Category Archives: Air Quality

Atmospheric conditions, industrial smog

Urban areas promote food as well as respiratory allergies

Urban area: Reading, PA, courtesy Nicholas_T on Flickr. Click here for usage rights.
Urban area: Reading, PA, courtesy Nicholas_T on Flickr. Click here for usage rights.
We’ve known for a long time that air pollution and smog of urban areas can trigger respiratory allergies. A new study shows that children in urban areas have higher incidence of food allergies as well.

The Chicago Tribune reported the study today:

The study, which followed almost 38,500 children under age 18, will be published in the July issue of Clinical Pediatrics. The researchers surveyed a representative sample of U.S. households with children about food allergies and mapped them based on their ZIP codes in every state.

According to the report, “Peanut allergies are twice as common in urban centers as rural communities.” Shellfish allergies were also more prevalent in urban areas studied.

A lead author of the study, assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Dr. Ruchi Gupta, said, “What we’ve found for the first time is that population density and environment have an impact.” But what is triggering all of this? According to Dr. Gupta, one possibility is that all the hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial products we Americans use are causing our bodies to fight things they shouldn’t. But Dr. Gupta says that is just a theory at this point.

Rural climates tend to have more foliage for those with seasonal allergies, and urban allergies have more pollution triggers. Add new findings of increased food allergy of urban areas and we can also define allergy climates by rural or urban. Which is best for you, as with all climate choices, will depend on your particular set of allergies and your ability to manage environmental factors that trigger them. The problem now is that we don’t yet know the environmental triggers of these alarming new urban food allergy findings.

Most difficult place to live with allergies in 2012

Knoxville, TN, topped the list as the most difficult place to live with allergies in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation’s Fall Allergy Roundup in 2011, and it has taken the #1 spot for spring allergies in 2012 as well. Knoxville scored second in AAFA’s spring, 2011, list. In second place for Fall allergies this year is McAllen, TX. You can see the complete list for Spring, 2012, on the AAFA website.

AAFA bases its rankings on 3 factors: Pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient, and number of allergy specialists per patient.

Fall Allergy Capitals, Portland better than average 2011

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released it’s “Fall Allergy Capitals” this month. Topping the list is Knoxville, TN, followed by Dayton, OH, McAllen, TX, Jackson, MS, and Oklahoma City, OK. AAFA does extensive research each year to provide this information on an annual basis.

Each Spring, AAFA also publishes their “Asthma Capitals” list. We did a full writeup of their 2011 Spring Allergy report soon after the report was released.This year, Richmond, VA tops the list. See the AAFA complete report listing the top ten Asthma Capitals linked below.

AAFA says, “There is no place safe from allergies in America, and some cities are more problematic than others.” Our goal here at Allergy Climates is to provide a place where people in the US and around the world can share which areas are least/most problematic for them.

Portland, Oregon ranks #100 on both lists this year for 2011, topping the year for the “better than average” place to live with allergies/asthma. What is your experience with allergy and asthma in Portland?

AAFA Asthma Capitals (Spring)
AAFA Fall Allergy Capitals

Best and worst places for asthma and allergy in 2011 – hats off, Portland!

Asthma report for 2011

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) recently published its “Asthma Capitals” report for 2011. Each year AAFA researches, compiles, analyzes, and compares data from its own surveys as well as numerous U.S Government and other qualified agencies, and provides reports for the challenges allergy and asthma sufferers face in areas across the U.S. AAFA weighs a number of factors in their rankings. For more about AAFA and their work and reports, see references below.

Worst places for asthma and allergy

Richmond, VA, tops the AAFA 2011 list as the most challenging place to live with asthma, followed by Knoxville, TN, in second place, and Memphis, TN, in third. With four Tennessee cities in the top ten list, it seems perhaps Tennessee wins the trophy for most challenging State Asthma Capital in 2011. However, this latter conclusion is merely speculation on my part, and not part of the AAFA report.

For fall allergies, Dayton, OH, took first place (for worst) in AAFA’s “Fall Allergy Capitals,” 2010, followed by Wichita, KS, in second, and Louisville, KY placing third.

Best places for asthma and allergy

I’m often asked about best places for asthma and allergy sufferers. The AAFA compares the 100 largest U.S. cities for their report, with the areas at the bottom of the list being “better than average” areas for those with asthma. This puts the 100th ranked Portland, OR, area in first place for better areas for those with asthma, 99th ranked San Francisco, CA, area in second, and 98th ranked Colorado Springs, CO, area in third for 2011.

In the AAFA “Fall Allergy Capitals,” 2010, Portland, OR, also took the 100th spot, followed by Seattle, WA, in 99th, and San Diego, CA, in 98th. Hats off to Portland!

It’s important to remember that many factors go into determining which area is best for you. Your allergies may be completely different from those of others who report problems or relief in a specific area. Keep in mind also that moving away from one area’s allergens can lead to development of new allergies to prevalent allergens where you move.

