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ANTHC awarded the inaugural HUD Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes

July 24, 2015

ANTHC was among four organizations that were recently recognized with an inaugural United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes, which recognizes excellence in healthy housing innovation. On July 13, HUD Secretary Julián Castro presented ANTHC with the award and recognized the four awardees for their work.

“From reducing secondhand smoke to improving the lives of children with asthma and allergies, these organizations are leading the way in creating healthy environments for families to thrive,” Castro said.

In 2011, ANTHC Environmental Health set out to reduce respiratory medical care among high-risk rural Alaska Native children by addressing the home environment through a targeted Healthy Homes program. ANTHC received the award for the program’s interventions to improve air quality and create healthier housing conditions in rural Alaska] homes where acute respiratory disease is prevalent. The modifications included addressing mold and moisture issues, improving ventilation, replacing old woodstoves with more efficient models and providing education to encourage healthy practices.

Over the past three years, ANTHC has implemented the Healthy Homes program in 63 homes located in eight different communities. Preliminary results indicate important reductions of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds and in particulates found in the indoor air following implementation of the interventions in the home. In addition to cleaner air, the interventions resulted in fewer clinic visits as well as less days of school missed due to respiratory problems.

Thanks to the program, many noteworthy changes in practice have been implemented. Environmental health professionals, housing specialists, and pulmonologists now work together to address respiratory disease; housing authorities install passive ventilation in rural Alaska homes more frequently; and environmental health professionals emphasize healthy homes education for residents as a strategy to improve respiratory health.

“This award validates our efforts in improving the home environment, resulting in healthier Alaska Native kids, said Jeff Smith, ANTHC Director of Environmental Health Support. “We are honored to be recognized.”

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