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Keep Dampness Out - Don't Give Asthma A Home


Tuesday 15 March 2005, 8:30 am

Cuba St Bucket Fountain, Wellington


Would anyone allow a bucket of water to be poured into their home every day of the year?

That's the question the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation wants New Zealanders to answer as it launches Asthma Awareness Week at 8.30 am, on Tuesday 15 March.

At Cuba Street Fountain on Tuesday morning, a trail of 365 buckets of water will be displayed and some tossed out by celebrities to show commuters and pedestrians the need to keep dampness out of homes, making them dry, warm and much healthier.

The average Kiwi home produces around 10 litres of moisture every day - 3,650 litres a year. Moisture leads to common asthma triggers like mould, with up to 50% of New Zealand homes having serious mould, and many homes being cold and well under World Health Organisation recommended warmth levels.

New Zealand already has one of the highest asthma rates in the world - 25% of our children, and over 15% of the New Zealand population as a whole.

Associate Minister of Health Pete Hodgson will attend the launch to promote healthy homes, an initiative involving the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation and supported by Contact Energy.

Recent New Zealand research by the Wellington School of Medicine links the health of our homes with our health. Healthy homes keep damp out, heat in and have clean air. Living in a healthy home helps reduce visits to hospitals, doctors and days off work and school - and healthy homes are more energy efficient and provide an improved lifestyle.

Asthma Awareness Week will outline the often simple steps New Zealanders can take to ensure their homes are healthy by being dry, warm and pollution-free.

Dame Silvia Cartwright, Governor-General of New Zealand and Patron of the Foundation, said "Asthma continues to be a major health issue for far too many New Zealanders. The efforts of the Foundation in the treatment and management of respiratory conditions are extremely important, and I applaud the contributions that corporate sponsorship of the Foundation's work will make in helping them address asthma issues."

Health Minister Annette King says she supports the messages in the campaign. "We all know some of these preventative measures are simple, relatively cheap and effective. I support the passing on of these ideas; simple easy steps that ultimately will help New Zealanders modify their home environments and protect their families against respiratory diseases."

Ms King says the Government is already contributing to a 'Healthy Homes' initiative for insulating qualifying houses. Insulated homes are healthier for asthmatics. This funding is $1.0 million in 2004/05, rising to $2.0 million in subsequent years.

"It is a tragedy that many of our homes could be making us sick," said Jane Patterson, Executive Director of the Foundation. "New Zealand's climate and poorly insulated houses add to the problem. Nearly 50% of Kiwi homes have mould, and many are damp and cold - all leading to more colds and 'flu, and aggravating asthma and other respiratory conditions. We should not give asthma a home," she said.

Contact's Chief Executive, Stephen Barrett added, "Making a home healthier doesn't have to cost the earth - a few simple changes will reap benefits for everyone at home, even if they don't have asthma or another condition. A healthy home is an energy-efficient home, and as New Zealanders spend around 80% of their time indoors, it is important they use energy efficiently to enhance their health and lifestyles".

Raybon Kan, another Cuba Street launch celebrity attendee and person with asthma, said "Even though I have asthma I've learnt a lot about how to make a home healthier. I'm hoping the Asthma Foundation pays for me to get a maid".


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