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Urban Environmental Program in New England

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition in which the narrowing of the bronchial tubes in the lungs leads to wheezing and difficulty breathing. Environmental factors – such as mold, mildew, pet dander, environmental tobacco smoke, cockroaches, dust mites, vehicle exhaust and industrial and power plant emissions – can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease that affects the quality of life for millions of Americans. Although there is no cure for asthma yet, asthma can be controlled through medical treatment and management of environmental triggers.

Grants & Projects

2007: Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (Bridgeport)
"Healthy Indoors/AIRS, Bridgeport"
$35,000
The Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ) is a nonprofit founded in 1998 with a mission to improve urban environmental health through education, promoting changes in policy and through individual, corporate and government responsibility towards protecting the environment. In 2006, CCEJ efforts were expanded to create the Fairfield County Environmental Justice Network to service the needs of residents in Bridgeport, CT. Bridgeport has nearly double the state average rate of asthma hospitalization and over twice the number of emergency room visits due to asthma attacks compared to the state average. This project proposes to address asthma and indoor environmental quality by educating local residents on asthma (signs, symptoms and triggers), conduct targeted home visits to assess risk, reduce exposure to health hazards, and build a safer and healthier indoor environments. This project relies on the design of the asthma indoor risk strategies (AIRS), a demonstrated program from the Department of Public Health which follows the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute guidelines for diagnosis and management of asthma. By applying proven methods, this project will reduce in-home exposure to toxics for families in Bridgeport that improve indoor health, the project will focus on asthma and reducing exposures to health hazards including mold, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, insecticides, and lead.

Measurable Results: Expected short term results for the project include: 60-70 families will be identified as candidates for home visits due to one member with physician-diagnosed asthma; 40 families will receive home visits every 6 months and follow up calls every 3 months; 90% of homes visited will report taking specific actions to improve the quality of indoor environments, and 100% of the 40 families visited will report improved management of health issues such as asthma, lead exposure and pesticide/household cleaners..

Partners: Bridgeport Asthma Council and Bridgeport Department of Healthy and Social Services.


2006: Torrington Area Health District (Torrington, CT)
Regional Asthma Coalition Healthy Indoor Environment Project
$10,000
Torrington Area Health District seeks to promote and protect the physical and environmental health of the residents of the northwest corner of Connecticut. The “Regional Asthma Coalition Healthy Indoor Environment Project” will conduct public awareness and educational activities to improve indoor air quality and reduce asthma triggers among the region’s Latino population, with an emphasis on serving children under the age of five and the elderly population. Activities will include distributing Spanish and English educational packets through Charlotte Hungerford Hospital to new mothers, Women and Infant Care (WIC) program recipients, HeadStart families, childcare center users, women enrolled in childbirth classes, elderly housing residents, local media channels, and at several community events. Direct trainings will be provided for regional home health aides and day care providers, and at senior centers.

Measurable Results: Educational packets in English and Spanish will be distributed to 2,000 parents and community members on indoor air quality improvements, asthma triggers, and secondhand smoke, in both Spanish and English; media messages will reach 10,000 area residents through five newspapers, two radio stations, and two TV stations; measurable increase in number of Headstart children in smoke-free surveyed homes; measurable decrease in number of asthma triggers in homes of surveyed WIC/Family Strides recipients; 25 people enrolled in smoking cessation classes; smoke-free home pledges from 500 community members.

Partners: Education Connection Early Headstart Programs, La Via Latina, Family Strides Early Intervention Program, Torrington Women and Infant Care Program, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital Women’s and Children’s Service, Litchfield County Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women’s Health Care, Torrington (Elderly) Housing Authority


2006: Health Department, Town of Wareham (Wareham, MA)
Smoke-Free Homes Campaign
$30,000
The project will train staff and partners to involve their clients in a smoke-free pledge campaign, which will provide smokers with Smoke-Free Homes kits in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Focus groups will be conducted with clients who signed the pledge and those who did not, to discuss challenges and barriers to maintaining smoke-free homes which reduces family exposure to indoor toxics and improves the quality of the indoor environment. A town media campaign will also be developed and deployed which will include posters, press releases, and town bus advertisements to raise public awareness about Smoke-Free Homes and available resources.

Measurable Results: Training of 70 partnering staff at four training sessions; at least 466 interventions over the course of the year; at least 245 families will pledge to maintain smoke-free homes, with monthly follow-ups to check progress; 75% of pledging families will remain in smoke-free homes after 1 year; all smokers will be referred to smoking cessation services; focus groups conducted with 8-12 enrollees and 8-12 non-enrollees to determine motivation for and barriers against participation in the campaign.

Partners: Cape Cod Child Development Program (Wareham Head Start), Wareham Child Care, Little Peoples’ College, Wareham Women and Infant Care Program


2006: Lexington Public Schools (Lexington, MA)
Healthy Schools: Inside and Out Automated Training and Mentoring Program
$30,000
The project will improve indoor air quality in all Lexington Public Schools (LPS) by implementing Tools for Schools (TFS) training, improving IAQ procedures, and implementing an IAQ monitoring and reporting system which will improve the quality of the indoor environment for local children and school staff. The project will also develop a paperless, automated Tools for Schools system to increase the program’s efficiency, sustainability, and accessibility of data for patrons.

