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Could Planting a Tree Help Manage Asthma?

Improving the air quality in Camden is the goal for the Camden Collaborative Initiative’s Air Work Group. Recently, we have discussed ways to lower the urban heat index in our community. Research shows that communities with high heat indexes often suffer from poor air and water qualities.  Vulnerable populations, like children with asthma, are generally more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of extreme weather. Experts report that extreme heat and humid conditions can exacerbate asthmatic symptoms. Moist air makes the atmosphere damp and heavy, making breathing especially difficult for people with asthma.  Furthermore, humidity can cause mold to grow, which can also trigger asthmatic symptoms.

According to Sheila Colalillo, R.N., Camden school nurse 1 in 5 students in the city have been diagnosed with asthma.  She links the high asthma rate to the poor quality of the environment.  “The environment in Camden is potentially a deathtrap for severe asthmatics,” she says.

 

The Air Work Group is working towards one solution to mitigate the adverse effects of extremely warm weather on vulnerable populations, particularly for asthmatic children, is to plant more trees throughout the city as advocated by our partners at Rowan University.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, trees and vegetation can lower surface air temperatures 20-40 F degrees by offering shade.  And they can reduce the temperature by an additional 2-9 F degrees through evapotranspiration (the process of transferring water from land to the atmosphere).  The agency reports that the most effective way to cool a building is to plant deciduous trees to the west.  For optimal effect, these trees must be planted to provide shade for windows and roofs.

By planting more trees in the city, we would improve the air quality in the city, the quality of life in general and make for a healthier Camden.

About the Grantee

Cooper’s Ferry Partnership

The mission of Cooper's Ferry Partnership is to serve as the catalyst for the preservation and growth of a vibrant Camden. We have a lot to be excited about in Camden—from what we have accomplished to what the future holds, Camden is a model of what can be achieved when passionate people dream big and work together to take action.