New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera has passed a bill to protect children with asthma.
According to Rivera’s office, one in 10 children in New York City has asthma. In the Bronx, one in four children suffers from this disease.
Environmentalists often refer to an area of Mott Haven as “asthma alley” due to the strong smell of smoke and pollution.
Under Rivera’s new bill, rescue inhalers would be readily available to all children in public care facilities in the same way as EpiPens.
The bill passed the state Senate on Wednesday. It has yet to be signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul.
Inhalers usually help children with severe and sudden asthma attacks.
New York City has one of the highest rates of asthma hospitalizations and deaths in the nation among children, according to Columbia University.
Rivera says the lack of access to inhalers can pose a major challenge.
“It obviously impacts all kinds of things, it impacts the type of physical activity they can do, it impacts their family, because if they don’t have access to healthcare, that means their parents have to take them to the emergency room when their kids have a stroke. There are all kinds of problems that come out of that,” Rivera says.
The senator says he recognizes that rescue inhalers are used to treat symptoms. To help children even more, he says lawmakers must also work to improve what causes asthma in the first place, such as housing conditions, pest problems and pollution.
Rivera says he expects more legislation in the future and that this bill is just the start.