Geographic Information Systems

Asthma Mortality in New Jersey

I am a lifelong asthma sufferer. In elementary school, a student in my district had a severe asthma attack at recess one day and she succumbed to the attack because her rescue inhaler was empty, so for my whole life I’ve been a little obsessive about making sure that I always have one with me. Because of my personal history with asthma, I was interested in looking into this data set. I have always been conscious of air quality and it’s affect on health, and learning about the amount of people who die as a result of asthma-related complications is tied to that fact.

I looked at a five year range of data from the NJ State Health Assessment Database that shows the number of people who have died from asthma-related illnesses. In compiling the data, it appears that the highest concentration of deaths corresponds to some of the most densely populated areas of New Jersey, which also experience higher instances of air pollution. While there are many causes for asthmatic attacks, this correlation cannot be ruled out.

In five years between 2015-2019, Essex County had a total of 106 deaths, and Hudson County had 58. These two counties account for approximately 25% of the states’ asthma deaths in this date range. It would be interesting to look at the air quality measurements in these areas to see how and if they are related.

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