Heinz Endowments funds Pittsburgh asthma study

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Heinz Endowments is funding a $415,000 study by researchers to determine whether asthma rates among Pittsburgh Public Schools students are as bad as school nurses say.

The nurses estimate as many as half of the city's school students use rescue inhalers or are otherwise dealing with asthma a figure that — if true — would be more than triple the national average.

Allegheny General Hospital researchers announced the study Monday and say they hope to pinpoint childhood asthma rates in the city and what's triggering such cases — no matter what the real numbers turn out to be.

One of the researchers, Dr. David Skoner, calls the 50 percent estimate "hard to believe" but not impossible. If that number is real, Skoner says, "It means we have some real problems related to air quality."

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.