With long-term studies of lead, secondhand smoke, and other home health hazards, there has been an increase of press releases involving children’s health and the air quality of their homes. The latest of these comes from HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and the EPA.
According to the press release, a group of federal agencies unveiled Advancing Healthy Housing – A Strategy for Action. White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Nancy Sutley, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donovan, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., and Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman discussed the new plan during an event at the National Building Museum earlier this month.
Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA said, “Thanks to unprecedented collaboration across the federal family and among our many partners, we now have a specific plan for action to address radon and other preventable hazards found in homes across the country. This is important progress, especially when you consider that people spend an estimated 70 percent of their time inside a home. At EPA we’re committed to ensuring Americans in all communities have healthy places to live, work and play, and the strategy we announced today is a critical step toward reaching that goal.”
"The Strategy for Action unifies federal agencies to advance healthy housing. Currently, millions of U.S. homes have moderate to severe physical housing problems, including dilapidated structure; roofing problems; heating, plumbing, and electrical deficiencies; water leaks and intrusion; pests; damaged paint; and high radon gas levels. These conditions are associated with a wide range of health issues, including unintentional injuries, respiratory illnesses like asthma and radon-induced lung cancer, lead poisoning, result in lost school days for children, as well as lost productivity in the labor force. The health and economic burdens from preventable hazards associated with the home are considerable, and cost billions of dollars.”
The overall vision for the Strategy is to reduce the number of American homes with residential health and safety hazards, achieved through five goals:
1. Establish healthy homes recommendations
2. Encourage adoption of healthy homes recommendations
3. Create and support training and workforce development to address health hazards in housing
4. Educate the public about healthy homes
5. Support research that informs and advances healthy housing in a cost-effective manner
With this announcement, some of the key components that the EPA is looking for are going to come from the private sector. Grants for the establishment of comprehensive testing, training and development of solutions or remediation for the “unhealthy house” are available for non-profit as well as for profit companies. In this way, the federal agencies are hoping for an expansion on the idea of collaboration. Additional information is available at the Healthy Homes website.