PA Lead and Healthy Homes Program
The Pennsylvania Lead and Healthy Homes Program (LHHP) seeks to create safe and healthy housing by addressing environmental health and safety issues in homes. When hazards are present in a home, they can have a profound effect upon the health of the occupants, particularly those most vulnerable such as children and seniors.
Some home conditions contribute to asthma development or exacerbation, including mold, mildew, dust mites, pests and pet dander. When these allergens are reduced or eliminated, thereby reducing asthma triggers, children have fewer and milder asthmatic episodes.
Lead paint and the dust that results from the breakdown of the paint, can lead to serious health issues, including loss of IQ, ADD, ADHD, coma and even death. Other home conditions that can lead to illness or injury are safety hazards, carbon monoxide and radon. In 2008, there were 4,620 non-fatal injuries due to non-motor vehicle accidents for children aged 14 and under - a rate of 201.7 per 100,000 residents. Low-income, young children are particularly vulnerable to health complications associated with unhealthy home environments. In 2000, Pennsylvania’s 1,043,455 children under seven years of age placed seventh in the nation for having the most children in that age group.
Pennsylvania’s diverse landscape of rural and urban communities includes some of the oldest housing in the nation. Indoor environmental health and safety hazards tend to be found disproportionately in older and substandard housing. According to the 2000 Census, Pennsylvania was second in the nation, behind New York, for having the most housing units built before 1950. Pennsylvania’s 2,113,422 pre-1950 built units account for approximately 40 percent of its entire housing stock. The correlation of high lead levels with older housing is very strong.
Lead paint was not banned until 1978; therefore, many of Pennsylvania’s homes hold potentially hazardous sources of lead exposure. Recent studies have shown that even low blood lead levels in young children are more dangerous than previously thought. In 2007, 5,833 (or, 4.6 percent) of the state’s 126,522 lead-tested children under six years of age had a maximum blood lead level result equal to, or greater than, the established threshold of elevation (10 micrograms per deciliter).
Statewide, in 2009, there were 24,458 inpatient hospitalizations due to asthma, or 19.4 per 10,000 residents. The rate for children under 5 was 48.5 per 10,000 residents, the highest of any age group. The cost for those hospitalizations was approximately $556 million, not including physician charges. Asthma triggers such as mold, mildew, and dust mites continue to disproportionately impact the most vulnerable populations living in the oldest Pennsylvania housing.
To promote safe and healthy housing, the Department of Health is developing the Lead and Healthy Homes Program. Implementation of this program is anticipated to begin in July 2013. The purpose of the Lead and Healthy Homes Program is to reduce hospitalizations, injuries, illnesses, or deaths from preventable home health or safety risks. This program aims to address multiple hazards in homes and prevent diseases and/or injuries that result from housing-related hazards by:
conducting comprehensive home assessments to identify potential hazards;
providing education and interventions to prevent health or safety problems before negative outcomes occur;
coordinating follow-up medical care in the event that health conditions are identified;
establishing or strengthening local partnerships to reduce health and safety risks in homes;
collaborating with appropriate enforcement agencies to enforce existing regulations that address healthy housing issues.
Seven Principles of Healthy Housing
Lead and Healthy Homes Program
Bureau of Family Health
Health & Welfare Building
7th Floor, East Wing
625 Forster St.
Harrisburg PA 17120
Housing and Urban Development Healthy Homes Brochure
Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes
EPA's National Lead Information Center
A Healthy Home Checklist
CDC's Healthy Homes Initiative
Integrated Pest Management
HUD Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control
National Center for Healthy Housing
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