“The connection between health and dwelling is one of the most important that exists.”
Many of the improvements in health that were achieved in the 20th century resulted from improvements in the nation’s housing. Yet poorly maintained housing still exists. Such housing increases the risk for injury and illness; it continues to affect the health of millions of people of all income levels, geographic areas, and walks of life in the United States.
Some populations are disproportionately affected by health and housing issues. Childhood lead poisoning, injuries, respiratory diseases such as asthma, and quality of life issues have been linked to the more than 6 million substandard housing units nationwide. Residents of these units are also at increased risk for fire, electrical injuries, falls, rodent bites, and other illnesses and injuries. Other issues of concern include exposure to pesticide residues, indoor toxicants, tobacco smoke, and combustion gases. The burning of oil, gas, and kerosene can release a variety of combustion products, including carbon monoxide, a known cause of illness and death.
Increasing the availability of healthy, safe, affordable, accessible, and environmentally friendly homes may help to reduce these health disparities. This will require dedication, ingenuity, skill, and the concerted effort on the parts of many people in many sectors.
Although residents of poorly maintained homes are at increased risk for injury and illness, no population group is immune to illness or injury occurring in houses. Everyone can take actions to protect themselves and their families from health hazards inside their homes. For more information about healthy homes, see the following sites: