National Center for Healthy Housing Urges Families to Follow the Seven Principles of Healthy Housing and Make Health Housing a Priority
COLUMBIA, MD | 10-1-09 – PRNewswire
According to new research from the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH), the majority of U.S. families (67%) live in a home with at least one major health risk.
NCHH recently surveyed adults (aged 18 and older) to gauge their levels of awareness of the common health and safety hazards found in many homes. The results reveal that although most people realize serious health problems may result from the way their homes are built and maintained, they have not taken action to create a healthy and safe home environment for their loved ones.
In response to the new research, NCHH is encouraging families to make healthy housing a priority and promoting the Seven Principles of Healthy Housing as a guideline for parents and caregivers to help them create healthier home environments. The seven principles include keeping homes dry, clean, ventilated, contaminant-free, pest-free, safe, and maintained.
“With nearly six million U.S. homes in substandard housing, many families are at risk of housing-related disease and injuries,” said Rebecca Morley, National Center for Healthy Housing executive director. “Raising awareness and empowering families to upgrade the health and safety conditions in their own homes is important, but we also need stronger regulations and greater investment from the private sector to ensure that healthy housing is available to all.”
Recognizing that unhealthy housing conditions can take a significant and irreversible toll on the health and safety of occupants, NCHH is offering expert advice to help families apply the Seven Principles of Healthy Homes in their own homes.
Principle 1: Dry
Damp homes provide a nurturing environment for mites, roaches, rodents and molds, all of which are associated with asthma.
To keep the home dry, NCHH recommends the following:
Place dehumidifiers in basements and other damp spaces to remove excess moisture.
Repair downspouts to drain water away from the foundation and prevent moisture intrusion.
Place a water alarm near the sump pump or hot water heater to notify of flooding or water leaks.
Work with a drywall professional to repair any water damage to reduce mold growth and maintain structural soundness.
Principle 2: Clean
Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants.
NCHH offers the following tips to help keep the home clean:
Place a mat on the inside and outside of every door that leads to the outside.
Purchase and clean with non-toxic cleaning supplies.
Clean up dust to eliminate contaminants such as lead dust, allergens, and chemical residues. Pay particular attention to cleaning refrigerator drip pans and range hoods.
Principle 3: Ventilated
Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.
To keep the home ventilated:
Install exhaust fans in bathrooms and over the range in the kitchen and vent them to the outside.
Vent dryers to the outside to reduce moisture build up.
Principle 4: Contaminant-Free
Chemical exposures include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and environmental tobacco smoke. Exposures to asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide, and second-hand tobacco smoke are far higher indoors than outside.
To keep the home free from contaminants, NCHH suggests:
Avoid smoking inside.
Test for radon in the lowest level of your home to prevent lung cancer from radon exposure. Learn more about radon and how to receive a discounted radon home test kit by contacting your state radon office at www.epa.gov/radon or call 1-800-SOS-Radon.
Hire a professional to test for lead in homes built before 1978. Call 1-800-424-LEAD to find a professional in your area.
Principle 5: Pest-Free
Exposures to pests in the home, such as mice and cockroaches, have been linked to asthma episodes in children. Since pesticide residue in the home brings risks for neurological damage and cancer, NCHH cautions against using pesticides and instead encourages parents and caregivers to take the following steps:
Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a safer and usually less-costly option for effective pest management. It includes:
Reducing sources of food, water, and shelter for pests by filling cracks and crevices with copper mesh, expanding foam, cement, and caulk.
Using trash cans with sealable covers to prevent rodent and pest infestation.
Avoid spraying and fogging, which are harmful to your health.
Principle 6: Safe
The majority of injuries among children occur in the home. Falls are the most common cause of residential injuries to children, followed by injuries from objects in the home, burns, and poisonings.
To prevent home injuries, NCHH recommends the following actions:
Install nightlights in dark hallways and bathrooms to help prevent falls.
Install non-skid pads under carpets to help prevent slips, trips, and falls.
Place a smoke detector on each level of the home, including the basement to prevent fire-related deaths.
Place a carbon monoxide alarm on each floor of the home to protect against carbon monoxide poisonings. Place the alarms outside sleeping areas and at least 15 feet from heating or cooking appliances.
Set water heater thermostats to 120 °F or below the “medium” setting and install anti-scald devices in water faucets and shower heads to prevent scalds.
Principle 7: Maintained
Poorly maintained homes are vulnerable to moisture and pest problems. Deteriorated lead-based paint in older housing is the primary cause of lead poisoning, which affects approximately 240,000 U.S. children.
NCHH recommends the following practices to keep the home maintained:
Fix peeling lead-based paint in homes built before 1978. Hire a contractor trained in lead safety for renovations and major repairs to homes built before 1978.
For maximum filtration, replace furnace filters every four months with a minimum energy reporting value (MERV) 11 filter.
NCHH’s healthy homes cost and maintenance check list offers additional tips to create a healthy home. Click here to download the checklist: nchh.org/pdf
The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) is the only national scientific and technical nonprofit organization dedicated to creating healthy and safe homes for children through practical and proven steps. NCHH develops scientifically valid and practical strategies to make homes safe from hazards, to alert low- income families about housing-related health risks, and to help them protect their children.
Media Contact: Phillip Dodge, 443.539.4168, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE National Center for Healthy Housing
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