Asthma Basic Information
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects almost 25 million Americans, including approximately 7 million children. Although asthma cannot be cured, it can be controlled both through effective medications and by controlling environmental asthma triggers.
The Connection Between Health and Housing
There are many health problems related to housing conditions. Asthma triggers. including house dust mites, furry pets, pests such as cockroaches and rodents, secondhand smoke, and mold are all found in the home environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air. Because research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors managing triggers in the home is important in asthma management.
Asthma education and environmental assessments are important in asthma management. To effectively control asthma it is important to address environmental asthma triggers in the indoorenvironment. The American Academy of Pediatrics is aware of this factor and provided funding for a home visitation program. Social workers with Children’s Hospital in Birmingham will visit the homes of 100 asthmatic children in the Birmingham area, and help to evaluate asthma triggers.
Conducting home assessements through a visitation program addresses environmental triggers -- connecting primary care of asthmatic children to self-management in the home. The Community Asthma Initiative at Children’s Hospital Boston is a recent example showing the success of home assessments. The program has been conducted in two predominantly low-income neighborhoods and positive results are reflected in a reduction in ER visits, a reduction in admissions and a reduction in missed school days. Alabama’s project hopes to replicate some of Boston’s successes by improving asthma management and control.
Donna Shanklin and Laura Booth, Alabama Cooperative Extension System faculty, delivered the National Center for Health Housing's Healthy Homes for Community Healthworkers course to help train those social workers and others in identifying asthma triggers. The training provided tips, tools and action steps for those going into homes to help reduce environmental triggers of asthma.The training involved hands-on exercises in which participants identified actual pictures of home health hazards and practiced giving tips to consumers to enable them to implement some low-cost solutions. Shanklin and Booth work with the Healthy Homes Partnership Project, an interagency project funded by the Housing and Urban Development Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.
Submitted by Laura B. Booth, MEd, HHS,Healthy Homes Partnership Coordinator, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Environmental Health Programs, 219B Duncan Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849.Telephone 334-844-5638 firstname.lastname@example.org
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