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Residents with Asthma

Housing Inspection through Breathe Easy at Home

The map shows housing inspection violation categories of the homes referred to the Breathe Easy at Home program in the City of Boston at ZIP Code level from 2015 to 2017. Click each ZIP Code to see the details.

How are asthma and housing related?

Substandard housing conditions, characterized by mold and pest infestations, are known to be associated with asthma.1 Mold sensitization may play a role in developing severe asthma attacks.2Cockroaches and rodents that can cause allergic sensitization are indoor asthma triggers particularly in urban neighborhoods. Also, chronic dampness tends to develop an attractive environment for mites, roaches, molds, and respiratory viruses.1 As children are more susceptible to asthma attacks than adults,3 substandard housing conditions that pose health and safety risks to families of children with asthma need to be promptly addressed.


What is Breathe Easy at Home?

Breathe Easy at Home is a program implemented by the City of Boston (through a partnership between Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Inspectional Services Department) which aims to resolve substandard housing conditions for residents with asthma, particularly families with children who are affected by asthma. Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals can refer patients with asthma to the program if they suspect poor-quality housing conditions may be triggering asthma symptoms in children. Housing inspections and follow-up inspections are provided to the referred residents to address code violations and ensure better living conditions. Learn more about Breathe Easy at Home from the City of Boston official site.


What is in the map layout?

(1) Three layers of maps by year (the top layer: 2017). As the map reflects the cases referred to the program, it does not necessarily provide the full picture of Boston's housing inspection violations. Moreover, a majority of referrals come from a few neighborhoods, which results in those neighborhoods also representing a majority of the violations.

(2) By clicking each ZIP Code, counts of grouped violation categories can be seen. The detailed grouping of violation categories is as below.

- Pest: (a) Roaches, (b) Insects, and (c) Rodents

- Bedbug

- Building Safety: (a) Debris, (b) Structural, (c) Drafty Doors/Windows, and (d) Emergency Violations (e.g. lack of/missing smoke detectors or carbon monoxide alarms)

- Mold & Dampness: (a) Chronic Dampness, (b) Mold/Black Substance, and (c) Stained/Bubbling Ceiling/Leaking Walls

- Ventilation & Odor: (a) Ventilation and (b) Odor

- Other Types


Data Source:

Division of Healthy Homes & Community Supports, Boston Public Health Commission (2018);

Boston Inspectional Services Department (ISD) (2018).



1. Krieger J, Higgins DL. Housing and health: time again for public health action. American Journal of Public Health 2002;92(5):758-68.

2. O'Driscoll BR, Hopkinson LC, Denning DW. Mold sensitization is common amongst patients with severe asthma requiring multiple hospital admissions. BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2005;5(1):4.

3. Claudio L, Tulton L, Doucette J, et al. Socioeconomic factors and asthma hospitalization rates in New York City. Journal of Asthma 1999;36(4):343-50.

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