Fighting asthma in poor neighborhoods

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

Asthma is a serious problem in Buffalo.

We’ve reported in the past about the sky-high asthma rates on the West Side in neighborhoods near the Peace Bridge. The East Side isn’t much better, according to some of those studies.

Both sections of the city are poor and susceptible to respiratory illnesses.

Consequently, the Environmental Protection Agency teamed up with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to educate low-income families on ways to reduce asthma triggers in homes. The EPA provided a $54,840 grant that the Community Foundation matched. The money will help 80 families.

Judith Enck is the Environmental Protection Agency's regional administrator for Region 2, which includes Western New York.

Judith Enck is the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator for Region 2, which includes Western New York.

Judith Enck, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Northeast, was in Buffalo Thursday morning meeting with a family on Goethe Street where an 11-year-old child suffers from asthma.

In coordination with the Erie County Department of Health, asthma specialists assessed the home for other triggers and installed an air flow meter to measure the home’s ventilation.

Enck came to Buffalo to follow up with the family to see the positive results from the program.

Foundation members showed Enck how the home’s chimney, hot water tank, windows and walls were repaired to reduce asthma triggers and improve the indoor air quality. Asthma can be triggered by various conditions in a home, including mold, rodents, insects and pet dander.

“About one out of every 12 people in this country has asthma, and children are especially vulnerable,” Enck said in a prepared statement.

“It is vitally important that people understand the warning signs of an asthma attack, reduce asthma triggers in their homes and follow the advice of their healthcare providers.”