Where we live plays an important role in our quality of life. The home is where we eat, sleep, play, and bathe. It is where we raise our families and much of our day is spent in or around our home. In fact, children spend 70% of their time in the home and the elderly spend 90% of their time in the home. Without quality housing people cannot meet their basic needs. They cannot adequately participate in society and for many families poor housing is affecting their health.
The connection between housing and health is well documented with research linking dust, mold, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and pests with asthma; radon and ETS causing lung cancer; lead based paint contributing to child lead poisoning; carbon monoxide and household products causing poisoning; and building deficiencies contributing to falls and accidents. These housing related health and safety hazards have a major impact on communities. They lead to missed school and work days, poor quality of life, and financial hardship. This is especially true for vulnerable populations such as seniors, children, people with disabilities and communities of color, who are disproportionately impacted by poor housing conditions.
Creating a Healthy HomeMany young children spend most of their time at home. There are many simple ways parents can protect their children's health and safety. Infants and toddlers who grow up in safe and loving families tend to become healthy teens and adults. At a very young age, children develop the habits and behaviors that will influence their lifelong health. At home, children can learn good health behaviors, self-discipline, and how to make good health choices. The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends these principals to make your home a healthy environment. keep it:
Dry: Damp houses provide a nurturing environment for mites, roaches, rodents, and molds, all of which are associated with asthma.
Clean: Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants.
Pest-Free: 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.
Safe: 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.
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.
Ventilated: Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.
Maintained: 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 240,000 U.S. children.
Try these healthy living tips:
- Adopt a smoke-free policy in your home.
- Make sure your child cannot reach or get to an area with peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint and make sure there are never paint chips on your floor and carpet.
- Use and store chemicals, household cleaning products, and pesticides according to label instructions and out of reach of children, in a locked cabinet if possible.
- Adopt a no-shoes inside the house policy.
- Install doormats at all entries into the home.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom if your child has allergies or asthma.
- Vacuum carpet and floors frequently and dust surfaces with a damp cloth.
- Supervise young children in bathtubs.
- Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent young children from falling.