At GHHI we have leading experts on lead safety, environmental health, family advocacy, tenant's rights, energy efficiency, home safety issues, pest control and more. They have provided several answers to frequently asked questions on this page. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, send us your questions by filling out the formto the right and we’ll find one of our experts to help get it answered!
Lead-based paint was not banned in the U.S. until 1978 and therefore any home that was built prior to this year may contain lead paint hazards.
Twenty-four million homes in the United States have lead-based paint posing ongoing risks of lead poisoning for children. To find out if your home contains lead hazards, have a certified lead inspector test your home for lead-based paint and lead dust. A blood test is the only way to determine whether your child has an elevated level of lead in his or her blood. Be sure to ask your doctor for your child’s actual lead level results. There is no safe level of lead in a child’s body!
In the home, ways to protect your family include: use lead safe work practices to repair chipping paint or a have a certified contractor do the work safely; regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces with damp cloths or sponges – use a HEPA vacuum to pick up lead dust rather than dry sweeping; wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys regularly; and wipe or remove shoes before entering the house.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas so it can be very hard to detect. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result in death. Carbon monoxide can be a concern in the home when there is not an effective ventilation system; when furnaces, hot water heaters, space heaters, cooking ranges are not maintained or vented properly; and if there is gasoline-powered equipment at use inside. Test all combustion appliances for high levels of carbon monoxide in the home and install a carbon monoxide alarm in the home. Gasoline powered electric generators should never be run inside the home. Carbon monoxide can be a concern in the home when there is not an effective ventilation system; water heaters, space heaters, cooking ranges are not maintained, and if there are gasoline-powered equipment at use. Air should be tested and maintenance of gasoline powered equipment and appliances should be done in the home.
Congress passed Title X, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard and Reduction Act of 1992, which requires that property owners disclose to any tenant or purchaser of a pre-1978 constructed property information on known lead-based paint and lead hazards in the property. Title X requires the full disclosure of information on lead-based paint before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978 in order to ensure that tenants and purchasers are made aware of possible lead paint hazards and are able to protect their families from lead poisoning. If you live in a rental property constructed prior to 1978 and your landlord is not informing you properly of known lead hazards in your building, call the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning at 410-534-6447.
Maryland also has several laws that apply mandatorily to pre-1950 rental properties (“affected properties”). Under the Maryland Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Law, Maryland Environmental Article Sections 6-820 and 6-823 govern the disclosure and distribution of required documents pertaining to lead hazards and tenant rights. If you live in a pre-1950 rental property in Maryland your landlord is REQUIRED to present you with:
1. A copy of the lead inspection certificate for the property that was conducted at tenant turnover before the tenant moved into the property
2. A “Notice of Tenants Rights” pamphlet
3. The EPA’s “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home” pamphlet
Every tenant that has NOT received these items has a right to request them from the rental property owner. Under Maryland Real Property Article Section 8-215, if a tenant has not received a copy of the lead inspection certificate for the property from their landlord, the tenant can send a letter to their landlord requesting a copy of the certificate. If the landlord does not provide a copy of the certificate within 3 days of receipt of the letter from the tenant, the tenant may request to be let out of their lease and to possibly receive up to $2,500 in relocation assistance for ACTUAL COSTS for moving to a lead certified property.
If you live in a rental property constructed prior to 1950 that has chipping, peeling paint, send a written Notice of Defect to your landlord about the defects and make sure that the owner repairs the hazards using a lead certified contractor.
For more information on your rights and lead hazards, please call the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning at 410-534-6447. Read more about Maryland’s state and federal laws >
Testing for radon is inexpensive and easy – and it is the only way to know if your home contains radon. Radon is a gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and can get into any type of building. Some regions in the country have more radon than other areas based on the geology (rock formations) of the area. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) radon website to find out if you live in a community that is at greater risk for higher radon levels.
There are several types of allergens, but some of the common indoor allergens that can trigger asthma attacks include dust, dust mites, mold, tobacco smoke, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and pets. You should also be aware of food allergens, medications, outdoor allergens, and insect stings and bites which may cause an allergic reaction. To prevent or reduce allergies you should avoid things you know trigger allergies. Keep a clean home and reduce household allergens by taking actions such as controlling pests, vacuuming floors and upholstery often, preventing mold growth, eliminating smoking or not smoking cigarettes inside, and limiting the use of pesticides and chemicals (VOCs) inside the house. Download the fact sheet on house hold allergens >
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