Lead poisoning and asthma are common pediatric health problems and are both linked to the environment and substandard housing conditions. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), housing conditions can significantly affect public health. Childhood lead poisoning, injuries, respiratory diseases such as asthma, and quality of life issues have been linked to the more than six million substandard housing units nationwide. Nearly five million U.S. children have asthma, and more than half a million U.S. children are now believed to have lead poisoning.
Research studies suggest lead poisoning and asthma are common in low-income minority children (communities). Side effects and triggers for both health problems are costly and estimated at $43.4 billion for lead poisoning and $2.0 billion for asthma.
The HUD Asthma Action Guide lists the following complex problems, and these problems are also associated with minority children with lead poisoning:
- limited access to sustained and consistent quality health care
- low level of health literacy
- exposures to allergens and pollutants (lead dust)
- lack of family resources
There is no cure for either asthma or lead poisoning, and in extreme cases these health problems can cause death.
Question: How can we reduce health problems in our communities?
Answer: Healthy Homes Initiative
CDC’s Healthy Homes Initiative is a coordinated, comprehensive, and holistic approach to preventing diseases and injuries that result from housing-related hazards and deficiencies.
The Healthy Homes Initiative seeks to:
- Broaden the scope of single-issue public health programs — such as childhood lead poisoning prevention and asthma programs — to address multiple housing deficiencies that affect health and safety.
- Build capacity and competency among environmental public health practitioners, public health nurses, housing specialists, managers, and others who work in the community to develop and manage comprehensive and effective Healthy Homes programs.
- Promote, develop, and implement cross-disciplinary activities at the federal, state, tribal, territorial, and community levels to address the problem of unhealthy and unsafe homes through surveillance, research, and comprehensive prevention programs.
- Facilitate the collection of local data and monitor progress toward reducing or eliminating housing deficiencies and hazards.
- Expand collaborations with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), national associations and organizations, academia, community-based organizations, and others, including the American Public Health Association, National Environmental Health Association, and the World Health Organization.
- Promote research to determine causal relations between substandard housing and adverse health effects.
- Develop guidelines to assess, reduce, and eliminate health and safety risks.
- Identify and implement low-cost, reliable, and practical methods to reduce health and safety risks in substandard housing.
CLEARCorps USA is focused where it’s needed most – the remediation and abatement of lead and asthma triggers. If you have a story you’d like to share, please send it to us at www.CLEARCorps.org.