Richmond named asthma capital

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you have a hard time catching your breath, you might be able to blame it on where you live. Richmond has been given the dubious distinction of being the asthma capital of the country for the second year in a row.

Mike Terry has lived his entire life with asthma. He grew up in Richmond and says he can see why his hometown would be named the asthma capital.

"I'm not surprised," he said. "The pollen is really bad, especially in the spring time it's just awful."

The list was put together by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and looked at a variety of factors like public smoking laws, pollen levels and air quality - all areas where it says Richmond has fallen behind.

Richmond's time at the top could be limited though. Bill Hayden is the spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality. He says air quality isn't as big of a problem as it used to be.

"It's a little surprising," he said. "We don't really agree that that's the situation. For the past 10, 15 years, air quality in Richmond and overall in Virginia has been improving."

Marquis Brooks is also an asthmatic. He says he's a little surprised to see Richmond top the list but says pollen levels here are brutal.

"I like to breathe and stuff like that but I hate the pollen," he said. "The cars, no matter what color your car is, it's green by the end of the day so at least we keep the car wash people in business."

Asthmatics like Terry say if he can survive in the asthma capital, he has to be doing something right.

"If you can live here and it's as bad as they say it is and you can still breathe, I guess you're doing alright," Terry said.

Richmond fares only slightly better when it comes to allergies. Richmond came in at #8 for worst allergy conditions in a separate list.

Virginia Beach also made the worst asthma conditions list, coming in at #8. Over half of the cities on the list are in the South.

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