Study Links Weatherization to Improvements in Health for Children with Asthma

Kansas City, Mo. (July 25, 2023) – Results from a new preliminary study indicate that weatherizing living spaces can dramatically improve children’s health by improving indoor air quality and reducing exposure to outdoor air pollutants. The research project came about due to previous work and research of the Children’s Mercy Kansas City (CMKC) Healthy Home Program, where hospital staff witnessed positive health outcomes with many of their young asthma patients whose families had enrolled in the program and received healthy home education,
resources and repairs

Dr. Elizabeth J. Friedman, MD, Medical Director of Environmental Health at CMKC said, “This is a great example of both how much our built environment can impact our health and why it is so important to consider our patients’ lives beyond our clinic walls. I am looking forward to reading more about this fascinating study.”

Weatherization is a building upgrade process that keeps indoor air in and outdoor air out. A good weatherization upgrade keeps you safe and comfortable in your home, no matter what the weather is doing. For nearly a decade, Kansas City-based nonprofit Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC) administered weatherization and energy efficiency renovations under various partnerships, including the City of Kansas City, MO’s EnergyWorks KC (EWKC) program.

A research partnership with MEC, CMKC and the Center for Economic Information at the University of Missouri Kansas City (CEI) brought even bigger data to the table for a more comprehensive picture of potential health improvements. Staff at CMKC and CEI matched MEC-weatherized homes with CMKC historic health data for acute care visits in children with asthma living in the homes. A research database maintained by CMKC provided encounter-level historic pediatric asthma data, and the CEI team collected additional geographic and census data
as part of the KC Health CORE research collaboration with CMKC.

The team compared frequency and severity of healthcare visits before and after the upgrade and found “as much as a 33% reduction in the frequency of acute care visits for children with asthma” who resided in homes that received energy efficiency improvements.

Kevin Kennedy, Environmental Health Program, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, said that for their patients’ families, the preliminary report indicates that “even if you participate in a program like this weatherization program just to make improvements to your home, and not because you were thinking about a health impact, there can also be big improvements in your health, especially if you have a chronic respiratory condition like asthma.”

Kelly Gilbert, Executive Director of MEC said, “this stunning result demands more research to discover which home upgrades have the biggest impact on health, and we look forward to supporting that work in the future.” The research team is preparing to develop and submit a peer-reviewed academic report with the goal of publication in a research journal later this year.

The preliminary report is available at



About Metropolitan Energy Center:
MEC is a nonprofit based in Kansas City, Missouri, that is dedicated to creating resource efficiency, environmental health, and economic vitality in the Kansas City region. MEC works in built environments and transportation systems to improve energy efficiency and energy usage practices. MEC offers technical assistance, information and education to improve the health and wellness of all people who occupy the buildings, roads and outdoor spaces affected by emissions in the Kansas City region. From advocacy about energy technologies to coordination of energy-related workforce development opportunities, MEC commits to connecting promising energy efforts to the best resources available, until our region realizes a completely clean-energy society. MEC has been doing this work in cooperation with area nonprofits, municipalities, community organizations and businesses since 1983.

About Children’s Mercy Kansas City
Founded in 1897, Children’s Mercy is a leading independent children’s health organization dedicated to holistic care, translational research, educating caregivers and breakthrough innovation to create a world of well-being for all children. With not-for-profit hospitals in Missouri and Kansas, and numerous specialty clinics in both states, Children’s Mercy provides the highest level of care for children from birth through the age of 21. U.S. News & World Report has repeatedly ranked Children’s Mercy as one of “America's Best Children's Hospitals.” For the fifth consecutive time in a row, Children’s Mercy has achieved Magnet nursing designation, awarded to only about 8% of all hospitals nationally, for excellence in quality care. More than 850 pediatric subspecialists, researchers and faculty across more than 40 subspecialties are actively involved in clinical care, pediatric research and education of the next generation of pediatric subspecialists. Thanks to generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children’s Mercy provides hope, comfort and the prospect of brighter tomorrows to every child who passes through its doors. Visit Children’s Mercy and the Children’s Mercy Research Institute to learn more, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for the latest news and videos.

About KC Health CORE:
KC Health CORE is a data sharing collaborative between the Environmental Health Program at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and the UMKC Center for Economic Information. The collaborative received important financial support from HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and the Health Forward Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

About EnergyWorks KC:
This material is based upon work supported, in whole or in part, by the Department of Energy – Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under Grant Award Number DE-EE0000758 (“EnergyWorks KC”) from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program made ava