This Missouri Town Is The State’s Worst Place To Live With Asthma

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: May 26, 2023
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Asthma is a common respiratory condition affecting millions of people in the USA and the world. It can be a severe and sometimes life-threatening condition if not managed properly. 

It is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and constriction of the airways, leading to symptoms like shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing.

Missouri has one of the highest asthma rates in the country, with over 600,000 adults and children currently living with the disease. 

While asthma is prevalent throughout the state, one city stands out as the worst for asthmatics.

This article covers the worst place to live in Missouri with asthma. We’ll also learn the factors that make the town such a challenging place to live with asthma, including environmental factors, healthcare access, and public policy. 

Missouri’s Worst Place To Live With Asthma

Gateway Park National Park
The worst place to live in Missouri with asthma is St. Louis.


St. Louis has the highest asthma rates in Missouri State, with over 100,000 adults and children currently living with the disease. 

This represents a prevalence rate of 12.4%, significantly higher than the statewide average of 8.7%. 

In addition, the prevalence of asthma in St. Louis has been steadily increasing over the past several years, with a 20% increase in hospitalizations due to asthma between 2013 and 2018. These factors contribute to its place as the worst place to live in Missouri for asthma.

Overall, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), in its 2022 report, ranked St. Louis the 14th worst town for asthma sufferers in Missouri, with a total score of 82.23. The national average is 63.79.

The AAFA ranked Kansas City the second worst city in Missouri for asthmatics, with a score of 60.80.

Ranking By Region

Regarding regions, St. Louis City is ranked fourth in the Midwest region after Detroit, MI, Cleveland, OH, and Columbus, OH. Toledo, OH, is ranked fifth in the region.

Deaths From Asthma

On a sad note, St. Louis, MO, ranks highest in the U.S. for asthma-related deaths. It’s followed by the following cities respectively:

  • Baltimore, MD
  • Jackson, MS
  • Richmond, VA
  • Fresno, CA

Factors For Why St. Louis The Worst Place To Live In Missouri With Asthma

The high prevalence of asthma in St. Louis can be attributed to various environmental factors. 

  • Air pollution. One major factor is air pollution, which is particularly problematic in the city due to its heavy traffic and high number of industrial facilities. 
  • Mold and pollen. Another factor is allergens, such as mold and pollen, which are abundant in St. Louis due to the state’s humid climate and extensive vegetation cover.
  • Climate change. Finally, climate change also contributes to the increase in asthma prevalence, as rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events exacerbate existing respiratory conditions.

Where Is St. Louis, Missouri Located On A Map?

St. Louis is in the eastern central portion of the state and lies on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Missouri is located in the mid-west region of the United States. It is bordered by Nebraska to the northwest, Iowa to the north, Illinois to the east, Kentucky to the southeast, Tennesee and Arkansas to the south, Oklahoma to the southwest, and Kansas to the west.

Missouri And Asthma

sneezing woman
Asthma affects an estimated 8.8% of adults in Missouri.

© Media Production

Asthma is a common respiratory condition in Missouri, affecting people of all ages. According to the CDC, Missouri has a higher prevalence of asthma than the national average.

Prevalence Of Asthma In Missouri

An estimated 8.8% of adults in Missouri have asthma, compared to the national average of 7.7%. 

Asthma is also more prevalent among children in Missouri, with an estimated 9.6% of children under 18 having asthma, compared to the national average of 8.4%.

The prevalence of asthma in Missouri has significant implications for healthcare utilization in the state. 

In 2017, there were over 87,000 emergency department visits and 12,000 hospitalizations related to asthma in Missouri. This can lead to increased healthcare costs and burdens on the healthcare system.

Asthma Prevalence In The US

Asthma is very prevalent in the United States and affects more than 20 million people.

©Dragana Gordic/

Asthma is a widespread respiratory condition in the USA. It affects an estimated 25 million people. 

According to the CDC, about one in 13 people in the USA has asthma. The prevalence of asthma is higher among certain groups, including:

  • Children
  • Women
  • Certain racial and ethnic minorities

Regional And State Differences In Asthma Prevalence 

The occurrence of asthma varies across different regions and states in the USA. Higher rates are reported in the Northeast and Midwest, while the West and South have lower rates. 

Factors such as air pollution, urbanization, and access to healthcare have been linked to these differences.

Increasing Prevalence Of Asthma 

Research shows that asthma prevalence is increasing in the USA, especially among children. While the exact reasons for this trend are not fully understood, experts suggest that genetic and environmental factors may play a role.

Implications For Effective Asthma Management And Prevention 

Given the high prevalence of asthma in the USA, it is crucial to develop effective strategies for managing and preventing the condition. 

By understanding the factors contributing to asthma prevalence and the groups most affected, we can develop targeted interventions to improve asthma management and reduce its impact on people’s lives.

Asthma Management In Missouri

Welcome to Missouri sign
If you live in Missouri, you have a few options for managing your asthma.


Effective asthma management is crucial for:

  • Reducing the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms
  • Improving the quality of life
  • Minimizing the need for emergency healthcare use

In Missouri, various resources are available to help asthmatics manage their condition.

Asthma Education Programs

Asthma education programs can help individuals with asthma to better:

  • Understand their condition
  • Identify triggers
  • Develop an asthma action plan 

The Missouri Asthma Prevention and Control Program (MAPCP) provides asthma education and resources to healthcare providers, schools, and community organizations throughout the state. 

The American Lung Association in Missouri also offers an Asthma Educator Institute for healthcare providers and a Better Breathers Club for individuals with asthma and other lung conditions.

Action Plans For Living With Asthma

An asthma action plan is a personalized plan that outlines the steps to take when asthma symptoms arise. This can include using quick-relief medications, such as inhalers, and knowing when to seek emergency medical care. 

