Weatherford Democrat

September 15, 2013

EXTENSION NEWS: Healthy homes are the happiest homes


Weatherford Democrat

— By KATHY SMITH

Would you rather have a home you can afford, or one that is healthy for your family? For many Americans, many families are faced with that decision every day.

For most families in our communities it is important to have homes that are affordable and healthy, including homes for people on limited incomes who are in government-supported housing. Healthy Homes is a concept, promoted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that promotes safe, decent and sanitary housing as a means for preventing illnesses and injury. This concept has been around for more than 100 years. There is evidence, based research, that links health problems such as asthma, lead poisoning and unintentional injuries to substandard housing.

Nationwide, there are more than 6 million substandard homes. Not just older homes are the hazards. Even new high-priced homes might have hazards. Creating a healthy home promotes better health and development of children and can save money in regards to health care costs. Everyone needs a healthy home and some of the most serious health problems for families begin in their home.

There are some simple ways to help make your home a healthier place for you and your family by following these seven HUD Healthy Home Principles:

• Keep your home dry. Damp houses provide an ideal environment for mites, roaches, mice, rats and molds. All of these are associated with asthma.

• Keep your home clean. Clean homes help reduce pest infestation and exposure to contaminants.

• Keep your home pest-free. Studies show a relationship between exposure to mice and cockroaches and asthma in children. However, treatment should be taken that doesn’t create greater health problems. There are many safe ways to prevent pest infestation and to control the problem.

• Keep your home safe. The majority of injuries among children and older adults are falls. Also injuries can occur in the home by burns and poisonings.

• Keep your home contaminant-free. Chemical exposure can include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds and tobacco smoke. Exposures to asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide and second-hand tobacco smoke are higher indoors than outdoors.

• Keep your home ventilated. Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.

• Keep your home maintained. Poorly maintained homes are at risk for moisture and pest problems. Deteriorated lead-based paint in older homes is the primary cause of lead poisoning in children.

Sources: Hud.gov and epa.gov.