Principles of a Healthy Home - Hazards, Prevention, & Solutions
Many homes fall short of the basic requirements of a healthy home and contain one or more of hazards that adversely affect human health.
Mold and pests — such as cockroaches, rodents, and dust mites — can cause and contribute to asthma, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses. Since housing conditions can play a significant role in respiratory health, these hazards can greatly increase and intensify susceptibility to respiratory illnesses.
- Toxic materials such as lead, asbestos, and chemical pesticides can harm human health in a variety of ways. For instance, lead poisoning in children causes reduced IQ and attention span, hyperactivity, impaired growth, reading and learning disabilities, hearing loss, insomnia, and a range of other health, intellectual, and behavioral problems.
- Poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide and radon also pose threats to health. Carbon monoxide poisoning results in more than 200 accidental deaths a year and, at much lower levels, causes flu-like symptoms, which often go undiagnosed. Radon can increase the risk of cancer, which is the second leading cause of death among adults and children in the U.S.
The ideal way to maintain healthy homes and properties is to address these hazards before they become dangerous problems and by tackling many hazards at once. There are 7 keys to maintaining a healthy home:
- Keep it - Dry: Damp houses provide a nurturing environment for mites, roaches, rodents, and molds, all of which are associated with asthma.
- Keep it - Clean: Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants.
- Keep it - 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.
- Keep it - Ventilated: Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.
- Keep it - 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.
- Keep it - Contaminant-Free: 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.
- Keep it - 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 535,000 U.S. children.
To help residents address these seven principles, the National Center for Healthy Housing provides Steps & Costs for Creating a Healthier Home as well as a comprehensive Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist.
Refer to the videos below for a step-by-step breakdown on best practices for maintaining a safe and healthy home. DUST, PESTS, and MOLD are available in both English and Spanish, and were filmed right in New Jersey, featuring local parents and field professionals.
Isles’ Dust Does Not Discriminate video in English (Click here to watch in Spanish)
A practical and comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to dry and wet clean your home to prevent health hazards like asthma and reduce the harmful effects of allergens and lead paint dust for your family. DUST was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Center for Environmental Health Sciences in Piscataway, NJ.
Isles’ Arrest the Pests in your Nest in English (Click here to watch in Spanish)
Before you panic, here’s what you need to know to effectively keep your home pest-free AND your family safe from harmful pesticides and chemicals. PEST was underwritten by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Isles, Inc.
Isles’ Attack of the Mold Spores
Mold inside your home can be very harmful for both your health and your home. Stop the moisture first and then clean it up. Click here to watch in Spanish. MOLD was created by the partnership of Isles, Inc; The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; Rutgers Cooperative Extension; and The Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute.
More resources provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
- Lead: What you need to know about lead in your home to make sure your child is safe.
- Asthma: Here are some practical ways to make sure your home is a comfortable environment for those in your family who have asthma.
- Slips: Protect children and the elderly in your home by taking steps to prevent slips, trips, and falls.
- Natural disasters: