The first Habitat for Humanity house built as part of the Build Smart, Breathe Easier national asthma education program will be dedicated this Friday in Detroit. The house—built as a partnership between Merck, Habitat for Humanity Detroit, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), and HGTV—is for Betty Dunmore, a single mother, and her three daughters, all who have asthma or experience asthma-like symptoms.

Based on principles of AAFA’s asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program, the house incorporate healthy features using specific building techniques, materials, and ventilation systems. Some of the elements include:

–Wood vinyl floors that do not require adhesive (except at the seams), thus reducing the overall levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the house;
–Paint with VOC-free, antimicrobial finish, which helps prevent the adherence of mold or bacteria and has no lingering odor;
–Plywood cabinets, which emit lower levels of VOCs and require less VOC-emitting adhesive than do standard particle board cabinets;
–Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters with high minimum efficiency report value (MERV) ratings, which capture more and smaller-sized air particles than filters with lower MERV ratings;
–A bath fan and kitchen stove range hood that vent to the exterior of the house to remove excess moisture and indoor air pollution that may impact someone with asthma;
–Advanced framing techniques that allow for heavy insulation of the exterior walls and reduce the amount of air and moisture infiltration. Expanding foam is also used around the exterior doors, windows, and foundation wall to help reduce moisture flow and outside air that may contain additional asthma triggers from entering the house.

Merck is also donating AAFA-certified furnishings to the family to help them maintain an asthma-healthy home, including bedding, toys, a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and washer and dryer.

As part of Built Smart, Breathe Easier, three additional houses with asthma-healthy features are currently under construction in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

Source: Merck