|The Indiana Healthy Homes Alliance is a collaboration of state and local agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations that work to promote healthy housing for all Indiana residents. The IHHA is a program under Improving Kids’ Environment, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on children’s environmental health.|
The Healthy Homes effort grew out of the work to prevent lead poisoning in homes. Unfortunately, state and federal funding for lead poisoning treatment and prevention has all but disappeared. What is left of these dollars are being transitioned into projects based on the “healthy homes” concept.
A Healthy Home, one that supports the health and safety of it’s residents, is important for everyone but especially children because they spend close to 70% of their time in their home. An unhealthy home can cause or worsen serious health issues. According to the National Center for Healthy Housing the annual costs of environmentally caused childhood diseases in the US is over $54.9 billion! These diseases include, but are not limited to, lead poisoning, neuro-behavioral disorders (ADHD), asthma and cancer. Asthma alone accounts for 3% of the country’s total healthcare costs and is also responsible for more than 10 million missed school days per year. Unhealthy houses also affect many adults, especially seniors, due to hazardous exposures and unsafe conditions.
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- Keep It Dry – Homes with moisture and leaks can become moldy, attract unwanted pests, affect respiratory health, degrade lead-based paint and weaken structures
- Keep It Clean – Common contaminants in house dust include lead-based paint dust, pesticide residue, chemicals like flame retardants, dust mites and pest droppings
- Keep It Pest-Free – Many health effects are associated with pests and pesticides, including asthma and allergies, skin rashes, stomach cramps and nausea, central nervous system damage, kidney damage and stress
- Keep It Safe – Safety issues in homes include the risk of falls among older adults, choking and suffocation among very young children, fire and poisoning
- Keep It Contaminant-Free – Lead-based paint is a well-known contaminant; others include environmental tobacco smoke, radon, pesticides, asbestos, VOCs and chemicals used in household goods and building materials
- Keep It Ventilated – Pollutants can become highly concentrated in homes; these include radon, VOCs, environmental tobacco smoke, allergens, mold, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Ventilation also prevents moisture and mold.
- Keep It Maintained – A poorly maintained home can be harmful to occupant health. Some examples are carbon monoxide leaks, unsafe wiring and water and mold in basements.
Sometimes an eighth principal is added: Keep It Energy Efficient. See The 8 Elements of a Green and Healthy Home by the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative.