Guglielmo is the director of the Asthma Coalition of Queens, which was established in 2012 and is funded by a state Department of Health grant. Its mission is to reduce the burden of asthma in the borough by engaging patients, families, healthcare providers and the local community.
“Queens has a big burden of asthma,” Guglielmo said. “Many of the things that cause asthma are environmental, both outdoor and indoor triggers. There’s also a genetic component.”
Some environmental factors include particulate matter and outdoor air pollution, which is often emitted from power plants. She said those pollutants can cause tightening and swelling, which triggers coughing and wheezing.
“Any outdoor particulate matter will exacerbate an asthma attack,” she said. “Any measure that improves air quality will positively impact people with asthma and health outcomes for people who suffer from asthma on a daily basis.”
That’s especially the case in western Queens, which is home to many of the city’s power plants. Guglielmo said western Queens sees hospitalization and emergency room rates higher than the average of the county across all age groups.
Guglielmo said many people believe they shed their asthma just because they haven’t had symptoms in a long time.
She reminded asthmatics to talk to their doctors, take the proper medication and have an asthma action plan, which will inform them of what to do at any stage of attacks.
“It’s really important to take your medicine in the way your doctor tells you to every single day,” Guglielmo said. “That’s the first line of defense to reducing the inflammation.”