How can Latinos fight asthma within their own homes?

How can Latinos fight asthma within their own homes?

More than 2 million Hispanics in the United States suffer from asthma.

Young students struggle to breathe in south L.A. Univision

Roxana López, a a Los Angeles mother of two, is familiar with the symptoms that keep her children up at night: coughing, wheezing, chest pain and difficulty breathing. Both of López's children suffer from asthma, a disease that affects the lungs and can cause attacks. In extreme cases, it can even kill.

Latinos are especially vulnerable to asthma. Approximately 2.1 million Hispanics suffered from the disease in 2014, according to U.S. health authorities. Hispanics also tend to work in low-paying industries like agriculture and construction, which seldom offer health insurance and instead often expose them to serious respiratory diseases.

“They run a higher risk because of the places where they live and work,” said Lucia Oliva Hennely, an Environmental Defense Fund official who focuses on Hispanic communities. “Children are more likely to suffer from asthma, and Hispanics in general have a 40 percent higher chance than non-Hispanic whites of dying from the disease.”

Lee esta nota en español

Specialists don't know exactly what causes asthma to appear or develop, but there’s evidence that it’s hereditary and can be set off by certain environmental factors, such as poor air quality or certain household triggers.

“My children can't breathe,” said López. “They feel like fish out of the water,” she added, recalling the anguish of the nights when one of them had an attack. “It's very difficult at night.”

López lives on busy San Pedro Street, surrounded by heavy traffic, the port of Los Angeles and the refineries in the Wilmington neighborhood nearby. Two years ago, she got a knock on the door from Jessica Figueroa, an activist with the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma.


“The first thing I do when I go into a home is use my nose,” Figueroa said, sitting next to López in the living room.

Figueroa said she gave López the same most important recommendation she has given to other Hispanic families in Los Angeles: move to a neighborhood with better air quality. But the answer was the same: it’s too expensive.

“We can only tell them that living here, so close to the traffic, will really affect the children,” said Figueroa.

While López said she can’t afford to move or stop the traffic, she proudly noted that she’s learned there's a lot she can do inside her home. It’s all thanks to Figueroa's nose.

“When I came in, I did an evaluation of the house. I found triggers, like dust. [López] didn’t clean the curtains, because she didn't know it had to be done. I also saw her daughter had too many stuffed animals,” said Figueroa. Other triggers include carpeting, mildew, cockroaches and strong cleaning chemicals.

“She asked me, 'Show me everything you use to clean. I showed her, and I was laughing because she was telling me, 'Not this. Not this. Not this … She took away everything I used [to clean],” said López. “All of this goes into the garbage.”

López said it was a bit of a shock to have someone examine everything in her house and tell her what to do. But it worked.

“I am very grateful she helped me,” said López, one of the many Latinas Figueroa taught about the seriousness of their children's asthma and how it can be somewhat controlled through cleaning.


Experts agree that Hispanics face health challenges that make them more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, which in turn aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma. Economic, cultural, educational and language barriers make it harder for them to access services to alleviate health problems caused by pollution. Many have no health insurance.

Latinos who suffer from asthma are less likely to receive regular care from a doctor or a clinic, said Brian Christman, spokesman for the American Lung Association. They also are less likely to receive prescriptions for the correct medication, and have limited access to specialized care.

Elena Rios, president of the National Hispanic Medical Association, added that Hispanics also have more problems following treatment regimens, often don't know how to use inhalators and tend to receive less medical care for asthma in the long run because many don't have primary care physicians.

Without primary care, some Latinos – especially those who speak little English – resort to emergency room visits more often and suffer from a lower quality of life compared to those who speak English well. Uncertainty due to their immigration status may also increase their stress levels and limit the willingness of immigrants to seek the medical help they need.

Poverty and high stress levels can affect asthma sufferers, increasing the severity of attacks. About 21 percent of Hispanics live under the poverty line, compared to 12.5 percent of the general U.S. population.


