Impact of LEED-certified affordable housing on asthma in the South Bronx

Elizabeth Garland, Erin Thanik Steenburgh, Sadie H. Sanchez, Anita Geevarughese, Les Bluestone, Laura Rothenberg, Alexander Rialdi, Mary Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Green housing reduces energy costs and may mitigate indoor allergens and pollutants, improving asthma morbidity. High asthma burden is seen in low-income neighborhoods. Past studies show improvements in respiratory symptoms when living in green homes. Objective: Develop partnership with Blue Sea Development Company to determine impacts of living in Melrose Commons V (MCV), a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-certified affordable housing complex, on asthma in the South Bronx. Methods: Participants completed a home-based respiratory health questionnaire before moving into MCV. Follow-up occurred at 6, 12, and 18 months post-move. A home-based educational module was delivered on indoor environmental interventions to avoid asthma triggers. A pretest was given before the module and a posttest was given 9 months later, including an evaluation of behavioral practice changes. Results: Outcomes included decreases in continuous daily respiratory symptoms (p<.001), asthma symptoms disrupting sleep in the past month (p=.028), and urgent visits to a healthcare professional for asthma in the past 3 months (p=.038). Clinically relevant outcomes included fewer days with asthma symptoms; asthma episodes; days of work, school, or daycare missed; and emergency department visits. Education changes from pretest to posttest included increased knowledge about dust mites, roaches, mold, and chemical irritants (p=.007). Common behavioral changes included using hypoallergenic mattress covers, using green cleaning products, and eliminating bedroom carpets. Conclusions: Findings support the beneficial effect of LEED Platinum-certified buildings on respiratory health. Trends may be clinically and economically relevant. Advocacy efforts should promote the expansion of green housing and emphasize the development of healthy communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalProgress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Community health research
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Environmental health
  • Lung diseases


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