The UMass Lowell Center for Community Research and Engagement works closely with the Lowell community to promote the health and overall well-being of the residents.

Healthy Homes for Elders

Studies show that asthma is under-diagnosed among senior citizens and that asthma-related morbidity and mortality among the elderly is increasing. The goal of this study is to measure the effectiveness of providing the elderly in Lowell public housing with interventions such as educational materials, mattress and pillow covers, green cleaning supplies, HEPA vacuum cleaners and pest control items to improve health and reduce medical costs. The researchers will collect health data – symptoms, medication use, emergency room visits – on approximately 90 senior citizens with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease before any interventions. After conducting a home environmental assessment that includes testing dust samples, measuring nitrogen dioxide and evaluating cigarette smoke exposure, the research team will recommend improvements to residents. After one year, the team will evaluate the impact of the interventions on indoor air quality, asthma trigger activities, respiratory health and quality of life.

Lowell Healthy Homes Programs

By adopting a coordinated, comprehensive and holistic approach, the Lowell Healthy Homes Program aims to reduce the burden of asthma, improve the quality of life for asthmatic children and their families, and create safer home environments. The program focuses on several housing issues including mold and mildew, pest management, dust mites, and home safety. The program works with families in Lowell that have at least one asthmatic child under the age of 15, over a 10-month period to remediate potential asthma triggers, while providing education related to asthma mitigation and prevention. 

Published in 2014 in the American Journal of Public Health, a study by Prof. Turcotte with multiple collaborators evaluated the health outcomes of Greater Lowell low-income children and developed cross-cultural interventions to improve housing quality. The strategies were shown to save nearly $1 million in health care costs annually. A US Department of Housing and Urban Development grant awarded in 2016 supports a three-year study to assess the sustainability of positive health outcomes due to home-environment improvements, based on the interventions implemented by the Healthy Homes Program. 

For more information please contact David Turcotte.