Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 50–67 | Cite as

Asthma and the home environment of low-income urban children: Preliminary findings from the seattle-king county healthy homes project

  • James W. KriegerEmail author
  • Lin Song
  • Timothy K. Takaro
  • James Stout
Special Feature: Urban Home Environment and Health Original Articles: Housing and Health



Childhood asthma is a growing public health concern in low-income urban communities. Indoor exposure to asthma triggers has emerged as an important cause of asthma exacerbations. We describe indoor environmental conditions related to asthma triggers among a low-income urban population in Seattle/King County, Washington, as well as caregiver knowledge and resources related to control of these triggers.


Data are obtained from in-person, structured, closed-end interviews with the caretakers of children aged 4–12 years with persistent asthma living in households with incomes less than 200% of poverty. Additional information is collected during a home inspection. The children and their caregivers are participants in the ongoing Seattle-King County Healthy Homes Project, a randomized controlled trial of an intervention to empower low-income families to reduce exposure to indoor asthma triggers. We report findings on the conditions of the homes prior to this intervention among the first 112 enrolled households.


A smoker was present in 37.5% of homes. Mold was visible in 26.8% of homes, water damage was present in 18.6% of homes, and damp conditions occurred in 64.8% of households, while 39.6% of caregivers were aware that excessive moisture can increase exposures to allergens. Dust-trapping reservoirs were common; 76.8% of children's bedrooms had carpeting. Cockroach infestation in the past 3 months was reported by 23.4% of caregivers, while 57.1% were unaware of the association of roaches and asthma. Only 19.8% of the children had allergy-control mattress covers.


Many low-income urban children with asthma in King County live in indoor environments that place them at substantial risk of ongoing exposure to asthma triggers. Substandard housing and lack of resources often underlie these exposures. Initiatives involving health educators, outreach workers, medical providers, health care insurers, housing agencies, and elected officials are needed to reduce these exposures.

Key words

Asthma Child Indoor Air Pollution Indoor Environment Knowledge/Behaviors Low-Income Populations 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Krieger
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Lin Song
    • 1
  • Timothy K. Takaro
    • 2
    • 5
  • James Stout
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Seattle Partners for Healthy Communities/Public Health-Seattle and King CountySeattle
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health ServicesUniversity of WashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsUniversity of WashingtonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Environmental HealthUniversity of WashingtonUSA

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