A New York City lawmaker wants to make sure asthma isn't the reason kids miss school next year.
Environmental officials have installed air monitors in the Northeast Bronx to help fight asthma. New York state Senator Jeffrey Klein pushed for the program.
Klein said the monitors will help officials get a better understanding of asthma triggers in the neighborhood. "We're surrounded by highways and bridges, Throggs Neck, Whitestone Bridge, I-95. A lot of truck traffic, a lot of vehicle traffic goes through these communities and we all know those are the things that exacerbate asthma."
The Bronx has one of the highest asthma rates in the country but until now only the South Bronx had air monitors. Klein has introduced legislation to require education for school employees on how to manage the condition and spot warning signs.
Joseph Oddo with the Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association, is advocating for the bill. He said he did poorly in school before getting help for his asthma. "One semester comes to mind when I couldn't function at all, I was in and out of the infirmary from October to early March."
"This affliction has not only taken our childrens' health hostage, it is holding their education for ransom," Senator Klein said.
New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Wallcott was also on hand to express his support. "When a student is sick, they either miss class or struggle to learn, we need to do everything we can to make sure students attend school so that by their senior year they will be prepared for college." Klein says about 17-percent of students have been diagnosed with asthma.
According to Senator Klein, asthma is the most common chronic disorder in children and, in recent years, has become the leading cause of hospitalization among children in New York.
A report released by Senator Klein's office found that unlike the rest of the state where asthma is most prevalent in those aged 18-34, children under 18 were most affected by asthma in New York City.
Asthma hospitlaizations rates in the Bronx are 70-percent higher than the rest of the city and 700-percent higher than the rest of the state.