National Center for Healthy Housing unveils new standard for safe, healthy homes
Home. The very word conjures and conveys strong feelings. We all want a safe and healthy place to call home. A 2013 report by the Shelton Group found that close to 50 percent of American consumers are concerned about the indoor air quality in their homes. In this same “Eco Pulse” study, consumers show an understanding of what can be done, such as replacing furnace filters and using mold resistant products to keep their homes healthy.
However, we still have a way to go to achieve safe and healthy homes in America. A study by the National Center for Healthy Housing showed that 40 percent of metropolitan homes have at least one serious health and safety hazard. We can do better. And we will.
This spring, NCHH in partnership with the American Public Health Association, will unveil a new National Healthy Housing Standard. The standard was developed under the auspices of the National Committee on Housing and Health and a technical review work group composed of leading international experts and professionals.
The standard was developed for use by government agencies to promote the health and safety of the existing residential housing stock — more than 100 million units nationwide. The document can also serve as a standard of care for any property owner to follow to ensure the health and safety of residents.
Public health and safety protections related to plumbing; safety; lighting and electrical systems; heating, ventilation, and energy efficiency; moisture and mold control; pest management; and chemicals such as radon, lead, formaldehyde, and asbestos are included in the standard.
NCHH is in discussions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal partners to adopt the standard through federal regulations. NCHH also plans to support implementation of the standard in cities and states across the U.S. in 2014 through the traditional code development process. Addressing health hazards in the places we live and making it easy and affordable to fix them is the next step.
Property owners may contend that standards like this require costly repairs and retrofits, how can we address their concerns? And how should we encourage them to prioritize the necessary improvements?
Rebecca Morley, MSPP
National Center for Healthy Housing
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Thoughts on how to address property owners' concerns? How should we encourage them to prioritize the necessary improvements?
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