2022 Indoor Air Quality Mini-Grants: Building Systems to Improve Indoor Air Quality


In an ongoing effort to improve health in indoor home environments by reducing exposures to common indoor air contaminants, including radon, mold and moisture, dust mites, environmental tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke), pests, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), combustion byproducts (e.g., CO and NO2), and other emerging indoor air quality (IAQ) issues, the National Center for Healthy Housing awarded grants to six communities as part of its Building Systems to Improve Indoor Air Quality initiative.

Under the initiative, funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the five communities selected for the full mini-grant will each receive a bundled award of coaching and support over 18 months that includes on-call access to technical assistance from a network of national experts, opportunities to engage in peer learning, and a $15,000 grant. One additional semi-finalist awardee will receive a $5,000 grant and optional access to the same coaching and supports over the 18-month project period.

The awarded projects will help communities build local capacity and advance evidence-based efforts to improve indoor air quality through policy and systems change. Specific projects include activities to strengthen local policies and housing codes, enhance code enforcement activities, develop new programs to increase available resources, expand accessible data to increase community engagement and drive action, and reform local Community Development Block Grant allocations.

Each project demonstrates a commitment to advancing health equity and racial justice while supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) environmental justice goals to ensure that all people enjoy “the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”

The 2022 award recipients will complete their proposed activities by November 30, 2023.

The 2022 Grantee Finalists

The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI), Coos Bay, Oregon
The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) are made up of three tribes (four bands): two bands of Coos Tribes (Hanis Coos and Miluk Coos), Quuiich (Lower Umpqua) Tribe, and Sha’yuushtl’a (Siuslaw Tribe). The grant will be used to support the CTCLUSI community, which resides throughout the tribes’ five county service areas: Coos, Curry, Douglas, Lane, and Lincoln counties. Improving indoor environments is one of the objectives that will help the tribes achieve one of their long-term goals, which is to maintain and improve environmental quality. The customized coaching and support from NCHH will add validity and effectiveness to CTCLUSI’s efforts to improve the indoor air environment for tribal members and their families through systems of change and updating the indoor air quality code. The tribes’ air quality program will work closely with the CTCLUSI Tribal Council through regular meetings in regards to the air quality needs of tribal members. The tribes will engage in community participation and provide direct access to air quality data and how to improve health.

GreenRoots, Chelsea, Massachusetts
GreenRoots is a resident-led, grassroots organization with over 25 years of achieving environmental justice and public health victories in Chelsea and East Boston. GreenRoots’ mission is to achieve environmental justice and greater quality of life through collective action, unity, and youth leadership. With funding from the National Center for Healthy Housing, GreenRoots will expand their air quality pilot project to gather more indoor air quality data. Their project will focus on three major objectives: (1) to monitor indoor air quality in homes of families experiencing respiratory and cardiovascular disease; (2) to visualize data in a way that is accessible to all, including limited English-proficient individuals; and (3) to implement innovative strategies to reduce the impact of indoor air pollution on environmental justice populations.

Mississippi Communities United for Prosperity (MCUP), Montgomery, Mississippi
Mississippi Communities United for Prosperity (MCUP) and its partners work collaboratively to improve the quality of life and health of Mississippians through education, intergenerational leadership development, planning, and sustainable community and economic development activities. MCUP envisions historically excluded communities that are treated equitably in public policies and the allocation of public and private investments. Under this project, MCUP hopes to drive equitable and inclusive public policies and investments into high-poverty BIPOC communities in Mississippi by working collaboratively with residents, elected officials, and kindred stakeholders to build support for refunding a statewide air quality control program, strengthening local building codes based on healthy homes guidance, and reforming local Community Development Block Grant allocations.

San Juan Basin Public Health, Durango/Pagosa Springs, Colorado
San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is the local public and environmental health agency for Archuleta and La Plata counties in Colorado and also provides environmental health services to smaller surrounding counties. SJBPH’s mission is to advance health equity and help its approximately 70,000 residents to achieve their fullest health potential. As a goal of this project, SJBPH hopes to be able to provide resources to the public when households and workplaces are struggling with indoor air quality problems; in the long term, SJBPH believes that indoor air quality can be improved by treating it as a sanitation problem with collective responsibility, as the public health system treated the clean air and clean water challenges of the 20h century.

Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, Los Angeles, California
Through education and outreach, organizing, and policy implementation, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) is building a movement for change that addresses the root causes of structural oppression to create a more just economy for all. For more than 25 years, SAJE has worked along side with communities in Los Angeles to advocate for tenant rights, healthy housing, and equitable development. SAJE will use this grant to strengthen and improve housing code enforcement in unincorporated Los Angeles County. Keeping buildings code compliant helps eradicate contaminants, such as mold and lead, that are harmful to the air we all breathe but that disproportionally affect low-income renters of color. To institute better code enforcement, SAJE will organize tenants who, because of poverty, language barriers, and historic lack of access to civic processes, are often ignored during the design stage of such initiatives. With technical support and legal advice, SAJE will help translate their ideas and suggestions for code improvements into an actionable plan for the county.

The 2022 Grantee Semi-Finalist

University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota
Radon, a radioactive gas naturally produced by uranium in rocks and soil, enters homes through cracks in the foundation and can accumulate there, particularly in cold weather, when homes are sealed.  Radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer after smoking and the first among non-smokers. Due to the high radon content of its soil and the long winters, radon is especially problematic in states like North Dakota. As the state’s flagship institution, the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine and Health Sciences, believes that UND should become a national leader to address radon issues. UND’s initial goal for this award is to make digital radon detectors available for Grand Forks residents by establishing a radon detector lending library, in collaboration with the Grand Forks Public Library. These detectors provide “real time” radon results that do not require sending a kit to the laboratory and waiting for results. Our long-term goal, if this approach is successful, is to extend the program to other public libraries across the state.


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Latest page update: September 14, 2022.