Maps, Data & Profiles

Asthma Discharge Rate for Individuals in Syracuse, NY (Ages 0 to 17, 18-64, 65+)

Posted: September 13, 2013    /   Created: May 24, 2013

Asthma hospital discharge rate per 10,000 people between 2008 and 2010 were downloaded from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH); website: The dataset includes hospital discharge rates for asthma per 10,000 people for the total population and the populations 0 to 17, 18 to 64, and 65 and above. These data were originally gathered by the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) and were used to create publicly accessible ZIP code level data for asthma hospital discharge rates organized by counties within New York State. Data for a 4 ZIP code that crosses county boundaries are allocated to one county only (the county that contains the largest geographic portion of that ZIP code). The data have several limitations. First, the data are aggregated to ZIP code to protect confidentiality. ZIP codes are a problematic geographic unit because they do not align with city, town, census tract, county, or neighborhood boundaries, making geographical comparisons difficult. Second, these data only account for the people who seek treatment through the emergency room. There may be people who have asthma that simply go to a primary care provider, rather than seek care at a hospital. Similarly, cases may be so few in some ZIP codes that the rate is unstable. Third, asthma is a disease that has a wide range of factors that can lead to its onset. The literature indicates there is a correlation between canopy cover and asthma, but causation cannot be assumed from the maps of asthma and canopy cover. We chose these data to represent potential health benefits of tree cover because the NYS Department of Health (2011) indicated that two common triggers for asthma are vehicle exhaust and air pollution. The NYSDOH states that when these asthma triggers are reduced or eliminated, then asthma symptoms are reduced and lung function improves. Similarly, Brown and Grant (2005) assert that since trees are oxygenators that remove particulates and chemicals from the atmosphere, they are significant in controlling or potentially lowering asthma rates. Therefore, these data will ideally help us answer the question: where might tree-planting efforts help alleviate high rates of asthma?


The maps show that the rate of asthma per 10,000 people is highest in the age group 17 and younger. Generally, the neighborhoods that align with the highest reported hospital discharge rates are Southside, Brighton, North Valley, and South Valley (keep in mind that the data is at ZIP code level; thus, the rates are not reported by neighborhood). In the age group 18-64, the highest discharge rates per 10,000 people were found in the western portion of the City of Syracuse (i.e. Park Ave, Lakefront, Near West Side, Tipp Hill, and Westside neighborhoods). In the oldest age group, people above age 65+, the higher discharge rates per 10,000 people were in the northern part of the City of Syracuse and in the Downtown/Southside/Brighton/North and South Valley neighborhoods. Urban forestry, which removes particulates and chemicals from the atmosphere, could potentially lower the rates of asthma in these areas (Brown & Grant, 2005; NYS Department of Health, 2011; Center for Environmental Health, 2005).

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