Daily disabilities caused by asthma must be taken into consideration when evaluating the impact of the disease, said Dr. Joshua Galanter, assistant professor at the the University of California, San Francisco pulmonary and allergy program.

U.S. health data show that each year, asthma is responsible for about 10.5 million missed school days, 1.8 million emergency room visits and 439,000 hospitalizations that average 3.6 days.

There's no cure for asthma but it can be controlled. If not treated correctly, the attacks can grow worse over time and lead to even more serious respiratory diseases. Education is key, especially in the Hispanic culture, where home-grown remedies are common. Neglecting asthma can weaken pulmonary functions in the long run and lead to premature death, experts say.

Figueroa is proud of her work helping Hispanic families fight asthma in Los Angeles. But she burst into tears when she started to list the people she knows who also suffer from asthma.

“My mother, my sister, my cousins have asthma. I think my son will have asthma. Even me, because I live on San Pedro Street and work in Wilmington, feel a whistle in my chest that is really affecting me,” she said.

Life with an oil rig in the backyard
In California, two-thirds of those living within a mile of an oil well are non-white minorities.
Casas entre la refinería y la ruta 110.
A Disney World of pollution in a California town
Communities with the worst air pollution in the United States are often home to predominantly Hispanic populations.
Out of breath: Exercising in one of the most polluted areas in the US
Latinos risk health exercising outdoors in south L.A.
Residents of the Wilmington area of South Los Angeles risk breathing in pollutants when they go outside, and children are especially vulnerable.
They grew up in Chicago and their husbands, the Flores twins (aka ‘Los Mellizos’), worked for the Sinaloa cartel. The twins later became DEA informants in Mexico who helped bring down El Chapo Guzman. They have written a book, Cartel Wives, telling their story as a lesson to others not to fall for the narco life, and they regret what they put their families through. "Our fathers put on their suit of armor and their badge, and they are going out there on the streets of Chicago,” Mia confesses. “It’s the very same streets that our husbands were flooding with drugs.”
The Rio Abajo bridge was swept away leaving the town of Utuado cut off. Neighbors engineered a pulley system to haul supplies over the river but they wonder when their lives will return to any semblance of normality.
A scene form the new documentary A Long Way From Home about the desegregation of professional baseball.
Patients with chronic diseases are getting limited treatment in health centers and are still waiting for restoration of power and water supply. Univision News visited several hospitals.
Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz reacted to comments on Twitter by President Trump in which he said Puerto Ricans “want everything done for them."
It is estimated that there are almost as many Puerto Ricans living off the island as the 3.4 million that reside there. After Hurricane Maria, almost all communication was lost between those on the island and in the diaspora. Univision sent a reporting team to the island before Maria's arrival. Part of their job now is helping connect families.
Two reporters from Univision News followed the track of Hurricane Maria, starting from the southeast where the eye made landfall all the way to the capital. This is what they saw from the road ...
An "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, Maria made landfall near Yabucoa in southeast Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding across the U.S. territory of 3.4 million inhabitants. Maria caused rivers to flood all over the island. This video was taken in Guayama, on the south coast.
The 1998 hurricane killed 11,000 people in Honduras and Nicaragua and left more than a million homeless. As a result, the United States granted temporary visas to citizens from those countries who were living illegally in the U.S.
After a strong earthquake shook Mexico City, thousands of people evacuated their homes. The epicenter was 7.5 miles southeast of Axochiapan, in the state of Morelos.
Estos son los testimonios de los residentes del edificio Robert King High Towers, ubicado en la pequeña Habana, que visitamos para conocer en qué condiciones se encontraban, cinco días después del paso del huracán.
