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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!

How do I know if my home has radon?

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.

Learn more about radon and steps for prevention >

I'm a Maryland resident concerned about possible lead hazards in my building. The landlord is not providing any information. How can I resolve this issue?

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 >

How can I get keep bugs and rodents out of my home?

Pests, such as cockroaches, mice, rats, and dust mites, can cause and worsen asthma attacks in children. Droppings and urine from pests are asthma triggers because they can contain proteins that cause allergic reactions. Avoid using highly toxic pesticides that may actually cause asthma attacks.  There are many safe and effective ways to rid your home of pests using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, including:

Steps to Eliminate Rodents in Your Home:

Eliminate possible food and water sources:

  • Repair water leaks as soon as possible
  • Keep food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids
  • Clean up spilled food right away and wash dishes and cooking utensils soon after use rather than leaving them in the kitchen sink or on the countertop.
  • Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean
  • Always put pet food away after use and do not leave pet-food or water bowls out overnight
  • Keep bird feeders away from the house and utilize squirrel guards
  • Use a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid
  • Keep compost bins as far away from the house as possible (100’ or more is best)
  • Dispose of trash and garbage on a frequent and regular basis
  • Pick up or eliminate clutter

Eliminate harborage sites for rodents:

  • Get rid of old trucks, cars, and old tires that pests could use as homes
  • Eliminate burrows under decks, steps, piles of wood or debris
  • Elevate woodpiles and garbage cans at least 1 foot off the ground. Move woodpiles far away from the house (100 feet or more is best)
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well-trimmed within 100 feet of the home
  • Seal openings around windows, doors, and trims
  • Repair open/broken windows and/or screens
  • Seal holes, cracks, openings or broken concrete in the foundation where rodents can enter the home
  • Seal gaps around chimney caps, vents, trims, and moldings
  • Seal openings around pipes, wires, conduits, air conditioners, etc. that enter the building
  • KEEP THEM OUT! Eliminate all openings through which they can enter a structure
  • TRAP THEM! Trapping is an effective control method, preferred when only a few mice are present in a building

Steps to Eliminate Cockroaches in Your Home:

  • Remove all possible food sources that contain high levels of starch and water by keeping food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids
  • Remove water sources
  • Keep good sanitation in the home by regular cleaning and mopping
  • Use boric acid, a lower toxic pesticide which is available as a general use insecticide. Apply boric acid behind walls as a light layer in out-of-the-way areas – under stove and refrigerators, and behind the bathroom vanity and inject it into any crack you find that is not accessible to pets and young children
  • Baits (Gel or roach hotels) with Fipronil work well. Place baits in areas where you see roaches and frass (roach wastes resembling grains of black pepper) that are not accessible to pets and young children
  • Seal holes and entry points into the home including caulking all cracks
  • Install vents, fans and dehumidifiers and properly maintain to reduce moisture in the home as most roaches hate dry conditions
  • Prevention - Inspect grocery bags, cardboard boxes, drink containers, used furniture and appliances for roaches before bringing them into your home

Learn more about pests and steps for prevention >

Are there any home health and safety hazards I can prevent?

Safety hazards in the home include fires, lead poisoning, choking, falls, and other preventable injuries. These hazards are both extremely costly and can be life threatening for small children. Preventing injuries promotes safe and healthy homes because making a home safer increases the quality of life for the family, and there are quick and affordable solutions for making the safer for children.

Learn how to identify household hazards >

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