Volume 3: December 2010

Expanding Healthy Homes-Healthy Children (HHHC)

written by Katie Huser ’11 & Ashley Baronner ’13

Ashley Baronner begins to analyze the lead samples.

HHHC is an ongoing project that aims to protect and support family health by reducing the incidence of childhood diseases linked to asthma and allergens from mold, lung cancer from radon, and lead poisoning from lead paint, which may cause learning disabilities, stunted growth, and even behavioral problems.

HHHC offers free in-home assessments to test for lead, mold, and radon, and provides families with test results and ways in which to reduce their levels of these three hazardous substances. HHHC also offers educational outreach programs to schools, preschools, daycares, and at community events such as the Crawford County Fair, so that students are informed about these household hazards, as well as other household concerns such as nutrition. Over the past five years HHHC has conducted ongoing research to effectively assess the risks and dangers of environmental hazards in the Crawford County region, and has deciphered successful strategies to reduce these environmental risks.

During the summer of 2010, we undertook several projects including completion of an estimated 40 in-home assessments and establishing the beginning framework for Katie’s senior comprehensive project in Environmental Science. Katie ran lead samples through the AAS (atomic absorption spectrometer) machine, and with her help we were able to keep up-to-date with the home assessments for approximately 40 families in the Crawford County area.

Another focus this summer was to sustain the Parents’ Advisory Council (PAC) created last year by meeting with local parents. The PAC will continue to act as a support network for our program. This summer we also spent time researching ways to expand our in-home assessment procedures to go beyond lead, mold and radon tests. In the future, we would also like to expand our practices beyond a one-time home visit, so that we can return to a home for an intervention after a year has passed to see what the family has done to become “healthier.”

This summer we also worked on extending HHHC programs to include a nutrition and physical activity component as part of our in-home assessments. By reaching out to families in rural and low-income areas, we hope to identify children with nutrient deficiencies, and assist them in developing a more balanced and nutritious diet. We hope that this addition to the program will also help decrease the likelihood of chronic diseases and health concerns linked to obesity in Crawford County. As part of this new program, a food journal, an extended participant survey, and feedback materials to assist families in creating a healthy home environment were developed. By identifying imbalances of food consumption and physical activity, nutrient deficiencies, and unhealthy behaviors, more families will have the knowledge and resources they need to improve their lifestyles.