Measurable Results: Development of automated TFS system serving nine schools, 6,300 students, and 1,000 employees; develop PowerPoint training and communication tools to educate school staff on IAQ issues; Lexington-based program will be converted to regionally based TFS program; Lexington Green Pages website developed for use as a TFS resource and for region-wide online discussions of school IAQ issues; development and implementation of training and mentoring program for school staff in TFS database program; 5 Year IAQ Assessment Schedule for school use submitted to EPA for possible integration into TFS; annual LPS information events; and conversion of cleaning products to green products through staff education.

Partners: Stand for Children, Lexington Education Association, Town of Lexington


2007: Southern Rhode Island Area Health Education Center (Newport)
"Healthy Residents, Healthy Homes"
$35,000
The Southern Rhode Island Area Health Education Center (SRI/AHEC) will serve as the fiscal agency for the project which will be managed by the East Bay Community Action Program. The "Healthy Residents, Healthy Homes" project will continue activities to assess, understand, and reduce asthma and environmental health issues facing residents in public housing. The project will convene and support an active workgroup on resident health and environmental quality in Newport public housing, develop and expand a tool to assess current environmental conditions and asthma burden in public housing units, establish Healthy Homes Response Teams to connect families to appropriate resources and promote better environmental practices in Newport public housing units, and promote the "Healthy Residents, Healthy Homes" model for use in other Rhode Island cities. The project ultimately aims to fully incorporate these tools and practices into the regular procedures and operations of the Newport Housing Authority to service public housing residents.

Measurable Results: Expected results for the project include: 65% resident response rate to Park Holm residential units; enroll and serve 40 new families at Park Holm and 25 residents from Donavan Manor, Pone Avenue and Earl units; Response Teams meet twice a month to establish case management system; conduct six-month follow-up and referral to all 65 participants; recruit and develop four Resident Champions to build capacity of residents to improve health and environmental conditions.

Project Partners: East Bay Community Action Program, Asthma Regional Council of New England, Rhode Island Department of Health, Newport Housing Authority, and Community Asthma Programs of Hasbro Children's Hospital


2006: East Bay Community Action Program (Newport, RI)
Newport Healthy Residents, Healthy Homes
$30,000
East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP) provides health, social, and community services to the residents of Rhode Island’s East Bay. EBCAP focuses on environmental health and asthma as two key areas for improvement in resident health in public housing. The “Newport Healthy Residents, Healthy Homes” project will develop and provide a model to the Newport Housing Authority (NHA) for use in assessing and reducing asthma and environmental health issues facing residents in public housing. The project will convene and support an active workgroup on resident health and environmental quality in NHA housing, develop a tool to assess current environmental conditions and asthma burden in public housing units, establish Healthy Homes Response Teams to connect families to appropriate resources and promote better environmental practices in NHA, and promote the “Healthy Homes, Healthy Residents” model for use in other Rhode Island cities. The project ultimately aims to fully incorporate these tools and practices into the regular procedures and operations of the Newport Housing Authority to service public housing residents.

Measurable Results: Workgroup convenes 8 times; 100% of residential units (696) surveyed at Chapel Terrace housing; Response Teams meet 10 times to establish case management system; Response Teams contact 20% of families for follow-up and referral to appropriate resources; NHA adopts 5 policy changes to promote asthma-friendly environments; Healthy Homes Healthy Residents model is presented at Housing Authority Directors Association meeting to reach 8 Housing Authority Directors.

Partners: Newport Housing Authority, Newport County Healthy Communities Initiative, Asthma Regional Council of New England, Rhode Island Department of Health


2006: Hartford Park Residents Association (Providence, RI)
Hartford Park Asthma Education Project
$15,000
The Hartford Park Residents Association serves the residents living in the Providence Housing Authority’s Hartford Park development in Providence, RI. The “Hartford Park Asthma Education Project” seeks to increase resident awareness of asthma and asthma triggers in their homes and the neighborhood. The project will provide residents with a greater understanding of ways to reduce asthma triggers and improve the quality of life for residents and families with asthma by improving the quality of the indoor environment. The project will engage two residents to serve as full-time community contacts to distribute educational brochures, identify households with asthma sufferers, develop an asthma support group, and identify existing housing apartment conditions and household practices which may contribute to indoor environmental problems. The information gathered will serve as a foundation to identify common problems and develop asthma management plans for residents. Education and training for residents will include information on asthma triggers and management techniques to reduce exposure to risks and indoor toxics.

Measurable Results: Two multi-lingual brochures provided to Hartford Park’s 548 residents; formation of support group to educate residents and families with asthma sufferers; assessment of public housing conditions in Hartford Park; distribution “Clean Bags” to group members with asthma-friendly cleaning supplies; identifying action plans for at least 25 households to decrease asthma triggers and asthma attacks.

Partners: Providence Housing Authority

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