Asthma is one of the most common serious chronic diseases of childhood. In the United States alone, an average of one out of every 10 school-aged children have asthma. It is a leading cause of hospital emergency department visits and school absenteeism, with more than 10.5 million school days missed annually. In a continued effort to raise public awareness of the risks faced everyday by the 7.1 million children with asthma living in the United States, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is joining with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to participate in Asthma Awareness Month and World Asthma Day.
Asthma is a chronic lifelong disease that affects the lungs, causing coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Asthma attacks cause kids to miss school and adults to miss work. These dangerous and sometimes life-threatening episodes reduce the quality of life for people with asthma.
Although asthma cannot be cured, families can prevent asthma attacks by reducing their exposure to triggers, such as extreme temperatures, pollen, dust, mold, tobacco smoke, chemical odors and pests. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 40% of all incidents of asthma are attributable to home-based environmental health hazards. Ensuring that your home meets the eight elements of a green & healthy home—dry, clean, safe, well-ventilated, pest-free, containment-free, well-maintained and energy efficient—can prevent asthma attacks in your home and keep your children in school, healthy and ready to learn.
GHHI works with families to provide appropriate tools and techniques for reducing indoor asthma triggers. Controlling asthma triggers in your home can be easy if you know how! We realize that some asthma trigger issues can require a financial investment that not all families have, especially concerning severe mold and ventilation problems. GHHI also provides low-income families with free home repair services to address asthma triggers. Each home is inspected for asthma triggers, safety hazards and energy inefficiencies with a customized scope of work developed based on the home assessment. Repair services could include mold remediation, weatherization and integrated pest management, and in-home education may cover smoking cessation, cleaning techniques and asthma medication management.
We recently published our program results in the Environmental Justice journal and it shows that our intervention model has helped keep kids out of the hospital and get them back to the classroom. By addressing asthma triggers in the homes of children with chronic asthma, we have been able to reduce asthma related hospitalizations by over 60% and emergency department visits by 25%. There was a 62% increase in participants reporting asthma-related perfect attendance for their child (i.e. zero school absences due to asthma episodes) as well as an 88% increase in parents never having to miss a day of work to care for a sick child with asthma.
Help us spread asthma awareness, this month and every day, by sharing our informational pages on asthma triggers, the eight elements of a healthy home and or healthy homes quiz. For additional information on asthma prevention, visit the EPA.org or AsthmaCommunityNetwork.org.
 Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Children: National Health Interview Survey, 2011 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/
 National Surveillance of Asthma: United States, 2001-2010 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_035.pdf
 Environmental Justice, Vol 7. Number 6, 2014. Green & Healthy Homes Initiative: Improving Health, Economic and Social Outcomes Through Integrated Housing Intervention.