Ask the Experts

Do you have a question about how to make your home safe, healthy and energy efficient? Ask us! 

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 form to the right and we’ll find one of our experts to help get it answered!

Could mice and roaches be causing my child’s asthma symptoms?

Absolutely! Household pests are a very common asthma trigger for most people with asthma. In order to find out if your child has an allergy to mice and roaches, the best thing to do is to get an allergy test from your doctor. 

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a great way to reduce the presence of both mice and roaches.  Some tips for IPM include:

  • Eliminate all food, water and shelter opportunities for pests in your home. Clutter is an easy way for pests to have hiding spots in your home.
  • Seal any holes in the home the size of a dime or greater. Use copper mesh to fill the hole and apply caulk, foam or concrete to be certain mice and rats cannot chew through it.
  • DON’T USE ROACH SPRAY! To treat your home for roaches use roach baits, boric acid (a thin application) and roach gel as a green and healthy way to get rid of roaches.
  • For pet owners be sure to pick up your pet’s food at night and cover it tightly or place it in the refrigerator.

How can I keep pollen from increasing the severity of my child’s asthma symptoms?

During the spring, pollen can pose a threat to many individuals with asthma or other respiratory conditions.  There are several ways to decrease your child’s exposure to pollen.

  • Make sure your child takes her/his daily asthma controller inhaler and allergy medications as prescribed.
  • Try to keep windows and doors closed, especially during high pollen days.
  • A great way to keep pollen out of the house is to make sure everyone, more importantly the child with asthma, changes their clothes after coming inside from work and school. It’s also a great idea to keep hampers and other laundry baskets in a closet in the bedroom or hallway not directly exposed to sleeping areas.
  • Have children wash their hair at night before going to bed. This helps reduce pollen exposure while sleeping.
  • To check which days will have high pollen counts, check out this great website

Does soil contain lead?

Yes, there are low background levels of lead in all soils. According to the EPA directive, soil lead levels less than 400 mg/kg are generally safe for residential purposes, so we always only remediate sites which have lead levels above the 400 mg/kg limit. -Rupali Datta Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University

Should my landlord have access to information on whether or not my home, which was built in the late 60s, has lead paint?

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, also known as Title X, is designed to protect families from exposure to lead from paint, dust, and soil. This law requires the disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978. Please visit the Environmental Protection Agency's website to learn more about the lead disclosure rule for landlords and sellers. For further assistance, e-mail to learn more about your rights and protections. Please include the state in which you reside in the e-mail.

What are some common household allergens?

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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