Good vs. bad; asthma sufferers in Knoxville

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Knoxville is improving on the list of worst U.S. cities for asthma suffers to live.

That's the good news.

The bad news, it still ranks fourth on the list of the 100 most challenging places to live with asthma.

We're covering east tennessee health with local medical reaction as to the reasons why, and whether Knoxville is really doing better, or the top three are doing worse.

High asthma death rate, high pollen levels, and severe air pollution, make Knoxville the fourth worst U.S. city for asthma sufferers to live, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

But that's an improvement over past years, due in part to Tennessee's new public smoking laws.

Which the AAFA calls worse than average, but an improvement, nevertheless.

"There are very few asthmatics that are not affected by exposure to cigarette smoke, especially if their allergies are flared and their asthma is flared. It will make a much bigger impact."

Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center Dr. Ty Prince says another area of improvement is the air pollution, namely fewer traffic back-ups on interstate 40.

"We do have the interstate moving much better than it was last year, and we have had less of the ozone warming days in the last year than we did the previous year."

But the category least likely to change is East Tennessee's high pollen levels.

A two to four hundred pollen count day is considered "high."

Prince says we had days last year in the 10 to 12 *thousand* range.

"We might have a worse situation in that the air doesn't go freely through the East Tennessee area, it's more of a bowl effect where we thing we have more blowing in than blowing out."

Medical experts say every city in America has a different set of risk factors.

Working with an asthma specialist will help to make your breathing problems manageable.

Atlanta is the worst U.S. city and the 2007 asthma capital.

Philadelphia is second, and Raleigh, North Carolina ranks third.

Seattle ranks best.

The AAFA says the reason behind the ranking is to warn Americans that across the nation, asthma rates continue to climb.

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