HUD Awards Grant to Help Combat Asthma in Children

October 6, 2011

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Columbia University $650,000 to conduct studies on the prevalence of asthma in children in their home and neighborhood.  The funding will support efforts to control asthma and allergy triggers such as mold, dust mites, pollution, and moisture.  Matthew Perzanowski, PhD, associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, is the lead scientist on the project.

The funding announced today is part of $18 million in grants that HUD is awarding nationwide to clean up health hazards in thousands of homes, train workers, and increase public awareness about reducing and preventing health hazards in American homes.

“HUD is committed to providing healthy and safe homes as part of our mission to help make communities across America, such as in New York City and its neighborhoods, healthier and more sustainable,” said HUD Regional Administrator Adolfo Carrión. 

Columbia University will use the funding to follow a group of asthmatic children living in a variety of neighborhoods in New York City for three years (from ages 7-8 to ages 10-11) as part of the New York City Neighborhood Asthma and Allergy Study (NYC NAAS).  The research will assess changes in lung function and an airway inflammation biomarker and will test the following hypotheses:
•    Children living in high-asthma-prevalence neighborhoods will have more asthma symptoms and less lung function growth than children living in lower-asthma-prevalence neighborhoods;
•    Household black carbon (a surrogate for combustion by-products) and household allergen exposure will be associated with less lung-function growth and greater airway inflammation;
•    Density of truck routes and buildings burning residual oil will be associated with less lung-function growth. 

“This study should advance our understanding of the environmental exposures that cause great disparities in the prevalence and severity of asthma seen from one NYC neighborhood to another,” said Dr. Perzanowski, whose research is focused on understanding exposures that lead to allergic sensitization and asthma. Dr. Perzanowski has been a co-investigator on several established prospective cohort studies globally. His current research focuses on exposures that contribute to asthma in inner-city NYC; which has one of the world’s highest asthma rates.