911 data show show breathing and wheezing calls dot Detroit

There were few places in the City of Detroit where Detroit EMS did not respond to a call related to breathing and wheezing problems between January 1, 2010 and August 26, 2012.  there were about six neighborhoods in the western portion of the city and six other neighborhoods throughout the city that exhibited a high frequency of breathing and wheezing-related EMS calls. Aside from these 12 areas, the majority of the city exhibited a fairly low frequency of breathing and wheezing related calls.

Breathing and wheezing problems can be brought on from asbestos, mold and moisture, Volatile Organic Compounds, carbon monoxide, and tobacco smoke, amongst other health issues. Asthma can also bring on breathing and wheezing problems; this was examined in an earlier Drawing Detroit post.

The information used in this post was collected and provided by the City of Detroit. It was analyzed as part of the ongoing efforts of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative-Detroit to identify hazards and health challenges emerging from housing problems.  The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative-Detroit (GHHI) aims to reduce housing related health-risks through “comprehensive home-based assessments and interventions, public outreach and education, and local partnerships.” Three GHHI target areas—CLEARCorps’ North End and Crossman area, Osborn and Southwest–are examined in this post. Of these three, the Osborn neighborhood had the highest frequency of breathing/wheezing related calls, while the Southwest target area had lower frequencies. locations.

Please click all maps to enlarge them

The map above shows the frequency of all Detroit EMS calls about wheezing and difficulty breathing made between January 1, 2010 and August 26, 2012. Areas north of Michigan Avenue and east of Gratiot appear to have more challenges. One area with the highest frequency is just across the river from Belle Isle (306, 152, 202). There is also a string of Census tracts near downtown that have particularly high numbers of calls (Counts of 911 calls:202, 306, 330) .

The next six maps below show in more detail the distribution and frequency of calls made to the Detroit EMS regarding breathing and wheezing in the target areas for the Detroit Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI). For each area a dot map of locations (To preserve privacy, the precise addresses are not shown.) followed by a map shaded to reflect frequencies for Census tracts.

The CLEARCorps target area above is located in Detroit’s north end/central Woodward neighborhood; it is  bordered by Linwood (west), Webb/Woodland (north), I-75 (east), and  Grand Boulevard (south). In this target area, there was one Census tract neighborhood with the highest frequency of calls (167) and two with the second highest frequency rating (150 and 130). The remainder of the target area is comprised of locations with a lower frequency of calls.

The Osborn area has a high frequency of calls. This area, which is in the upper east side of the city, contains two Census tracts (with frequencies of 164 and 163) with a very high frequency of breathing/wheezing related calls. Almost every other tract in the Osborn neighborhood was in either either the second or third highest category for frequency of calls. The only exception was a Census tract in the middle of the area, which had a low frequency (38).

The Southwest target area has no tracts with the highest frequency of breathing/wheezing related calls, though some areas have over 100 calls. The entire area is shaded in the low and middle portion of the frequency spectrum.

Dealing with the challenges

The challenges identified in these maps are partly the result of exterior and interior hazards though age of residents or disease processes are also likely to explain part of these numbers. Outside the home, dust, pollution and pollen can create breathing problems. Inside the home, mold, insects, pets and smoke are among the most important risk factors. GHHI concentrates on removing these hazards from home to make them safe for vulnerable populations, typically children and the elderly.


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