Healthy Habitat

Lead

Exposure to lead can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and even death. Lead is considered a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes such as paint, pipe solder, and other building products.

Some of the most common sources of lead poisoning are deteriorating lead-based paint, lead contaminated dust, and lead contaminated residential soil. Children six years old and under are most at risk to these potential health effects because of the tendency children putting their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in and around there mouths. Children sometimes also each chips or soil that contains lead dust and during renovations that disturbs lead dust can be inhaled.

Some facts about lead are: lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born. Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies. You can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead. You have many options for reducing lead hazards. In most cases, lead-based paint that is in good condition is not a hazard. Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to your family.

Drinking “Potable Water” Water

Potable tap water is not without its problems; did you know that in 2005, a nonprofit Environmental Working Group tested municipal water in 42 states. The EWG study revealed some two hundred and sixty contaminants were found in public water supplies they tested. The study also determined that out of the two hundred and sixty contaminants, one hundred and forty-one were unregulated chemicals for which public health officials had no safety standards or methods for removing these unregulated chemicals.

Many people believe that bottled water is better than tap water. The Natural Resource Defense Council has conducted extensive tests on municipal water supplies as well as bottled water, says: “In the short term, if you are an adult with no special health conditions, and you are not pregnant, then you can drink most cities’ tap water without having to worry.” This is because most of the contaminants in public water supplies exist at such small concentrations that most people would have to ingest very large quantities for health problems to occur.

It has been reported that 25 to 30 percent of bottled water it comes straight from municipal tap water systems, despite the advertising on the bottles that may imply otherwise. Bottled water is required to be tested less frequently than tap water for bacteria and chemical contaminants. The Natural Resource Defense Council has researched bottled water extensively and has found that it is “subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those which apply to city tap water.”

In addition, the Natural Resource Defense Council has reported that there are no requirements for bottled water to be disinfected or tested for parasites. Therefore some bottled water may present similar health threats to those with weakened immune systems, the elderly and others they caution about drinking tap water.

Disease Vectors and Pests

Homeowners have all encountered from time to time problems with rodents, cockroaches, fleas, termites, ants and other insects around and in their homes. These pests can destroy property, carry disease, or both, and can be a problem for dwelling occupants.

Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques are designed to control, eliminate and reduce threats to human health and property. This system approach to the problem relies on more than one technique to reduce or eliminate pests. It can be visualized best as concentric rings of protection that reduce the need for the most risky and dangerous options of control and the potential for pests to evolve and develop. It typically involves using some or all of the following steps:

  1. Monitoring, identifying, and determining the level of threat from pests
  2. Making an environment hostile to pests
  3. Eliminating food sources, hiding areas, and other pest attractions
  4. Using traps and other physical elimination devices
  5. When necessary, selecting appropriate measures of elimination for identified pests

Healthy Habitat

The quality of housing is an essential component to the health and risk factors within the dwelling. A properly constructed dwelling along with proper maintenance is nearly timeless in its usefulness. A home is one of the biggest single investments a person will make in one’s lifetime. But more must be done to control existing conditions to understand emerging threats that remain poorly understood.

One example of understanding emerging threats is exposure of children to lead poisoning from residential lead paint hazards in older homes. Another is the health threat of contaminated drinking water in rural areas where on site wastewater systems are prevalent.

An significant increase in asthma in recent decades has a direct relationship to housing conditions such as excess moisture, mold, settled dust allergens and ventilation. Simple affordable construction techniques and materials that minimize moisture problems and indoor air pollution, improve ventilation, and promote durability and efficiency continue to be uncovered.

Safe, affordable housing is a basic necessity for every family. Without a decent place to live, people cannot be productive members of society, children cannot learn and grow, and families cannot thrive!