Capitals™ report highlights urgency of climate crisis

Washington, DC, Sept. 18, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) 2023 Asthma Capitals™ report calls attention to the climate crisis, noting that warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns mean a longer ragweed pollen season. Ragweed pollen is part of what AAFA says is a “perfect storm” of conditions that make September Asthma Peak Month – a time when there are more emergency department visits related to asthma than any other month of the year.

“September is a time when people with asthma and allergies face health threats from the effects of climate change,” said Melanie Carver, chief mission officer at AAFA. “Pollen allergy season now starts 20 days earlier and lasts 10 days longer than it did 30 years ago. Ragweed pollen is most prevalent in the fall, typically peaking in September. Since allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma, this month is particularly challenging for people with asthma.”

AAFA’s report uses three health outcomes to establish a ranking for each city: asthma prevalence, emergency department (ED) visits for asthma, and deaths due to asthma. The report also discusses risk factors that contribute to these outcomes: poverty, air quality, access to specialist medical care, pollen allergy, medicine use, tobacco policies, and lack of health insurance.  

The top 20 Asthma Capitals™ for 2023 are:

  1. Allentown, PA                                                     11. Columbus, OH

     2. Lakeland, FL                                                       12. Baltimore, MD

     3. Charleston, SC                                                   13. St. Louis, MO

     4. Cleveland, OH                                                   14. Orlando, FL

     5. Detroit, MI                                                         15. New York, NY

     6. Poughkeepsie, NY                                             16. Harrisburg, PA

     7. Richmond, VA                                                   17. McAllen, TX

     8. Philadelphia, PA                                                18. Omaha, NE

     9. Fresno, CA                                                        19. Dayton, OH

   10. Rochester, NY                                                   20. Greenville, SC

The Asthma Capitals report also points to wildfire season as both a challenge for people with asthma and allergies and as evidence of the impact of climate change on air quality.

The report notes:

“Wildfires are becoming more common, more intense, and more widespread due to climate change and land use changes. Fire seasons are getting longer - they start earlier and end later than in the past. Extreme weather starts and spreads fires. Increased wildfire activity leads to increased greenhouse gases, which then further fuel climate change in a reinforcing feedback loop.

“The impact of wildfires is spreading to regions where wildfire smoke exposure was previously uncommon. While fires are common in the Western U.S. and Canada, they are growing in magnitude and the resulting air pollution can travel hundreds or thousands of miles. Fires are occurring in unexpected areas as well.”

AAFA says the report is a call to action for policy change as well as a reminder to take personal action to manage asthma.

“This report includes valuable information designed to help people with asthma manage their condition,” said Dr. Jill Poole, MD, spokesperson for AAFA and allergy, asthma, and immunology specialist. “My recommendation would be to work with your healthcare provider to evaluate your asthma action plan, especially as we are in the most challenging time of year to live with asthma.”

For the latest AAFA news and resources go to


About the Research
AAFA publishes the Asthma Capitals™ report to raise awareness about the nationwide impacts of asthma. The report analyzes data from across the continental United States and ranks the 100 largest cities where it is challenging to live with asthma. The report ranks cities by the most critical of health outcomes – asthma prevalence, emergency department visits due to asthma attacks, and asthma mortality. The outcomes are not weighted equally. The report also examines asthma risk factors that influence the outcomes. Visit to see the full list of 100 cities, methodology, and to learn more about asthma management.

About AAFA
Founded in 1953, AAFA is the oldest and largest non-profit patient organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions through research, education, advocacy and support. AAFA offers extensive support for individuals and families affected by asthma and allergic diseases, such as food allergies and atopic dermatitis (eczema). Through its online patient support communities, network of local chapters and affiliated support groups, AAFA empowers patients and their families by providing practical, evidence-based information and community programs and services. AAFA is the only asthma and allergy patient advocacy group that is certified to meet the standards of excellence set by the National Health Council. For more information, visit:


September is Asthma Peak Month

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