Investigate info from AAFA’s “Asthma Capitals,” as well as their fall and spring “Allergy Capitals” reports, including prevalence, risk, and medical factors for cities nearest areas which you are considering for possible relocation. Search others’ experiences here at “Allergy Climates and Seasons,” repeat visits to areas you are interested in during each season of the year, and stay as long as possible with each visit to areas where you might potentially want to live. Before you make the move, talk with people in the area about common allergies, and ask if there other environmental or health-related concerns in that area which you may not have considered.


  1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).
  2. Asthma Capitals.
  3. Allergy Capitals.
  4. We appreciate the extensive research, data gathering, and compilation provided by AAFA. Their efforts to promote quality air enriches life for all of us. We have referenced their reports several times through the years in an effort to provide current information for allergy sufferers.

Mountain Cedar-Juniper allergy: relief in Santa Fe NM

We moved to Santa Fe one year ago due to allergy and asthma in Dallas so severe that I had infections up to 5 x two years.  Juniper is in the same family as Cedar so we still suffer, but very little as the pollen counts in Dallas are around 10 grains per cubic meter as opposed to 4 grains here.  Allergies and asthma improved greatly.  Less pollen because less humidity for it to float around on. Low mold counts due to dryness. Santa Fe superior to Albuquerque in our opinion because of no smog (simply does not form here).  Gorgeous weather, sights, etc. We DO humidify in winter – easily done.  Rejected Tucson due to hot weather helping smog form.  We found relief in Santa Fe! – Cindy, New Mexico

Allergies in India: Hyderabad for lon, Chennai

My wife is asthamatic for over 50 years. We lived in Hyderabad for lon, and gradually the symptoms reduced along with ayurvedic medicines [ Maharishi’s Asthomap in particular].

We shifted to Chennai a few weeks ago. Within one week she is down again with a severe attack of asthma…heavily polluted air, continuous rain and very wet weather, mistakingly switching on the Air Conditiouer to drive out mosquitoes to name a few.
Chennai seems to be at least 3-5 times more polluted than Hyderabad–air, water and surface pollution.

We regret having come here and are wondering when she will recover to enable us return.

Now we are looking for information for the best place for asthamatic patients in India. She is 68. We yearn for a place with the climate and population of Hyderabad of early 1960’s. Please suggest a few locations. — R., India

Top ten BEST places for allergies (and worst)

In 1996 and 1997, we posted info about the ten worst US cities for asthma sufferers as released by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Often people ask “Where are the best places?” Sperling’s Best Places, in conjunction with Schering-Plough Corporation, has released it’s study of the ten best and worst places to live with allergies. Thanks to Lewis who provided the link and shared more comments about this here at Allergy Climates.

Topping the list of best places, according to the Sperling study, is Grand Rapids, MI. Louisville, KY, ranks worst. The AAFA study, which ranks Asthma (as opposed to the Sperling study which ranks Allergies) lists Atlanta, GA, as the worst US city to live in.

Sterling also seems to support what we’ve often pointed out here at Allergy Climates, that there is no safe-haven for allergy sufferers. Schering-Plough writes:
“A key finding of this study is that there is no geographic center for allergies…no part of the country is immune to their effects.”

The Sterling study is based on mean pollen and mold spore levels for the years 2002, 2001, 2000, and 1999, while the AAFA does the studies annually. The AAFA study also takes into consideration air pollution. Air pollution and smog, especially ozone, are now believed to play an important role as triggers for asthma and allergy.

Allergies and asthma worse in Denver

I have always had asthma but it was very mild, mostly just when I exercised. But over a year ago, we moved to Colorado from California and I have developed allergies, chronic sinusitis and my asthma has worsened since we moved here.

My doctor in California had said that Denver would be better for my asthma because the air quality is better here but I have since found out that many people have increased problems with allergies and asthma here. I think the dry climate and altitude are hard on the sinuses and asthma, and there are problems with allergies here even mold and dust mites.

Since I have been here, I have developed allergies to dogs, trees, weeds, feathers and mold. I went from having hardly any problem to being on three different medications and still having problems and now my doctor is considering allergy shots or sinus surgery. If you have problems with allergies or asthma I would not recommend Colorado. We are considering moving somewhere else. — MK, Colorado

Allergy Climate in Palm Springs, Palm Desert area, Austin, TX

I would love to retire in the Palm springs, Palm Desert area; however, I’m aware of the extraordinarily high pollution levels. Including air pollution, with which other allergies will I need to deal?

Living in Austin, mold, cedar and other airborne allergans are making my life miserable and creating the need for immediate relief by moving out of the area. — Larry, Texas

Arizona Desert

I have lived in the desert of AZ most of my life, 25 out of 30 years. My parents were asked to move me out here as an infant with severe asthma, saying it would be better for me. It was better for me in the beginning, even though I still had very bad asthma, my attacks were fewer in number.

In the last 8-10 years however, I have had some of the worst asthma and allergy related illnesses of my life. Last fall I was sick for an entire month, on heavy doses of steroids for over two months. The air here is awful due to heavy construction and more pollution. The population and growth is out of control, so there is more smog, and lots more dust due to construction. There is typially a brown/gray cloud over the metro and even outskirts of the phoenix and outlying areas.

I am now moving back to the midwest suburbs to get into less dry air, and much less polluted air. Good luck if you come to the Phoenix area is all I have to say. — Kristen