Healthcare providers can work with individuals with asthma to develop a personalized asthma action plan considering their specific triggers and symptoms.

Environmental Interventions

Reducing exposure to asthma triggers in the environment can also help manage asthma symptoms. The MAPCP offers resources and guidance on reducing exposure to indoor and outdoor asthma triggers, such as:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Mold
  • Air pollution

Additionally, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources provides information on air quality in the state. It also offers resources for reducing exposure to air pollutants.


Asthma medications can help manage symptoms and prevent exacerbations. These can include long-term control medications like inhaled corticosteroids or quick-relief ones like short-acting bronchodilators. 

Healthcare providers can work with individuals with asthma to determine the appropriate medication regimen for their specific needs.

By utilizing these resources and working with healthcare providers, individuals with asthma in Missouri can effectively manage their condition and improve their quality of life. 

Asthma Disparities In Missouri

While asthma affects individuals of all races, ethnicities, and income levels, there are disparities in asthma prevalence and healthcare utilization in Missouri based on these factors. These disparities can lead to poorer health outcomes and a greater burden on the healthcare system.

Race And Ethnicity Disparities

In Missouri, African American adults have a higher prevalence of asthma than white adults, with rates of 12.3% and 8.3%, respectively. 

Additionally, African American individuals in Missouri are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma-related complications and to visit emergency departments for asthma-related issues than white individuals. The reasons for these disparities are multifactorial and may include the following:

  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Socioeconomic factors

Income Disparities

Individuals with lower incomes in Missouri are also more likely to have asthma and to experience asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations. This may be due to a variety of factors, such as:

  • Exposure to triggers in the environment
  • Limited access to healthcare and medications
  • Higher stress levels

Efforts To Address Disparities

Efforts are underway in Missouri to address asthma disparities and improve health outcomes for all individuals with asthma. 

For example, the MAPCP provides resources and education to healthcare providers, schools, and community organizations to help identify and address asthma disparities. 

Additionally, there are initiatives to increase access to healthcare and medications for low-income individuals with asthma.

Asthma Triggers

Asthma symptoms can be triggered by various factors, both environmental and non-environmental. Let’s learn more about these triggers and how to manage them.

Environmental Triggers

Air pollution, allergens, and climate are asthma’s most common environmental triggers.

  • Air pollution. Outdoor air pollution from traffic, industry, and other sources can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Indoor air pollution from tobacco smoke, mold, and dust mites can also be a trigger.
  • Allergens. Common allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen can trigger asthma symptoms in some people.
  • Climate. Changes in temperature, humidity, and air pressure can trigger asthma symptoms in some people.

Non-Environmental Triggers

The most common non-environmental triggers for asthma attacks include exercise, infections, and stress.

  • Exercise. Strenuous exercise can trigger asthma symptoms in some people, a condition known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
  • Infections. Respiratory infections like influenza and the common cold can trigger asthma symptoms in some people.
  • Stress. Emotional stress and anxiety can trigger asthma symptoms in some people.

Managing Asthma Triggers

Effective management of asthma triggers can help reduce the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms. This can include:

  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Avoiding known triggers
  • Developing an asthma action plan in consultation with a healthcare provider

By understanding the triggers that can exacerbate asthma symptoms, people with asthma can take steps to manage their condition and improve their quality of life.

Public Policy And Asthma In Missouri

Unextinguished Cigarettes
Missouri features a smoke-free law that can help reduce exposure to known secondhand smoke, a known asthma trigger.


Public policy plays a crucial role in asthma prevention and management in Missouri. Several initiatives and policies are in place to help reduce asthma triggers and improve access to care for individuals with asthma.

Smoke-Free Laws

In 2007, Missouri passed a law prohibiting smoking in most indoor public places and workplaces. This law has helped to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, a known asthma trigger. 

Additionally, several cities and counties in Missouri have passed more comprehensive smoke-free laws that include outdoor areas such as parks and playgrounds.

Asthma-Friendly Schools

Schools can play a significant role in asthma prevention and management for children with asthma. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services offers resources and guidelines for schools to become asthma-friendly, including:

  • Developing asthma action plans
  • Reducing exposure to asthma triggers
  • Ensuring access to medications

Medicaid Expansion

In 2021, Missouri expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income adults, which could improve access to healthcare and medications for individuals with asthma who were previously uninsured. 

Medicaid coverage can help individuals with asthma receive preventive care, such as asthma education and regular check-ups, leading to improved asthma management and reduced healthcare costs.

Air Quality Regulations

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has regulations in place to reduce air pollution, a known asthma trigger. These regulations aim to reduce emissions from industries such as power plants and factories and transportation sources like cars and trucks. 

Additionally, the department provides air quality forecasts and alerts to help individuals with asthma reduce their exposure to air pollution.

Key Takeaways

Asthma is a common and significant health issue in Missouri, affecting individuals of all ages and backgrounds. While there have been improvements in asthma management and prevention in recent years, much still needs to be done to reduce asthma prevalence, improve healthcare access and outcomes, and address disparities.

Efforts such as the Missouri Asthma Prevention and Control Program, smoke-free laws, asthma-friendly schools, Medicaid expansion, and air quality regulations are all steps in the right direction toward reducing asthma triggers and improving asthma management in Missouri.

But it’s important to prioritize asthma prevention and management in public policy decisions and healthcare practices. By working together, healthcare providers, policymakers, and individuals with asthma can continue to make progress toward achieving better asthma outcomes and reducing the burden of asthma in Missouri.

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The Featured Image

Welcome to Missouri sign
Welcome to Missouri sign along U.S. Route 169 at the Iowa/Missouri state line.

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

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