June is Healthy Homes Month; Substandard Housing Can Lead to Health Problems

Modified: June 1, 2017 4:43pm

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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date: June 1, 2017                                

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

June is Healthy Homes Month

Substandard Housing Can Lead to Health Problems 

ERIE COUNTY, NY—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) has designated June, "Healthy Homes Month." A healthy home is one that provides a safe and healthy environment protecting the occupants from disease and injury. Almost 6 million U.S. homes have moderate to severe physical infrastructure problems—such as water leaks and intrusion; injury hazards; pests; and heating, plumbing, and electrical deficiencies.logo

Scientific evidence continues to emerge linking health outcomes such as asthma, lead poisoning, and unintentional injuries to substandard housing. Not just older homes that contain hazards--even newer more expensive homes may have hazards lurking within. HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (“OLHCHH”) estimates that approximately 30 million homes have indoor environmental hazards, including physical safety hazards, lead based paint, and pests.

“National Healthy Homes Month serves as an important educational call to action,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “Providing families with the resources they need to keep their homes safe from potential health hazards such as lead-based paint and pests helps them to create the healthiest home possible for their family.”

HUD has developed a list of Eight Healthy Homes Principles that are simple ways you can help make your home a healthier place to live in:

  1. Keep it Dry: Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, rain water from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.
  2. Keep it Clean: Control the source of dust and contaminants, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.
  3. Keep it Safe: Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. Secure loose rugs and keep children's play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.
  4. Carbon Monoxide--Keep it Well-Ventilated: Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home. Install carbon monoxide detectors in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable codes. Test the alarms at least once a month.
  5. Keep it Pest-free: All pests look for food, water and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least toxic pesticides.
  6. Keep it Contaminant-free: Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using a wet-cleaning method. Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation crack. Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action-level are detected.
  7. Keep your home Maintained: Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems.
  8. Keep your home Thermally Controlled: Houses that do not maintain adequate temperatures may place the safety of residents at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold or heat.

The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) offers several programs to assist Erie County residents in making their homes healthier all year-round.

  • The Healthy Neighborhoods Program assists over 1,000 families each year to alleviate with in-home health hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning, fire hazards, asthma triggers, and tripping/falling hazards.
  • The Rabies Disease and Vector Control Program provides rodent baiting services to keep over 3,000 homes free of rodent pests each year.
  • The Nuisance, Injury Control and Prevention Program receives approximately 4,000 requests for service each year regarding plumbing, heating and ventilation problems, as well as other housing-related issues each year. ECDOH collaboratively works with property owners and occupants to make their homes safer and healthier.
  • The Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs inspect over 2,000 properties each year for potential lead hazards. Property owners, home owners and occupants are eligible for training classes, paint kits and cleaning kits, all designed to make homes lead-safe for our children.  In some cases, families with children under 6 may be eligible for Erie County’s HUD Lead Hazard Control grant program. Last year, 69 families received assistance with lead hazard control including window replacement and other home repairs. The Lead Hazard Control Program is currently enrolling properties for 2017.

For information on all of our healthy housing-related programs, call our Division of Environmental Health Services at 961-6800 or visit our website: www.erie.gov/health .

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For More Information:

ECDOH--Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP)

ECDOH--Lead Poisoning Prevention

HUD—National Healthy Homes Month

National Fire Protection Association—Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips


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Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

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