Is Your Home Making You Sick

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Research has shown a strong connection between poor housing conditions and health problems, such as asthma, lung cancer, lead poisoning, and other injuries. Children in general, but especially those living in low income and rural areas.
These areas are more vulnerable to such health issues than adults. Because kids eat drink and breathe more than adults do in proportion to their body weight, they are at risk for both acute and long-term illnesses. Children are smaller, their organ systems are still developing, and their playing and learning behaviors expose them to additional environmental threats. For example, children play close to the ground and often put their hands in their mouths, ingesting harmful contaminants. When a child is running at full speed, such as during a soccer game, they may take in 20 to 50 percent more air – and more air pollution – than would an adult doing a similar activity. Besides, children have unique windows of susceptibility that make them more vulnerable during certain stages of their development.
The impacts of health problems arising out of poor housing conditions extend into other areas, including education. As students fall sick, their attendance in school drops.

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People in the U.S. spend about 70% of their lives inside their home, and almost 20% in a school or other commercial building. These numbers suggest that the condition of the home is a primary factor in a person’s overall health. If your home has problems, your health may be suffering, too.

Of the 137 million homes in the United States:
30 million have a defective heating, plumbing, or electrical system;
12 million have problems with water leaks;
4 million have experienced mold problems within the last year; and
7 million have serious damage to the roof.

Poor housing conditions also include:
a dilapidated exterior;
structural problems;
flaking paint; and
radon gas.

These conditions are all associated with a wide range of health issues, including injuries due to accidents, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, lead poisoning, and even cancer. The condition of a person’s housing is an important influence on their health.

And, consider this:  If you purchased a new-construction home in 2013, it probably has some deficiencies simply because the building codes and standards have actually improved since then. For example, let’s say you purchased your new home in Baltimore.  In 2013, the requirement for ceiling insulation was a minimum of R-38, and for framed-wall insulation, it was R-16.  In 2017, those minimum R-ratings were updated to R-49 and R-20, respectively.  That’s an increase of about 25% in Maryland’s energy-efficiency requirements.  And existing houses built before then are likely to have some kind of deficiency in a home system because of when and where the house was built.

Scientific evidence demonstrates a solid relationship between housing and human health. Studies on the economic burden of specific defects in homes show costs rising into the billions of dollars annually. Hazards associated with the home contribute to both poor health and the economic burdens on society at large.

The good news is that most home-based hazards are preventable. And it starts with getting your home inspected. A healthy home provides a safe and healthy environment for your family.

A healthy home is:
free of contaminants;
well ventilated;
well maintained; and
thermally controlled.

Substandard housing has long been associated with a wide range of health hazards, including respiratory infections, lead poisoning, injuries, and mental health issues. In the 19th century, public health officials began to target poor sanitation, overcrowding, and inadequate ventilation to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases, as well as fire hazards.

Today, we use multiple strategies to maintain improved living conditions, such as developing and enforcing construction guidelines and codes and advocating for safe and healthy housing that’s also energy-efficient. A healthy community starts with a healthy home. So lets us help you provide a safe living space for you and your family.