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EPA and Buffalo Community Foundation Team Up to Prevent Asthma Attacks Results of $55,000 EPA Asthma Education Grant Highlighted

Release Date: 11/07/2013
Contact Information: Michael Basile (716) 551-4410; basile.michael@epa.gov, Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator, Judith A. Enck joined representatives of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and a Buffalo family to highlight the organization’s successful efforts to reduce indoor air pollution that can trigger asthma attacks. The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo is utilizing a $54,840 grant from EPA to conduct an asthma intervention and education program in low-income Buffalo homes through the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, a public-private partnership between the federal, state and local governments, the National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and local non-profit partners. Today’s home visit was a follow-up with a family that benefited from the program.

Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease that affects millions of people. It causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and nighttime or early morning coughing that can be set off by indoor or outdoor air pollution. It can be managed if people understand the environmental triggers that can affect their health and take steps to reduce them. Common asthma triggers include second-hand smoke from cigarettes and cigars; dust-mites; mold; cockroaches and other pests; pesticides; pets; and smog, soot and chemicals in outdoor air. Although there is no cure for asthma, people with the disease can lead active lives and can control their symptoms through medical treatment and the management of conditions that trigger asthma attacks.

“About one out of every twelve people in this country has asthma, and children are especially vulnerable,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “It is vitally important that people understand the warning signs of an asthma attack, reduce asthma triggers in their homes and follow the advice of their healthcare providers. EPA applauds the efforts of community organizations like the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo to improve environmental conditions in people’s homes and protect their health.”

Regional Administrator, Judith Enck got a first-hand look at the Foundation’s asthma intervention work during a visit today with a Buffalo family with a history of respiratory and asthma problems. Through the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, work has already been conducted in the home to reduce indoor air quality issues, including repairs to the property’s chimney, hot water tank, windows and walls.

Using a streamlined and coordinated approach with Erie County Department of Health, the home was then assessed for asthma triggers by an asthma education specialist who made recommendations, including the use of mattress and pillow covers, pet dander wipes, hypoallergenic cleaning products and the installation of an air flow meter to measure ventilation. The family is following the recommended asthma intervention plan and today’s visit was a follow-up to assess the effect of the changes on the family’s health.

The EPA grant provides financial assistance to the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to provide services to 80 families as part of a larger initiative to provide comprehensive home repair, rehabilitation and education services to low-income families in the City of Buffalo. The Community Foundation has matched the EPA grant focused on improving the health of the families that participate in the program by reducing their exposure to asthma triggers.

A healthy home should be clean, dry, well ventilated and pest and contaminant free. The EPA recommends important top steps people can take to reduce asthma triggers and prevent asthma attacks:

  • Don’t smoke, or if you do smoke, take it outside. One of the most common asthma triggers in the home is second-hand smoke.
  • Control dust in your home. Dust mites can get into mattresses, pillows, carpets and furniture. For mite control, cover mattresses and pillows with dust-proof covers, wash bedding once a week in hot water and vacuum frequently.
  • Limit contact with household pets. If someone in your family has asthma, keep pets out of the bedroom and off furniture and vacuum often.
  • Get rid of cockroaches and other pests. Roaches and other household pests are often found around water and food in kitchens and bathrooms and areas where paper goods like newspaper and cardboard are stored. Clear clutter from surfaces and storage areas, store food in sealed containers, seal cracks around or inside cabinets and use non-toxic methods to get rid of pests.
  • Keep your home dry to prevent mold. Wash and dry hard surfaces to prevent and remove mold and replace moldy ceiling tiles and carpet. Opening windows or using an exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathroom when cooking, washing dishes or showering will keep moisture down and help prevent mold from forming.
  • Pay attention to EPA air quality warnings. Ground level ozone (smog), which often forms during summer months, and particle pollution (soot) in the outdoor air can cause asthma attacks. Follow the Air Quality Index (AQI), a daily report of air quality that is posted online at airnow.gov and often provided by weather forecasters on radio and TV. When AQI reports unhealthy levels, people should limit outdoor activities.

Read about award-winning community-based asthma programs: http://www.epa.gov/asthma/awards.html

More information on the EPA’s asthma program: http://www.epa.gov/asthma

To learn more about the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, visit: http://www.greenandhealthyhomes.org

En espaņol, visite: http://www.epa.gov/espanol/saludhispana/asma.htm