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Creating housing construction practices and standards that minimize asthma triggers: What’s working in New England

Ellen R. Tohn, mcp, ERT Associates & Asthma Regional Council, 5 Fields Lane, wayland, MA 017781, 508-358-7770, e.tohn@comcast.net

New England has the highest regional asthma rates in the country. In response the Asthma Regional Council (ARC) was created to reduce the impact of asthma on children and families across New England through collaborations of health, housing, education, and environmental organizations, with particular focus on the contribution of homes, schools, communities and the disproportionate impact of the disease on low income minority populations. Asthma is an allergic reaction to certain exposures (“triggers”) such as dust, mold, pests (cockroaches, rats, mice), pets (cats and dogs), cold air, and dry heat all of which are found in our housing. In this session we will discuss a strategic regional approach to reduce asthma triggers in housing through changes in construction practices, building standards, and code enforcement. The session will describe key resource materials (ARC’s nationally recognized Building Guidance for Healthy Homes) and collaborations that have resulted in state and local housing agencies/organizations in four states adopting healthy homes building practices in their construction/design standards affecting over 1000 housing units constructed annually and over 14,000 units under management. A second initiative involves training and leveraging sanitary/housing code inspectors to ensure that asthma triggers are evaluated and violation notices target the key steps to improve the property. Finally, the session will describe efforts to remediate housing-based health threats for asthma in 60 housing units in Boston, MA and 25 units in Vermont using a model that can build upon existing lead hazard control or asthma programs.

Learning Objectives: The three key learning objectives of this presentation are

Keywords: Asthma, Healthy Buildings

Related Web page: www.asthmmaregionalcouncil.org; www.buac.org

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Asthma Regional Council's Building Guidance for Healthy Homes
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Environment as Social Capital Affecting Health Status

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA