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Feds Team Up for Healthier Homes

Thursday, February 7, 2013

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Peeling paint, lead poisoning, failing roofs and other housing dangers are the focus of a new federal-level, multi-agency initiative to make American homes safer and healthier.

Advancing Healthy Housing – A Strategy for Action, announced this week, is an interagency initiative aimed at "addressing the nation’s health and economic burdens caused by preventable hazards associated with the home," where Americans spend about 70 percent of their time, officials said.

The program encourages federal agencies to take preemptive actions to help reduce the number of American homes with health and safety hazards, the sponsors said.

Announcing the initiative Monday (Feb. 4) at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, were representatives from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Surgeon General, and the Department of Energy.

Healthy Housing
Advancing Healthy Housing

"Advancing Healthy Housing - A Strategy for Action" aims to coordinate federal efforts to reduce the injuries and illnesses from household hazards that cost billions of dollars each year.

Home Crumbling Home

The initiative is a response to the health and safety dangers posed by the widespread dilapidation of U.S. housing stock, officials said.

"Millions of U.S. homes have moderate to severe physical housing problems, including dilapidated structure; roofing problems; heating, plumbing, and electrical deficiencies; water leaks and intrusion; pests; damaged paint; and high radon gas levels," according to the program.

Those problems and others carry "a wide range of health issues, including unintentional injuries, respiratory illnesses like asthma and radon-induced lung cancer, [and] lead poisoning" that "result in lost school days for children, as well as lost productivity in the labor force"—a toll that costs the United States billions of dollars each year, the government said.

Home with lead paint

Lead from paint and other sources in homes will be a target of the new "Strategy for Action."

“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.”

5 Goals

Organizers said the "Strategy for Action" would, for the first time, coordinate federal action to advance healthy housing, largely by promoting strategies and methods to reduce hazards in a cost-effective manner.

The initiative has five key goals:

  • Establish recommendations and criteria for healthy homes;
  • Encourage adoption of healthy home recommendations;
  • Create and support training and workforce development to address health hazards in housing;
  • Educate the public about healthy homes; and
  • Support research that informs and advances healthy housing in a cost-effective manner.

"Healthy homes and communities are essential to our quality of life, our productivity, and our economic vitality,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.

“Through this plan, federal agencies have committed to working together to make sure all Americans can count on safe, healthy places to live, grow, and thrive.”


Tagged categories: EPA; Health and safety; HUD; Lead; Lead paint abatement; Maintenance + Renovation; Residential Construction; Residential contractors; Roofing contractors

Comment from Cherry Scarmardo, (2/7/2013, 8:37 AM)

I sure hope this new "agenda" doesn't put more rules on the contractors!

Comment from Barry Lamm, (2/8/2013, 11:13 AM)

This will probably drive up the cost of buying or selling an existing home more than it will affect new construction. Banks will probably not be willing to lend money to buyers of exinging homes untill all the issues dreamed up by this healthier homes initiative are resolved. That may include removal of all existing lead paint,asbestos and any other material that coulc cause health problems prior to the sale. Such a requirment will have a big impact on trying to sell homes in historic districts since most of those will have these health related materials issues. I suspect the big finacial losers will be the present sellers, many of whom may be eldfly retired families with small pensions.

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