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Your Environment. Your Health.

Simulation Helps Prioritize Housing Interventions Based on Health Outcomes & Costs

Jonathan Levy, Sc.D.
Boston University and Harvard University
NIEHS Grant R21ES017522

An NIEHS grantee and colleagues used their pediatric asthma model to simulate the effects of environmental factors, medication compliance, seasonality, and medical history on indoor pollutant concentrations and asthma outcomes. The simulation provided information that can be used to prioritize individual and building interventions based on how they affect health outcomes and costs.

The researchers applied their previously developed discrete event simulation model of pediatric asthma to estimate the potential effect of multiple building interventions in low-income multifamily dwellings. They focused on comparing health care use with the estimated costs of implementing interventions. Interventions such as integrated pest management and repairing kitchen exhaust fans could lead to 7 to 12 percent reductions in serious asthma events with payback periods of one to three years. Weatherization efforts aimed only at tightening the separation between the interior and the exterior environments of a building would lead to 20 percent more serious asthma events. However, combining this weatherization with repairing kitchen exhaust fans and eliminating indoor pollution sources mitigated this effect.

The researchers say that their findings can increase physicians' understanding of the effect that home environmental changes have on asthma, thus bridging the gap between environmental health and clinical science.

Citation: Fabian MP, Adamkiewicz G, Stout NK, Sandel M, Levy JI. 2014. A simulation model of building intervention impacts on indoor environmental quality, pediatric asthma, and costs. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Jan;133(1):77-84.

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