Healthy Homes. From “Help Yourself to a Healthy Home” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. FACT: Most people spend at least half of their lives inside their homes. Children may spend up to 90% of their time indoors!. Indoor Air Quality.
From “Help Yourself to a Healthy Home” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
FACT: Most people spend at least half of their lives inside their homes. Children may spend up to 90% of their time indoors!
Indoor Air Quality
Why should I be concerned about indoor air quality? Asthma and Allergies Mold Carbon Monoxide Radon Chemicals Lead dust
What might cause my indoor air quality to suffer? Tobacco Smoke Pets Hobbies and Home projects Household projects New furniture, carpet Lead paint Things people do or store in their homes:
How do I know I need to test my home’s indoor air quality? Does anyone in your home have known allergies or asthma diagnoses? Chronic bronchitis? Lung disease? Do they notice coughing, burning eyes or sneezing that happens most at home? If YES: Examine potential behaviors and hazards that you can control to help lessen these symptoms.
What have you observed in your home? Do some areas smell damp or musty? Does it seem stuffy or stale? Does your bathroom or kitchen lack exhaust fans? Are they used? Have you ever seen cockroaches in your home? If YES: Your home may contain mold (we will discuss later). Use exhaust fans. Clean up spills right away. A clean home is a healthy home.
What do you allow in your home? Smoking? Furry pets? Hobbies or projects that create dust or odors? Household products? If YES: Do not smoke in your home or car. NEVER smoke near your children. Second hand smoke is extremely unsafe for children Furry pets out of bedrooms and living areas prevent allergic irritation. Open windows, use fans if someone uses chemicals in the home or garage. Follow all safety information on household products.
What about home improvements? Are you considering new furniture or carpet? Are there new building materials in your home? If YES: Ask salesperson to unroll carpet and air it out for at least one day before bringing it into your home. Let new furniture and building materials air out for a few days before bringing them inside. Non-toxic or green products may cost more, but may be safer in protecting your family.
When should I test for radon? Radon is a cancer-causing, natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. Do any of your neighbor’s have problems with radon? Have you neglected to test for radon? If YES: Test your home. Hardware or home supply stores carry low-cost radon testing kits. If your neighbors have a radon problem, you may too.
When in Doubt, Check It Out! Indoor Air Quality The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Indoor Air Quality Home Page— www.epa.gov/iaq Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse (800) 438-4318 M-F 8:00am to 5:00pm ET or email: email@example.com National Radon Information Hotline (800) SOS-RADON ((800) 767-7236) The National Consumer Federation’s Radon Website— www.radonfixit.org National Lead Information Center (800)424-LEAD ((800)424-5323 National Hispanic Indoor Air Quality Hotline (800) SALUD-12 ((800)725-8312), M-F 9:00am to 6:00pm ET American Lung Association (800) LUNG-USA ((800)586-4872) – www.lungusa.org Healthy Indoor Air for America’s Homes (406)994-3451— www.healthyindoorair.org Home*A*Syst: An Environmental Risk Assessment Guide for the Home (608)262-0024— www.uwex.edu/homeasyst
Asthma and Allergies
What in my home can cause an asthma attack? Attacks are often triggered by things that people are allergic to. Common Asthma Triggers: Mold Dust Carbon Monoxide Cleaning products Hair spray or Perfume Dander (skin flakes from cats, dogs, and other pets) Pests such as roaches, rodents, or dust mites (tiny insects that live in carpets, furniture, etc.) Cigarette smoke
When might my home be a risk for asthma attacks and allergies? Does someone in your family notice burning eyes, coughing, or sneezing that happens most at home? Does your home have carpet that is not cleaned well or not cleaned often? How often do you wash bedding? Do you keep pets inside? Has it been more than a year since you have had your furnace, flues, and chimney inspected and cleaned? Is your home damp and musty? Does anyone smoke inside?
What actions can you take? Healthy Housekeeping Clean home often. Keep clutter down. Control Other Pests Seal food, clean crumbs and spills, empty garbage often, wash dirty dishes right after eating, fix plumbing leaks, seal cracks where pests can get in. Pets Check Your Appliances Smoke outside Mold
When in Doubt, Check It Out! Asthma and Allergies You local county Extension Office –look in your telephone book. Your local or state health department –look in your telephone book. American Lung Association, (800)LUNG-USA – www.lungusa.org The Soap and Detergent Association, Cleaning to Control Allergies and Asthma, (202)347-2900— www.cleaning101.com/house Healthy Indoor Air for America’s Homes (406)994-3451— www.healthyindoorair.org The Allergy & Asthma Network: Mothers of Asthmatics (800)878-4403— www.aanma.org The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) (800)929-4040— www.foodallergy.org The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Asthma and Indoor Environments— www.epa.gov/asthma
Mold and Moisture
What is mold and why should I worry about it? Mold is alive. It grows on wet or damp surfaces. Often is grey or black, but can be white, orange, or green Often smells musty Is also called mildew It produces spores, tiny specks that float through the air. These can cause health problems when you breath them in to your lungs. It is not healthy to live where mold is growing.
