Healthy Homes & Healthy Families
Unhealthy housing conditions may seem like cosmetic problems. But hazards can lurk where you least expect them: peeling paint can contain lead, too much moisture can result in mold, and clutter can shelter insects and rodents. Some deadly hazards are invisible like carbon monoxide and radon.
But there is some good news- you can help yourself to a healthy home!
Eight Principles of Healthy Homes
Damp houses provide a nurturing environment for mites, roaches, rodents, and molds, all of which are associated with asthma.
Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants.
Recent studies show a causal relationship between exposure to mice and cockroaches and asthma episodes in children; yet inappropriate treatment for pest infestations can exacerbate health problems, since pesticide residues in homes pose risks for neurological damage and cancer.
The majority of injuries among children occur in the home. Falls are the most frequent cause of residential injuries to children, followed by injuries from objects in the home, burns, and poisonings.
Chemical exposures include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and environmental tobacco smoke. Exposures to asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide, and secondhand tobacco smoke are far higher indoors than outside.
Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.
Poorly maintained homes are at risk for moisture and pest problems. Deteriorated lead-based paint in older housing is the primary cause of lead poisoning, which affects some 535,000 U.S. children.
Tenants and homeowners are at risk for various health problems related to prolonged exposure to excessive heat or cold when their homes do not maintain adequate temperatures.
Everyone needs a healthy home. But there are special reasons to think about children:
• Children’s bodies are still growing. Their young brains, livers, and other organs are more likely to be harmed by chemicals and other dangers than those of adults. If children get sick, it may be harder for them to get well because their immune systems are still developing.
• For their size, children eat more food, drink more water, and breathe more air than adults do. When they get lead in their bodies or breathe in harmful gases, they get a bigger dose than adults would.
• Children play and crawl on the ground. That means they are closer to many things that might cause health problems, like dust and chemicals. Babies and young children also put most everything in their mouths—things that might have chemicals or lead dust on them.