Asthma is one of the leading causes of disease and death in children. Many researchers have found that most asthma cases are developed in the early years of life. In 2013, children in Ontario ages 0 to 4 had the highest rates of asthma incidence (17/1000) compared to all age groups (2/1000). This is mainly due to the fact that young children are more vulnerable to the toxins and allergens in the air as their lungs are fragile and developing. Exposure to indoor air allergens is one of the main risk factors of childhood asthma. These allergens are present in poor-quality housing where there is mold, pests, smoke, or excessive dust.
Children living in low-income families are more likely to live in poor-quality housing and develop asthma. This is because they tend to live in housing that is inadequate due to its age and poor maintenance, increasing their risk of exposure to indoor air allergens and asthma attacks. This link is supported by the Ontario Asthma Surveillance Information System (OASIS) data, which shows that low-income groups have higher rates of asthma prevalence and asthma-related hospitalization than middle- and high-income groups. Childhood asthma is a huge burden on the healthcare system, contributing to over 1/3 of the total OHIP expenditure for asthma.
International research has demonstrated that improving indoor air quality within a household has shown promise in reducing the frequency and severity of childhood asthma attacks. Currently, there is a need to identify types of effective interventions on indoor air quality that could reduce childhood asthma rates in Toronto’s privately-owned, low-income aging rental apartments. These aging rentals house 46 percent of Toronto’s low-income families with children, and are declining in housing quality. As such, targeting children within this setting could demonstrate an immense impact on childhood asthma rates.
This project uses applied research and integrated knowledge translation activities to provide evidence informed solutions regarding interventions on indoor air quality that could improve childhood asthma in Toronto.
First, a systematic review will be conducted to identify what interventions on indoor air quality have shown to reduce the incidence and severity of childhood asthma. This review will produce an evidence-based framework presenting a spectrum of interventions that demonstrate an impact on childhood asthma.
Second, a policy brief will be developed with experts to identify which interventions on indoor air quality could work for Toronto. This product will be developed out of a solutions lab, where experts will score and rank interventions based on applicability and feasibility criteria, and identify an implementation approach.
This project aims to reduce childhood asthma rates by improving indoor air quality for families with children living in Toronto’s privately-owned, low-income aging rental apartments. This project contributes to the larger goal of urban health equity by improving the living standards of priority populations.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can look out for my project findings in July.
Dhvani Katakia • @DhvaniKatakia
Dhvani is passionate about improving population health through public policies. Dhvani holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Toronto where she was also a CIHR Fellow in Public Health Policy. In the past, Dhvani has attained experience in research, policy, and community development. She has conducted mental health research within academia and policy analysis at federal and provincial public health departments. She has also facilitated various community health programs within local and international settings. Dhvani’s experiences and interests are in child and family health, healthy public policies, and action-oriented research. As a Wellesley Junior Fellow, Dhvani is interested in addressing the root causes of child health inequities in Toronto.