From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published February 5, 2013 09:24 AM

Federal Agencies Announce New Initiative to Improve Indoor Health Hazards

Several agencies including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Surgeon General, Department of Energy (DOE), and White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) got together yesterday at the National Building Museum. The purpose of their meeting was to unveil a new initiative titled Advancing Healthy Housing — A Strategy for Action. The initiative involves addressing America's health and economic costs associated with preventable hazards within the home. It urges taking preemptive action to reduce the health and environmental risks inside the home, a place where the average American spends about 70 percent of their time.

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Millions of people live in homes with moderate to severe physical housing problems. These problems include structural, roofing, heating, plumbing, electrical, mold and moisture intrusion, pests, toxic paint, radon gas, etc. Through lack of knowledge or lack of funding, many of these problems never get fixed, leading to a wide range of health issues.

Respiratory illnesses are caused by inhalation of mold, radon, asbestos. There is potential lead poisoning from older buildings. There is also the risk of unintentional injuries. According to the federal agencies this can all lead to lost school days for children, lost productivity in the work force, and increased health costs overall. The total health and economic burden associated with home hazards is estimated in the billions.

The new federal initiative attempts to address this issue through unified strategies and methods in a "cost-effective manner". The overall vision is hoped to be achieved by accomplishing the following 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

"It is clear that unhealthy and unsafe housing has an impact on the health of millions of people in the United States, which is why we must do everything we can to ensure that individuals and families have a healthy place to call home," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Today's announcement will help the federal government unify action to controlling and preventing major housing-related exposures and hazards."

For more information, go to the US HUD Healthy Homes Website

Housing Projects image via Wikimedia Commons

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