Federal Agencies Launch Action Plan to Make Homes Safer and Healthier

Feb 13, 2013, 2:00 PM

Several federal agencies have teamed up for a joint initiative, Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action, to reduce home-based injury and illness. Agencies at the table include the Office of the Surgeon General, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Energy.

People spend up to 70 percent of their time in a home, according to the group, and millions of homes each year are the source of serious health problems including asthma, lung cancer, unintentional injuries and lead poisoning. Home health hazards can include structural problems, damaged roofs, heating, plumbing and electrical deficiencies, leaks, pests, peeling walls that exposing children to lead-based paint and high levels of radon gas.

The initiative has five goals:

  1. Establish healthy home recommendations.
  2. Encourage adoption of healthy home recommendations.
  3. Create and support training and workforce development to address health hazards in housing.
  4. Educate the public about healthy homes.
  5. Support research that informs and advances healthy housing in a cost-effective manner.

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin spoke at a press conference to launch the new Action Plan and in 2009 released a healthy homes strategy that the new initiative builds on. This Action Plan dovetails with the National Prevention Strategy, launched two years ago to improve the health of all Americans. Dr. Benjamin told NewPublicHealth, “Health is in everything we do. We need to make it a part of our lives. Our home should be a place you feel safe.”

file HUD Infographic on Steps to a Healthy Home

>>Bonus Links:

  • A new website will continually update resources aimed at making homes healthier, including grants and community training opportunities.
  • The Surgeon General’s Healthy Homes initiative includes a checklist that renters and homeowners should use to help prevent injuries and illness in their homes.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.