Healthy homes conference Part 2

October 30th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

When I am in court, my focus is on the safety of the building that is the subject of my prosecution.  I don’t know that I’ve paid that much attention to the effect that the problem with the property is having on the long term health of the residents.  It certainly has been a concern when there is an immediate hazard but otherwise I haven’t really concentrated on what the implications are to general health.  That is why it was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet professionals for whom this is a great concern.

Amy McLean Sales from the National Center for Healthy Housing spoke at the conference about the seven principles of healthy housing.  They are:

Dry: Damp houses provide a nurturing environment for mites, roaches, rodents, and molds, all of which are associated with asthma.

Clean: Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants.

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.

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.

Contaminant-Free: Chemical exposures include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and environmental tobacco smoke. Exposures to asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide, and second-hand tobacco smoke are far higher indoors than outside.

Ventilated: Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.

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 240,000 U.S. children.

These principles apply to many of the homes that have been the object of court cases I have handled.

Amy also showed statistics that communities of color are more likely to live in unhealthy housing. I would imagine a lot of the housing is rental property not maintained by the landlords.  I asked her about resources to help people in this economic environment to fix properties in need of repair but she is as frustrated as I am because of the lack of money available to help people who need assistance to fix a deteriorating property.  The grim reality is that if we don’t do something now, they will be the properties we will need to demolish 5 years or 10 years from now.


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