Where might I find mold in my home? In bathrooms, especially around the shower or tub In wet or damp basements and crawl spaces Around leaky sinks In attics under leaking roofs On wet clothes that are not dried quickly Windows and walls where condensation collects In closets Under wallpaper and carpet In your air conditioner
When might moisture become a risk for mold? Does anyone use a humidifier? Has any part of your home been flooded? Experienced an overflow? Does any part of your home leak? Can you see moisture anywhere inside? Do you see color changes on floors or walls that you can’t wipe off? Does the air feel clammy or humid? Can you see mold growing in your home?
What can I do about a possible moisture problem? Repair or cover leaking roofs, walls, doors, or windows. Increase air flow in problem areas. Fans, air conditioners and open doors can help. Keep surfaces dry by cleaning up spills quickly and toweling off bathroom walls after showering or bathing. Check the relative humidity with a kit from your local hardware store. Humidifiers shouldn’t run if humidity is higher than 50%. Throw away wet carpeting, cardboard boxes, and insulation. Keep people with asthma and allergies away from damp areas in your home.
When in Doubt, Check It Out! Mold & Moisture Your county Extension Office –look in your telephone book Your local or state health department –look in your telephone book The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) –www.epa.gov/mold The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) –www.cdc.gov/health/mold.html California Indoor Air Quality Program –www.cal-iaq/iaqsheet.htm The Health House – www.healthhouse.org Healthy Indoor Air for America’s Homes (406)994-3451 – www.healthyindoorair.org
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
What is Carbon Monoxide? A deadly gas that can make you sick or even kill you. You can’t see, taste, feel, or smell carbon monoxide. Children, unborn babies, older adults, and people with asthma, heart and lung problems are more likely to get hurt from breathing it. It harms even healthy people to breathe it in.
What are signs of CO poisoning? Often confused with the flu. Symptoms may include: Headache Nausea Vomiting Dizziness Confusion Tiredness Weakness Sleepiness Chest tightness Trouble breathing Changes in senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste
What in my home might cause a carbon monoxide risk? Things to check: Appliance and furnace age Gas water heater Kitchen burners with yellow or orange flame Rusty vent pipes for furnace, boiler, water heater Fireplace smoke Gas fireplace Kerosene or gas heater Vent and combustion air openings Carbon monoxide detector
What can I do to minimize a risk? NEVER run engines or charcoal grills in garage or inside! Have a professional check on old appliances and furnace. Turn off appliance or furnace if it doesn’t seem to be working right, starts sooting, or makes different noises Never block exhaust vents Never use kitchen stove or oven to heat your home! NEVER warm up car in garage. Take care with weatherizing projects.
What do I do if a CO alarm goes off in my home? LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. Treat it as an emergency. Call 9-1-1 from a phone outside your home See a doctor or nurse right away, especially if someone shows signs of CO poisoning. Have your home checked by a qualified heating or appliance contractor. Don’t go back home until all problems have been found and fixed!
When in Doubt, Check It Out! Carbon Monoxide Your county Extension office –look in your telephone book Your local or state health department –look in your telephone book The Consumer Products Safety Commission (800)638-2772 – www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/466.html The American Lung Association, (800)LUNG-USA – www.lungusa.org/air/carbon_factsheet99.html Healthy Indoor Air for America’s Homes (406)994-3451 – www.healthyindoorair.org
Why should I worry about lead? Lead poisoning can cause Learning and behavior problems Hearing damage Nervous system damaging, including the brain Children are likely candidates for lead poisoning. Calcium deficiencies can put children further at risk for lead poisoning. 1 in 40 children has too much lead in their body.
Where does lead come from? Older homes Paint on windows and windowsills Water pipes or the solder used to join pipes Household dust Soil outside the home
How do I know if my house has lead? Homes built before 1950 probably contain some lead. Hardware stores sell inexpensive kits to test for lead.
