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2000 News Releases



Release Date: 11/6/2000
Contact Information: Leo Kay, U.S. EPA Press Office, 415/744-2201, Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, SF County Dept. of Health, 415/252-3818

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the San Francisco County Department of Health $100,000 today to help asthma sufferers and their families identify and reduce indoor environmental triggers of asthma.

   The funding will allow project staff to conduct environmental assessments in the homes of some 200 asthma sufferers, and educate them on steps they can take to reduce sources that cause or exacerbate the condition.  County inspectors will perform room-by-room examinations to find potential sources of the individual's environmental asthma triggers, which include dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, mold, and secondhand smoke.  Simple tools and resources are provided to help clients reduce home allergen levels, such as allergen-impermeable covers for mattresses and pillows, vacuum bags and cleaning supplies.

     San Francisco County has an estimated asthma prevalence 1.5 times the national average, resulting in approximately 15,000 children with asthma in the city of San Francisco.  These rates are highest among African-American children, and rates among Latino and Asian and other children ethnic groups are among the highest in the state.

     "This project will ultimately allow thousands of children in San Francisco to breathe easier just by having families take a few simple steps in the home," said Felicia Marcus, regional administrator for the EPA's Pacific Southwest Office.  "Asthma is awful, but attacks often can be prevented with decent medical care and attention to the home environment.  We look forward to working with the county department of health to get this project underway."

     "The San Francisco Department of Public Health is enthralled about this opportunity to help improve the home environments of San Francisco residents with asthma," said Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, director, Occupational and Environmental Health Sections of the Department of Public Health, San Francisco.  "These resources from the EPA will assist us in ensuring that our work can reach those most in need and can developed in a manner that is cost-effective, sustainable, and  consistent with the daily realities of our clients who live with low incomes and  limited housing opportunities."

     "San Francisco Healthy Homes for Healthy Airways" will involve about 200 subjects and be completed in two years.  The project builds on current home-based educational interventions by the Children's Environmental Health Promotion Section of the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the Environmental Health Section by adding evaluation tools to assess the effectiveness and sustainability of low cost, client-maintained strategies for in-home environmental asthma trigger management.

     Referrals are received from a network of health care providers affiliated with the San Francisco Department of Health's health care delivery system, including San Francisco General Hospital and seven neighborhood health clinics that provide primary care to many low-income families in San Francisco.

     San Francisco was one of only two cities nationwide to receive funding under this EPA program.  Philadelphia was the other.