HUD Awards $98 Million to Protect Children from Lead and Other Home Hazards

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that it awarded $98 million in grants to protect children from lead and other home-based health hazards. GHHI sites in Salt Lake, San Antonio and Baltimore County all received funding. Rhode Island Housing, a GHHI network partner, also received a grant. More information on the grant via a HUD press release is below.  
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded $98.3 million in grants to 38 local projects to protect children and families from the hazards of lead-based paint and from other home health and safety hazards (see chart below).
The grant funding announced today will clean up lead paint hazards and other health hazards in 6,373 high-risk homes, train workers in lead-safe work practices, and increase public awareness about childhood lead poisoning. Lead is a known toxin that can impair children’s development and have effects lasting into adulthood.
“Childhood lead poisoning is completely preventable and that’s exactly what these funds are designed to do,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones. “The communities receiving these grants are helping their children grow up brighter, safer and healthier.”
“These grant awards demonstrate that a priority for HUD is providing healthy and safe homes for families and children,” noted Jon L. Gant, Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. “HUD is committed to protecting children from the hazards that can be caused by deteriorated lead paint, and by the mold that follows moisture intruding into the home, as part of the Department’s efforts to make the nation’s housing healthy and sustainable.”
These grant programs of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control promote local efforts to eliminate dangerous lead hazards from lower income homes; stimulate private sector investment in lead hazard control; and educate the public about the dangers of lead-based paint. A complete project-by-project summary of the programs awarded grants today can be found on HUD’s website.
Lead Hazard Control Grant Programs
Even though lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978, HUD estimates that approximately 24 million homes still have significant lead-based paint hazards today. Lead-contaminated dust is the primary cause of lead exposure and can lead to a variety of health problems in young children, including reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, and impaired hearing. At higher levels, lead can damage a child's kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death.
The funding announced today directs critical funds to cities, counties and states to eliminate dangerous lead paint hazards in thousands of privately-owned, low-income housing units. These funds are provided through HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control and Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grant programs. To expand the reach of HUD’s Lead Hazard Control Program. HUD is also providing over $4.4 million to help communities transform their lead hazard control programs to address multiple housing-related hazards.
The state-by-state breakdown of the funding announced is available here. 

Good Health Begins at Home

A child’s health can affect his or her ability to succeed in the classroom. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 14 million school days are missed annually due to asthma-related illnesses; making it the number one reason children miss school.
Although Asthma Awareness Month is observed throughout May, to truly combat asthma it takes more than just being aware. It takes action. And enacting a healthy housing approach might be just what the doctor ordered.
It can be disconcerting to any parent to know that something in their home might be making their child sick. But that is often the case with certain home hazards that can trigger and exacerbate asthma symptoms. Forty percent of asthma episodes are caused by triggers in the home.
By reducing asthma triggers in homes, kids are better prepared to go to and stay in school and succeed in the classroom, and parents miss less work caring for sick children. However, many parents that seek assistance to combat home-based health hazards that might be making their child’s asthma worse often run into multiple barriers. The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative helps remove these barriers and provide solutions for homeowners and tenants to remedy the side effects of a sick house.
GHHI integrates home-based environmental health hazard intervention services with energy efficiency and weatherization efforts. Baltimore families that received GHHI whole-house interventions saw an average 67 percent reduction in visits to the emergency department and hospitalizations for treatment of asthma episodes.
If anyone in your home has asthma, GHHI can help you eliminate some of the triggers that may be making it worse. During their in-home visits, GHHI environmental health educators cover a number of topics including: improving indoor air quality; preventing and controlling mold and moisture; removing clutter; and keeping the house clean to prevent infestations of pests and rodents.
For more information about GHHI and what services might be available for you, please email marylandprograms@ghhi.org or call 410-534-6447. Also, take the short assessment on the homepage to see if your home and family are at risk.