What can I do to prevent lead poisoning? Know when lead is dangerous. Have a doctor test your child for lead. Wash children’s hands and faces. Don’t let children chew on windowsills. Use warm water and paper towels to wipe down home. Take care with remodeling. Feed your children a healthy diet. Work in a clean and lead-safe manner.
When In Doubt, Check It Out! Lead For blood tests, call your family doctor or public health clinic. For testing of paint samples and drinking water, call your local or state health department. For a packet of materials or questions about lead, call the National Lead Information Center, (800)424-LEAD. For information on lead in drinking water, call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline, (800)426-4791 – www.epa.gov/safewater Contact HUD about tenants’ rights and other housing issues, (800)HUDS-FHA— www.hud.gov/lead For more information on Lead In and Around the Home, see Home*A*Syst. (608)262-0024 – www.uwex.edu/homeasyst The Lead Safety page on Rebuilding Together Dayton’s website: www.rtdayton.org
When might my water be unsafe? Do you have lead pipes? Lead pipes are dull grey and scratch easily with a key. Do you have copper pipes? Copper pipes are reddish-brown in color. If YES: CLEAR THE PIPES. Let cold water run for two or three minutes if you have not used it in a while. Never use hot water from the tap for cooking, drinking, or making formula.
What else can I do to help ensure the safety of our drinking water? Water supply is local! Follow directions when using poisons to kill weeds or bugs. Take care where you store chemicals. DO NOT throw chemicals down the drain or in the garbage. Follow directions for disposal. Give away or safely dispose of leftover chemicals.
When In Doubt, Check It Out! Drinking Water Call your local water company Call your local Cooperative Extension office Call your local or state health department Call EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline, (800)426-4791 The Home*A*Syst handbook, (608)262-0024 – www.uwex.edu/homeasyst
Hazardous Household Materials
What are some possibly hazardous household products? Bleach Rat poison Mothballs Charcoal lighter fluid Batteries Mercury thermometers Gas Oil Wood polish Toilet cleaners Drain cleaners Shoe polish Bug spray
Protect your children from hazardous products: Follow the directions. Store safely. Dispose of safely.
Can you cut down on the hazardous products in your home? Buy only what you need, no extras. Keep garbage tidy, wash dishes often to prevent or reduce pests. Don’t use hazardous materials if you are pregnant and someone else will do the job. Use baking soda for scrubbing. Use vinegar for cutting grease. Use a plunger to unclog, rather than chemicals. Look for environmentally safe (“green”) cleaning products.
Do you store hazardous materials safely? Keep them away from children! A secure, locked place is best. Keep products from sparks, heat, or fire. Store batteries and flammable chemicals away from direct sunlight. Never put hazardous materials in any container other than the one they came in! Keep containers and packages dry.
How do you get rid of hazardous materials? Pay attention to labels. NEVER burn or dump hazardous materials on your property, or in a barrel or stove. Recycle used motor oil or antifreeze. Take leftovers to a community hazardous waste collection point. NEVER mix hazardous materials together, particularly not ammonia and chlorine bleach.
What else can I do to protect my family’s health? Use products known to be safe when possible. ALWAYS read and follow directions on labels! Buy products in childproof containers. Post the Poison Control Center telephone number next to your phone. (800)222-1222 will connect you from anywhere in the country. Find out about your community’s hazardous waste collection points.
When In Doubt, Check It Out! Hazardous Household Products Call your Poison Control Center, (800)222-1222 Call your Cooperative Extension office Call your local or state health department Contact the Consumer Products Safety Commission, (800)638-2772 – www.cpsc.gov Contact Healthy Indoor Air for America’s Homes, (406)994-3451 – www.healthyindoorair.org The Home*A*Systhandbook, (608)262-0024 – www.uwex.edu/homeasyst EPA’s Consumer Labeling Initiative – www.epa.gov/opptintr/labeling/index.htm
When might pesticides become a problem for my family? Breathing fumes or dust from pesticide powders and sprays can be harmful. Touching a floor where pesticide was used can also be dangerous. Young children crawl and play on lawns and floors. Young children put everything in their mouths. Pesticides or poisons stored within children’s reach are dangerous.
