Ray Lopez, Director of our Environmental Health Services, will be leading the team to implement a newly awarded grant from the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). That grant, given in partnership with Columbia University and the New York Academy of Medicine, will explore effective interventions to remove asthma triggers from homes in East Harlem. This coincides with the completion of a prior grant from HUD, given to LSA in partnership with the New York Academy of Medicine, to examine the effectiveness of LSA’s asthma prevention model. This was the first time HUD ever funded a grant to combat indoor conditions that exacerbate asthma.
Below, Ray shares some of his thoughts on the new grant and what it means for LSA families.
The HUD grant specifically addresses household conditions that cause asthma. What conditions do LSA health workers encounter when they make home visits?
Our health workers make an average of 5 home visits a week, each. They see conditions such as cockroach and mice infestations, mold and dust, which trigger asthma symptoms in both children and adults.
We go in and help the families identify and address the underlying causes. For example, a mold condition might be the result of a leaky roof. We’ll loan the family an air filter, help them clean up the mold, and work with them to advocate for repairs with their building management. Education is a big part of our intervention. If a family is using strong chemicals that trigger asthma symptoms, like bleach or ammonia, we teach them alternative cleaning methods that are safer.
What did LSA’s first HUD grant accomplish and what will this new grant do?
The first HUD grant put our program to the test. We asked the NY Academy of Medicine to evaluate our program and to tell us if it works. The results confirm that our good intentions actually, statistically benefit families.
With the new HUD grant, we’ll be looking at excessive moisture conditions and mold growth more closely. First, we are going to study if our mold intervention is effective. We’ll evaluate the education we provide to families and what we do in the home to reduce people’s exposure to mold. We want to make sure that what we do removes harmful mold from the air and in turn, makes people healthier. We’ll also try new methods for testing mold.
What results do you expect to see from this new research?
I hope that the grant will help us to improve our intervention in order to give our families the maximum benefit.
We want to continue to provide the best possible services to our families, and this grant will ensure that we do just that. The EHS team is excited to participate in the study. The grant will give us added confidence that the good work we do from our hearts is also backed by scientific evidence.
What kind of feedback do you get from clients?
Almost all of the clients we see tell us how thankful they are for the service we provide. We know that, going forward, they’ll be better equipped to manage their children’s asthma and maintain healthy conditions in their homes.