U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Lauds Erie County’s Asthma Intervention & Education Program


From the Office of the Commissioner of Health,  Dr. Gale Burstein

November 7, 2013

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/ Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Lauds Erie County’s Asthma Intervention & Education Program

Judith A. Enck Visits Buffalo Family Dealing with Asthma & Poor Indoor Air Quality

ERIE COUNTY, NY— U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator, Judith A. Enck joined Erie County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale Burstein, representatives of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and a Buffalo family to highlight the organizations’ 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. The Green & Healthy Homes initiative is a public-private partnership between federal, state and local governments, the National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and local non-profit partners.

“Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease that affects millions of people,” stated Dr. Burstein. “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 management of conditions that trigger asthma attacks and medical treatment.

“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 and the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) 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 ECDOH, Jeremy Huber, an ECDOH Supervising Public Health Sanitarian and certified Asthma Educator, assessed the home for asthma triggers. He then 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.

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