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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU's SoAHEC wins $25,000 grant to promote healthy homes

New Mexico State University's Southern Area Health Education Center has received a $25,000 grant from the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission to promote healthy homes throughout Southern New Mexico.

"There is a lot that we don't think about when we are in our homes," said Beatriz Favela, the program operations director for SoAHEC, which is part of NMSU's College of Health and Social Services. "Many people in our rural communities are just happy to have a place to live and do not consider the dangers that could be in their own homes."

The Healthy Homes program promotes housing-related health and safety through community training. Examples of housing-related health issues include lead paint, proper food preparation and safety techniques, and asthma triggers, such as dust, pests, inadequate ventilation and even stuffed animals and carpets that are not properly cleaned. The goal of the program is to increase the quality of life for families in New Mexico.

"SoAHEC has worked tirelessly to build these mutually beneficial relationships that result in much needed support to our community," said Jennifer Cervantes, assistant dean for advancement at NMSU's College of Health and Social Services.

"We teach them what a healthy home is and why it's important," Favela said. "Over the past several decades, research has shown a strong connection between poor housing conditions and health problems, such as asthma, lung cancer, lead poisoning and other injuries."

The program focuses on pregnant mothers, children, low-income families and the agencies that serve them. Participants learn to avoid clutter in their homes as a way to reduce dust and to not leave dirty dishes out over night in order to avoid insects and other pests. Environmentally friendly cleaning products also are important. Favela said many household cleaners have harsh chemicals that are not good to breathe. For certain tasks, using baking soda, lemon juice or water works just fine.

The Border Environment Cooperation Commission works in collaboration with the North American Development Bank. They were both created in 1993 under a side-agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement to enhance the environmental conditions of the U.S.-Mexico border region and advance the well-being of residents in both nations.

SoAHEC has participated in the Healthy Home program for more than 10 years. In 2003, it was awarded the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission's Border Models of Excellence Award.