Why might my home have pests? Loose or torn screens Broken windows Dirty counters or floors Spilled food in the home A garage that pests can access Food stored without covers Leaky roof or plumbing Dishes that go unwashed for long periods of time
What can I do to minimize the need for pesticides? Keep a clean home Keep food at table Get rid of stacks of newspaper, cardboard boxes, etc. Recycle if you can. Shampoo pets and wash their bedding often Tips for Preparing Food Wash and scrub all fruits and vegetables Throw outer leaves away Trim fat – some pesticides collect there If you can, buy organic. Organic farming does not use pesticides. Lawn and Garden Use lawn seeds and plants that grow well and fight disease Make sure you know what a pest is before using a pesticide Hand-pull or use a hoe to get rid of weeds Clean up dead leaves and debris
When In Doubt, Check It Out! Pesticides EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, (703)305-5017 – www.epa.gov/pesticides You can order these publications: Help! It’s a Roach: A Roach Prevention Activity Book Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety 10 Tips to Protect Your Family From Pesticide and Lead Poisoning Pesticides and Child Safety Pesticides and Food: What You and Your Family Need to Know National Pesticide Information Center, (800)858-7378 – www.npic.orst.edu Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Information Service Hotline, (888)SAFE-FOOD ((888)723-33663), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday The Home*A*Syst handbook, (608)262-0024 – www.uwex.edu/homeasyst For more information on non-toxic pest control contact the Bio-Integral Resource Center, (510)524-2567 – www.birc.org
Home Safety Your chances of getting hurt at home are much higher than at work or school.
What might be a safety risk in my home? Slips, Trips, Falls Clutter in hallways, stairs Stairs in poor shape Fires and Burns Lack of smoke alarms Unsafe use of space heaters Lack of fire safety awareness with children Choking Not watching children at meal or play time Toys that are not appropriate for a child’s age Water No fence around a pool Not watching children in a bathtub Poisons Cleaning supplies can be poisonous to eat or drink
How can I prevent slips, trips, and falls? Keep floor clear of tripping hazards. Clean up spills right away. Use non-skid mats on rugs. Repair cracked or worn stairs. Take care carrying large or heavy loads. Keep home well-lit. Teach children not to run indoors or jump down stairs. Don’t use chairs or tables as makeshift ladders.
How can I prevent fires and burns? Smoke alarms on every floor DO NOT let children play with matches, lighters, stoves or heaters. Store in a safe place. Teach children to prevent fires Plan and practice a fire escape route Keep space heaters out of busy areas and away from curtains, bedding, etc.
How can I prevent choking and suffocation? Hot dogs, nuts, popcorn, and hard candy can easily get stuck in a child’s throat. DO NOT let young children eat them Drinks can make babies choke when they are lying down. Make sure babies drink sitting up Balloons, coins, marbles, and buttons can be choking hazards on the ground. Pick up these items from floors Cars and old appliances can suffocate children if they get trapped. DO NOT let children play in or around these things.
How can I take care to prevent drowning? Always watch children around pools. Make sure they walk around pool decks. Have a fence at least 5 feet high around all pools, hot tubs, and spas. Take toys from pools Life jackets on docks, beaches, rivers Never leave children alone in the bathtub! Children can drown in just a few inches of water.
How can I poison-proof my home? Keep in mind that all rooms in the home can hold hazardous materials.
Kitchen and Bathroom Hazards may include: drain openers, detergents, oven cleaners, medicine chest items Safety latches Keeping hazardous products out of reach Keep children away while using these products
Bedroom and Living Room Bedroom hazards may include medicine, medications, perfumes, makeup, cigarettes Living room hazards may include liquor, cigarettes, furniture polish, lamp oil, some plants
Garage, Basement, and Laundry Room Some of the most hazardous Hazards may include: bleach, antifreeze, gasoline, car polishes, car batteries, paints, paint removers, mothballs, bug spray, road salt, and more Safest to keep children out completely
If someone gets poisoned: Call Poison Control Center IMMEDIATELY (800) 222-1222 Keep this number by all your phones Make sure you know: Product brand name Type of product Contents as listed on label About how much was consumed How contact was made (mouth, skin, etc.) How long contact was made The person’s age and weight How you tried to help the person, if you did
What else can I do to promote safety? CPR and first aid classes for adults and older children. Keep children from equipment such as lawn tractors. Safety gear. Wear it yourself as a good example. Store guns safely—unloaded and locked up. Children under 12 in backseat of car. Car seats for children under 40 pounds.
When In Doubt, Check It Out! Home Safety Your county Extension Office Your local or state health department For information on product recalls: The Consumer Products Safety Commission, (800)638-2772 – www.cpsc.gov National SAFE KIDS Campaign, (202)662-0600 – www.safekids.org, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Ste. 1000, Washington, DC 20004 The American Red Cross – www.redcross.org National Safety Council, (800)621-7619 – www.nsc.org