Creating Healthy Indoor Environments for Healthy Children Ironbound Community Corporation Katherine J. Seikel EPA Office of Children’s Health Protection April 17, 2012
Body Differences • Drink, eat, and breathe more than adults, as based on body weight • Children are rapidly growing and developing • Less developed natural defenses • More skin per pound and less protective skin • Chemicals in the womb and in breast milk
Behavioral Differences • Natural explorers • Spend more time close or on the ground and floors • Spend more time outdoors than adults • Mouthing behaviors • Place dirty fingers and objects in their mouth • Ingest dirt and dust, which may be contaminated
Toxic Chemicals • A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than a child from any other generation in our history. • A 2005 study found 287 different chemicals in the cord blood of 10 newborn babies – chemicals from pesticides, fast food packaging, coal and gasoline emissions, and trash incineration.
Health Disparities All children are susceptible to negative outcomes as a result of environmental exposures, but they disproportionately effect minorities and children living below the poverty level Asthma Brain Disorders Obesity Cancer
Asthma: Outcomes and Disparities • 7 million kids suffer from asthma • 2 million emergency room visits annually • Black children are two times as likely to be hospitalized, four times as likely to die from asthma as white children
Brain Disorders: Outcomes and Disparities • Exposure to certain chemicals can lead to ADHD, lowered IQ, autism spectrum disorders, behavioral disorders and/or developmental delays • 12 million U.S. children, or 17%, have learning or behavioral disabilities • Chemical exposures play a role in at least 1 in 4 cases of behavioral or developmental disorders • ADHD is more common in children below the poverty level
Obesity: Outcomes and Disparities • Obesity in children has tripled in the last thirty years • Obesity in children • 21.2% of Hispanic children • 24.3% of Black non-Hispanic children • 14% of White non-Hispanic children • Research shows that some chemicals can lead to obesity
Cancer: Outcomes and Disparities • Cancer : second cause of death among children (ages 1 -14 years of age) • Approximately 10,400 U.S children under age 15 diagnosed with cancer in 2007 • About 1,545 of these will die from the disease • Exposure early in life to cancer-causing chemicals may not result in cancer until many years later
The Importance of Healthy Housing -- (and what you can do to promote it)
Housing conditions have an important impact on public health. Most people spend 80% to 90% of their time indoors.
The connection between health and the dwelling of the population is one of the most important that exists. Florence Nightingale
There are more than 6 million housing units with severe or moderate deficiencies in the United States.
Lead Carbon Monoxide Mold Cockroaches Dust Mites Mice Rats Pesticide Residues Tobacco Smoke Combustion Gases Radon Rat Bites Fires Falls Residents of substandard housing are at increased risk for exposure to:
Children in substandard housing are more likely to have elevated blood lead levels and to have ever been diagnosed with asthma.
Critical need to prevent the public health problems that stem from these units. National Healthy Home Strategy for Action to be released in June 2012.
What is Healthy Housing? • Healthy Housing is • Designed, • Constructed, • Maintained, and • Rehabilitated in a manner that is conducive to good occupant health.
Safe Smoke detector Carbon monoxide Radon Fire SafetyFalls Home safety Space heaters Healthy Homes Maintained Roof Foundation Gutters Access for Pests Furnace & Filters Dry MoistureMoldStructural Damage AllergiesAsthma Contaminant Free Lead-based paint Chemicals Household products Pesticides Solvents Clean Carpets Dust Dirt Clutter Food Storage and Preparation Pets Pest-Free PestsPesticidesCockroachesDust MitesMiceRatsIntegrated Pest Management Ventilated Combustion AppliancesRadon Smoking Indoor air quality
Mom Dad Pal Grandmother Emily Adam Wanabee-Healthy Family
Grandmother • Bedroom on the second floor; wood floors; • Uses a space heater and throw rugs Mild Respiratory Disease Noticing a little arthritis – otherwise good health Likes to garden
Mom Expecting baby in 6 months Good Prenatal Care Avoid exposures to environmental hazards Doesn’t Smoke Healthy • Healthy Works part-time outside the home Exercises
Dad Healthy Exercises Works at a Garden Center Smokes cigarettes
Adam 5 years old Asthma Triggers? Tobacco Smoke? Less active than usual Asthma attacks are becoming more frequent Moisture? Mold? Mice? Cockroaches? Lives in a pre-1978 Home Lead Poisoning? Dust Mites? Pesticides? Cleaning Products? VOCs Carpeting?
Emily 2 Years Old Lives in a pre-1978 Home Lead Poisoning? Walked early – very mobile; Inquisitive (Mom and Dad have had to call Poison Control twice!) Adam’s Small Toys Childproofing Proper storage of Household Products, Medicine Gates
Pal Tracks dirt into House Can track-in pesticide residue Pal’s food is attractive to pests
Moisture / Water Intrusion Mold Asthma and Allergy Exacerbation
Structural Damage Moisture / Water Intrusion
Structural Damage Pests Lead Poisoning Fire Injuries
Pesticide Pests Asthma and Allergy Exacerbation
Mold Mold Mold Structural Damage Structural Damage Moisture Asthma and Allergy Exacerbation Asthma and Allergy Exacerbation Asthma and Allergy Exacerbation Asthma and Allergy Exacerbation Asthma and Allergy Exacerbation Asthma and Allergy Exacerbation
For more information: • Environmental Protection Agency • http://epa.gov/children • National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network • http://www.healthyhomestraining.org/ • Soon to come: www.healthyhomes.gov