Habitat For Humanity’s Los Angeles Affiliate Dedicates New Home For The Asthma and Allergy Foundation Of America And HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse

November 2011
The promotion is called ‘Build Smart, Breathe Easier’ Houses and its purpose is to shed light upon Asthma-Healthy home building and living features. Two of four of these Habitat for Humanity houses built as part of the Build Smart, Breathe Easier national asthma education program were dedicated this past week. In Philadelphia, the house built in partnership with the Johnson family was dedicated on Saturday, November 12; and in Los Angeles, the house built in partnership with the Partida family was dedicated on Tuesday, November 15. Merck, Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse hosted ceremonies, at which each family received keys and toured their completed houses with asthma-healthy features for the first time. To view the multimedia content associated with the story, please click this link.

In Los Angeles, Martha Partida and her family have also struggled with difficult living conditions in their current home, including poor insulation and mold. Some of these issues have become health hazards for two of Martha’s children, Johnathan (6) and Cindy (15), due to their struggles with asthma. Although the family faces numerous challenges in their home life, all of the children excel in school. Martha works as a pediatric service technician caring for children with long-term healthcare issues.

“I am sincerely thankful to have been a part of the Build Smart, Breathe Easier program and am thrilled to move my family into a four-bedroom house after living so long in a cramped space,” said Martha Partida. “The asthma-healthy features of my new home will benefit my whole family, particularly my two children who have asthma.”

Based on principles from AAFA’s asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program, these houses incorporate asthma-healthy features using specific building techniques, materials and ventilation systems. Some of these elements include:

Hard-surface flooring, including wood, linoleum and ceramic tile

Paint with a volatile organic compound (VOC)-free, antimicrobial finish, which helps prevent the adherence of mold or bacteria and has no lingering odor

Cabinetry, counter tops and vanities designed to minimize the emission of VOCs

Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) filters with high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) ratings, which capture more and smaller-sized air particles than filters with lower MERV ratings

A washing machine that reaches water temperatures high enough to kill dust mites and their eggs

Advanced framing techniques that allow for heavy insulation of the exterior walls and reduce the amount of air and moisture infiltration. Expanding foam is also used around the exterior doors, windows and foundation wall to help reduce moisture flow and outside air that may contain additional asthma triggers from entering the house

Additionally, the Partida’s house features blinds in all of the windows, as an alternative to fabric window treatments that can collect allergens, and a synthetic grass lawn and low pollinating plants to help reduce exposure to pollen and other outside allergens

“Build Smart, Breathe Easier goes beyond building new houses by teaching families affected by asthma ways to address common triggers in order to help minimize the impact of the disease,” said Dr. Reynold Panettieri, asthma researcher and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s also important for people with asthma to work with their doctors to determine an appropriate, individualized asthma action plan that fits their needs.”