Had Irma tracked 50 miles further north along Cuba's coast, the results could have been dramatically different, meteorologists say, causing devastation to the densely populated Greater Miami region. Also by tracking up Florida's west coast close to the shoreline deprived Irma of the warm Gulf water that fuels storms. Here is a compilation of the hurricane satellite images shared by NASA on social media.
The weather station in Key West, Florida, is sending weather balloons into the atmosphere to measure the powerful category 5 hurricane, which currently has winds of 175 miles per hour.
The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded the DACA program that President Barack Obama introduced to protect the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. Sessions said the program would be phased out over six months to allow Congress time to have another go at passing legislation.
Two brothers graduated from Harvard and Middlebury. They grew up in Houston and are practicing Christians. "Like "good Americans," they like Taco Bell. They have lived most of their lives in the United States and have a simple request for the president: "Do not get rid of DACA."
During a meeting in the Oval office Friday, the president was asked by reporters about the future of DACA, to which he responded that a decision was coming soon. "We love the dreamers, we love everyone," he added.
Primer Impacto
Primer Impactoenter description
Como si fuera basura, mujer saca en una bolsa negra lo que sería un perro moribundo
Un video muestra el momento en que la mujer sacó una bolsa de basura negra. Según los testigos, dentro de la bolsa había un perro que acabó perdiendo la vida.
Con su hijo enfermo en brazos, padres denuncian que les negaron la asistencia médica en un hospital de México
Entre lágrimas, los padres grabaron el estado en el que se encontraba su hijo enfermo a las puertas de un hospital en Chiapas. Quisieron publicar el video en las redes sociales para ejercer presión porque se negaron a atenderlos.
Arrestan al padre de Sherin Mathews, la niña desaparecida en Texas
La policía de Richardson informó que detuvo a Wesley Mathews, un día después de hallar un cuerpo que se teme es el de la pequeña de tres años.
El Senado de California investigará lluvia de acusaciones de acoso sexual en el Capitolio
La semana pasada más de 140 mujeres, incluyendo legisladoras, funcionarias, políticas y consultoras, firmaron una carta en la que denunciaron una "cultura generalizada de acoso sexual" en su espacio laboral. El presidente del Senado respondió anunciando una investigación, pero las víctimas dicen que esto es "insuficiente".
Conmoción entre la comunidad de Richardson por el hallazgo del cuerpo de una menor que podría ser el de Sherin Mathews
El pasado domingo, la policía de Richardson encontró el cuerpo de una menor que fue enviado a Dallas para que médicos forenses adelanten los trabajos de identificación y determinar si se trata de la pequeña Sherin Mathews que desapareció hace unas semanas. Mientras tanto, la comunidad sigue pidiendo justicia en este sonado caso.
Aplazan por tres semanas la audiencia de los padres adoptivos de la desaparecida Sherin Mathews
Sini y Wesley Mathews comparecieron este lunes ante una corte de Dallas para definir la custodia de su hija biológica mientras avanza la investigación por la desaparición de Sherin Mathews, pero la audiencia fue aplazada por petición del padre de la menor que aún no cuenta con un abogado.
El loco mundo del ‘Tuca’: el técnico despertó a un periodista, “No se coma los mocos maestro”
El DT de Tigres provocó risas y sustos en la misma rueda de prensa. Le preguntaron por Jémez y respondió tajante que no hablaría del español. Luego, cuando se iba, un periodista le habló y Ferretti lo trató de ‘dormido’.
‘Nacho’ Ambriz volvió al Azteca para herir a su ex América
El técnico del Necaxa retornó al estadio en el que dirigiera, con poco éxito, a las Águilas entre mayo del 2015 y septiembre del 2016. Al final, su cara de satisfacción contrastó con algunos silbidos.
Top 5 de pifias de la J14: Bou fue poseído por el espíritu de un defensa con este ‘rechazo’
El delantero de Xolos hubiera podido cambiar la historia del juego, en el que Atlas los venció 1-0 en Jalisco, definiendo bien esta clara oportunidad de gol. Aquí, más errores imperdonables.
Nuevo récord, una triste ausencia y el salvador de San Jose, entre lo mejor del ‘Decision Day’
En la finalísima de la Major League Soccer, tres historias destacaron, como “Lo Bueno, Lo Malo y Lo Bomba.”