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National Healthy Homes Conference to Address How to Improve Common Hazards

From Asthma to Bedbugs

All across America, there are homes that can actually harm those who live in them. From lead-based paint that can poison children, to cancer-causing radon, to cockroach and bedbug infestations.

Next month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is hosting a National Healthy Homes Conference in Denver that will explore the latest research and interventions from dozens of public health, housing, and environmental experts from more than 200 organizations.

From June 20-23, these experts will present findings on how to produce healthier housing for people living with disabilities, including a growing number of adults with autism who are confronted with the lack of supportive housing options.

Its shocking that the leading causes of preventable death, disease and disability are right in our own homes, said HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims. Home ought to be a place where we feel safest, not a place where were most likely to get sick or be injured. We need an honest conversation about supporting efforts to improve the health and safety conditions in our homes.

Asthma, lead poisoning, house fires, falls and drowning in bathtubs are just a few of the hazards that families face. For example, studies find that mold, cockroaches and dust mites trigger more than 4.5 million cases of asthma each year, costing $3.5 billion. In addition, lead poisoning and cancer are caused by lead-based paint and exposure to other environmental toxins, generate an estimated $53 billion in annual medical costs. Hazards that lead to falls and burns add another $222 billion.

Healthy rentals protect tenants, and lower liability and insurance costs for landlords. To address common hazards, HUD developed 7 Principles of Healthy Homes:

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 there is a connection between exposure to mice and cockroaches and the development of asthma. Improper treatment of pest infestations can leave pesticide residues, which could cause neurological damage and cancer.

Safe “The majority of injuries occur in the home. Falls are the most frequent cause of residential injuries, followed by injuries from objects in the home, burns, and poisonings.

Contaminant-Free “It is important to keep homes clear of contaminants such as lead, asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and tobacco smoke. Exposures to these contaminants are far higher indoors than outside.

Ventilated” Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health. Even cooking in a poorly-ventilated home can produce harmful pollution.

Maintained” Poorly maintained homes are at risk for moisture and pest problems. Lead-based paint in older homes is the primary cause of lead poisoning, which affects some 240,000 U.S. children.

Volunteer Event Kicks-Off Conference

One of the highlights of NHHC takes place prior to the official start, when HUD and Rebuilding Together rehabilitate 25 homes in a Denver neighborhood on June 18 and 19. The event, called Building a Healthy Neighborhood, will bring together more than 300 volunteers to make the homes of local families safer and healthier. Volunteers may register at www.healthyhomesconference.org.

For more information about NHHC, please contact Shantae Goodloe at 202-402-6607.

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