210867 Health improvements from green rehabilitation of low-income housing in Minnesota

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:50 AM

David E. Jacobs, PhD , National Center for Healthy Housing, Columbia, MD
Jill Breysse, CIH , National Center for Healthy Housing, Columbia, MD
Sherry L. Dixon, PhD , National Center for Healthy Housing, Columbia, MD
Carol Kawecki , National Center for Healthy Housing, Columbia, MD
Susan Aceti , National Center for Healthy Housing, Columbia, MD
William Weber , Center for Sustainable Building Research, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Jorge Lopez , Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, Slayton, MN
Recently, new standards have been developed to bring green and healthy housing principles into housing rehabilitation, but resulting environmental and health improvements have not been adequately characterized. We incorporated ventilation improvements (planned fresh air supply and tight building envelop), low volatile organic compound (VOC) building materials, radon mitigation, integrated pest management, Energy Star bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, moisture/mold reduction, energy conservation and other measures into the rehabilitation of a low-income housing development in Minnesota. Health questionnaires and visual assessments were conducted shortly after residents moved into renovated units and were repeated 12 to 18 months later. The questionnaire was drawn primarily from validated national survey instruments from CDC and HUD. In adults (n=49) there were large and statistically significant improvements in self-reported general health, chronic bronchitis, hay fever, sinusitis, and asthma (p<0.05). Hypertension in adults also improved, achieving marginal statistical significance (p=0.083). In children (n=29), there were also large improvements in general health, children's respiratory allergies, and children's ear infections. There were also reported improvements in comfort, safety and ease of housecleaning. Some of the children's health and other improvements did not consistently reach statistical significance , most likely due to the small size of the study population or the more indirect assessment provided by the child's caregiver. Levels of radon and VOCs were all low following the green rehabilitation. Use of green healthy homes practices in low-income housing rehabilitation achieves important health gains and reduced exposure to toxicants.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the components of healthy housing green rehabilitation of low-income housing Assess the resulting health benefits to occupants

Keywords: Housing, Healthy Buildings

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator for this study and have written and spoken publicly on this issue. Selected publications include: Dixon SL, Fowler C, Harris J, Moffat S, Martinez Y, Walton H, Ruiz B, Jacobs DE. 2009. An Examination of Interventions to Reduce Respiratory Health and Injury Hazards in Homes of Low-Income Families. Env Research 109: 123-130 Jacobs DE, Dixon SL, Wilson JW, Smith J, Evens A. 2009. The Relationship of Housing and Public Health: A 30 Year Retrospective Analysis in the US. Environ Health Perspect. 117: 597-604. Gaitens JM, Dixon SL, Jacobs DE, Nagaraja J, Strauss W, Wilson JW, Ashley PJ. U.S. Children’s Exposure to Residential Dust Lead, 1999-2004: I. Housing and Demographic Factors Associated with Lead-contaminated Dust, Env Health Perspect 117: 461-467 (2009) Dixon SL, Gaitens JM, Jacobs DE, Strauss W, Nagaraja J, Pivetz T, Wilson JW, Ashley PJ. U.S. Children’s Exposure to Residential Dust Lead, 1999-2004: II. The Contribution of Lead-contaminated Dust to Children's Blood Lead Levels, Env Health Perspect 117: 468-474 (2009) Mucha AP, Stites N, Evens A, MacRoy PM, Persky VW, Jacobs DE. 2009. Lead dustfall from demolition of scattered site family housing: Developing a sampling methodology. Env Res 109(2): 143-148. Contributing Author, Healthy Housing Inspection Manual, 2008. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Atlanta, GA. Jacobs DE. Healthy housing standards: Fragmentation or Harmonization? Keynote Address. Proceedings of the 5th Warwick Healthy Housing Conference, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, March 17, 2008
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.