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VIDEO: Testing and teaching—How in-school screenings can help kids catch their breath
Thursday June 14th 2018, 11:19 am

Editor’s note: This story is part of “Breathless,” EHN’s in-depth look at asthma in Pittsburgh and what can be done to help children breathe easier.


On a hot Monday morning in May, EHN sat in on the monthly asthma clinic at Clairton Elementary School as children came into the nurse’s office one to have their lung function tested.

Local pediatrician Dr. Deborah Gentile launched the program in partnership with Duquesne University after conducting a research study that revealed 18.4 percent of the children at Clairton Elementary have asthma—more than double the national average.

Clairton is home to US Steel’s Clairton Coke Works plant, the largest facility in the country for converting coal into coke, a material used in steel manufacturing. The plant is one of the top three polluters in the region, and had at least 6,700 air pollution violations over a three-year span between 2012 and 2015, according to an Allegheny County Health Department report.

Gentile’s asthma clinic program, dubbed CARES (Caring for Asthma in our Region’s Schoolchildren), has enrolled 41 patients, ages 6-12, from six local elementary schools for ongoing care through regular in-school asthma clinics. Gentile hopes to ultimately see the program expanded to every school in the county, then the state.

*CARES and EHN receive support from the Heinz Endowments.

Related coverage: Can mandatory asthma screenings solve Pittsburgh’s asthma epidemic?

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