The last of four Habitat for Humanity houses built across the United States as part of the Build Smart, Breathe Easier national asthma education program is located in Atlanta. Program partners Merck, Habitat for Humanity-North Central Georgia, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and HGTV's Carter Oosterhouse were part of the dedication program in which Joyce Obele, her mother, Cecelia, and her six children, received the keys to the home.
Joyce and her six children are working to rebuild their lives after two devastating events, the loss of their home and Cecilia's cancer diagnosis. The family's contribution to building a house with asthma-healthy features is particularly important because two of Obele's daughters suffer from asthma.
Based on principles from AAFA's asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program, the house incorporates asthma-healthy features using specific building techniques, materials and ventilation systems. Some of these elements include:
- Vinyl floors that do not require adhesive (except at the seams), thus reducing the overall level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the house
- Paint with a VOC-free, antimicrobial finish, which helps prevent the adherence of mold or bacteria and has no lingering odor
- Low-VOC cabinetry with solid front face, smooth hardware and extension to the ceiling to eliminate areas where dust can accumulate
- 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
- Moisture resistant backer boards in the bathrooms and kitchen to help prevent mold
- Advanced framing techniques that allow for heavy insulation of the exterior walls and reduce the amount of air and moisture infiltration
- Strip foam insulation around the exterior doors, windows and foundation wall to help reduce air and moisture flow
- Landscape design customized with low pollinating shrubbery and trees, non-wind pollinating flowers and minimal grasses
Merck is also donating modest, AAFA-certified furnishings to the family to help them maintain an asthma-healthy home. These include: asthma & allergy friendly® bedding for everyone in the home, asthma & allergy friendly® toys for the children, and a vacuum with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter suitable for cleaning hard-surface flooring and area rugs.
Three additional houses with asthma-healthy features were dedicated this year in Detroit, Philadelphia and Los Angeles with the help of volunteers and the partner families. The Obele's home is the last Habitat for Humanity house to be dedicated as part of the Build Smart, Breathe Easier program.
"Although this is the final house being dedicated as part of Build Smart, Breathe Easier, this program was designed to extend beyond these four houses to help educate all Americans about simple things they can do at home to help minimize environmental asthma triggers," said Dr. Stanley Fineman, a partner with The Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic (AAAC) and president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "I hope people with asthma feel empowered to make their homes more asthma-healthy and continue to involve their doctors in helping to manage their disease."
Read more about indoor air quality.