Helpful Websites on All Things Asthma

Thank you for continuing to check in during Asthma Awareness Month to learn how to create asthma-friendly environments. For more information on asthma management, please sure to visit any of the sites listed below. As always, please visit the GHHI blog regularly for the latest healthy housing updates.
Asthma triggers: Environmental Protection Agency
Controlling your asthma: American Lung Association and http://noattacks.org/
Indoor Air Quality & Allergies: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology 
Pollen Forecast
Centers for Disease Control

My Life as an Asthma Mom

Did you know that there are things in your home that can make your asthma worse?
I learned this the hard way when my second son was admitted to the hospital twice within a month. He was diagnosed with asthma and hospitalized for three days the first time.  However, the second time he wasn't responding to traditional treatment. In fact, he didn’t improve at all after three days, so an asthma specialist was brought on board.
Asthma Doc visited with us and asked all sorts of questions about our home. Did we have pets? Did we have wall-to-wall carpet? Did we use scented candles? Did we have silk floral arrangements or trees? I was wondering why he was asking these questions. But then he explained how things in your home can cause asthma attacks.
Suddenly, I was thrown into the world of asthma. I’ve had asthma all my life, but didn’t realize that all three of my children would inherit it from me. 
We decided to listen closely to the doctor and immediately made changes in our home to reduce the risk of allergies and asthma. Here are some of the things we did:

Wood floors: wood is easier to keep clean than carpet. I can actually see the dust and suck it up with a vacuum. Gotcha!

Vacuum twice a week: it helps reduce dust.

Remove shoes: I ask everyone to remove their shoes when they enter my home, as they carry dirt, bacteria and fungus.

Don't store anything under beds: these items collect dust, which you breathe all night long.

Limit stuffed animals on the bed: these are also dust collectors--I let my daughter have her two favorites.

Wash bedding weekly in hot water. This kills dust mites and removes pollen.

Use dust mite-proof pillows or pillow and mattress covers. These protect your pillows and mattress.

Use roll-up shades or roman shades in bedrooms. Horizontal blinds catch a lot of dust. How often do you clean your blinds?! It's not on my list of favorite things to do. Because shades roll up, there's nothing for the dust to collect on. I notice that my kids are sneezing less, so it's working!

Use central air rather than an evaporative cooler. Evaporative coolers suck in pollen and air pollution, plus they encourage mold growth.

No pets! If you already have them, keep them off the bed and out of the bedrooms. 
This list may look overwhelming, but just pick a few things to begin with. When everyone pitches in a little bit each day to clean, you can see some dramatic results in reduction of asthma triggers and attacks. A clean house is a healthy house. It will help everyone with asthma breathe easier. Who wouldn't want to do that for their child?
Helpful websites:
Environmental Protection Agency
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Contact the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative to learn more about its asthma program at marylandprograms@ghhi.org or 410-534-6447. Also, visit GHHI’s dedicated page on asthma.
About Andrea: I have asthma and fell in love with a wonderful man with a family history of asthma. The result is three kids with asthma! We have had multiple doctor appointments, ER visits and hospitalizations all thanks to asthma. It has changed my life. I went from working as an Interior Designer to a Public Health Educator. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and I help other families learn about asthma. I'll share what I've learned over the last 12 years with you.

10 Steps to Make Your Home Asthma Friendly

Ok, it’s time to clear the air…of asthma triggers. Our friends at the Environmental Protection Agency offer a handy one-pager with 10 steps to ensure that your home is asthma friendly. It is available for download here. Below are just a few of the tips.
Good night, little mite! Dust mites are also triggers for asthma. For mite population control, cover mattresses and pillows with dust-proof (allergen impermeable) zippered covers. Wash sheets and blankets once a week in hot water.
Play it Safe. Ozone and particle pollution can cause asthma attacks. Watch for the Air Quality Index (AQI) during your local weather report. When AQI reports unhealthy levels, limit outdoor activities.
Break the mold. Mold is another asthma trigger. They key to controlling mold is controlling moisture. Wash and dry hard surfaces to prevent and remove mold. Replace moldy ceiling tiles and carpet.
Contact the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative to learn more about its asthma program marylandprograms@ghhi.org or 410-534-6447. Also, visit GHHI’s dedicated page on asthma.
On May 9, Andrea Jensen of the blog “My Life as an Asthma Mom” will stop by as our Asthma Awareness Month guest blogger where she will talk about, well, you guessed it — her life as an asthma mom and how she creates an asthma friendly home! We’re looking forward to having her.

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