GHHI Highlighted by Baltimore City Paper as a Nonprofit to Support this Holiday Season

The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative is pleased to be featured as one of the nonprofits to support this holiday season in the Baltimore City Paper’s “Do-Gooder To-Do List.” Is GHHI on the list that you’ve checked twice this year? You can do so by supporting GHHI’s efforts to create healthy homes, safe children and happy families by making a donation here: http://www.greenandhealthyhomes.org/get-involved/donate

Reducing the Energy Cost Burden this Holiday Season

Decking the halls is far from the minds of some families this holiday season. For many families, the exorbitant heating costs they face during this time of the year are top of mind.
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative surveyed 107 clients in Baltimore and found that 82 percent of respondents reported an energy burden, indicating they “always” or “sometimes” had difficulty paying monthly utility bills. Fifty-four percent of respondents indicated that they consider their monthly energy bills to be “high,” and 32 percent reported that greater than one-fifth of their monthly income goes to paying utility bills. Thirty-eight percent of respondents also reported that they have received energy assistance in the last 12 months.
Making one’s home more energy efficient and properly weatherized both go a long way in lessening the energy cost burden. In addition to the significant negative health outcomes caused by excess heat and cold, improving energy-efficiency provides much needed financial relief to low-income families better enabling them to meet basic needs such rent or mortgage payments.
There are many low-cost solutions that will enhance comfort and reduce utility costs for residents. Some actions, such as filling in holes that harbor rodents as part of an integrated pest management strategy, not only make the home healthier but also enhance the structural integrity, making it more energy efficient to heat and cool.
Want more information on energy-savings tips to adopt this winter? From covering drafty windows to finding and sealing leaks, the U.S. Department of Energy offers helpful fall and winter energy-savings tips.
Inquire about GHHI’s Energy Efficiency and Weatherization intervention services. Services are provided free of charge to qualifying families living in low-income neighborhoods. For property owners or families not meeting grant qualifications, we offer the same comprehensive services on a fee-for-service basis. To learn more, please email marylandprograms@ghhi.org or call 410-534-6447.
Keep your family safe and warm this winter without the energy cost burden attached. 

Responding to Hurricane Sandy: Important Healthy Housing Tips

Hurricane damage can exacerbate flooding in homes and can lead to problems with mold, lead, asbestos, bacteria, and carbon monoxide. After a hurricane strikes and flooding occurs in your home, it is important to pay attention to hazards that may be present during repairs and cleanup that can cause long term health effects. Click here to continue reading about important healthy housing tips.  
 

Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Commission Public Meeting, Nov. 8

Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took important action to lower the threshold for action for elevated blood lead levels from 10 μg/dl to 5 μg/dl, following decades of scientific research that supported the long-held understanding that there is no safe level of lead for a child. Under these new guidelines, there are 3,200 children diagnosed with lead poisoning in Maryland and more than 440,000 nationwide.
On November 8, the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Commission will host a public meeting to address important questions resulting from the CDC’s recent recommendations on lowering the threshold for childhood lead poisoning and focus on primary prevention. 
The Commission has been asked by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide input into two questions related to the CDC’s recent recommendations that now provide a reference level of 5 micrograms/deciliter. The two questions of concern for the Department are:

How should the new CDC guidelines influence current protocols for referral and case management, particularly for children with a confirmed blood lead between 5 and 9 micrograms/deciliter (mcg/dL)? In particular, should local health departments have the same response for children with blood leads between 5-9 mcg/dL as they do for those children with blood leads of 10 mcg/dL and above?


What is the most appropriate management of children who have previously had blood lead levels between 5 – 9 mcg/dL?

The Commission invites interested members of the public and health care community to attend the meeting and present their opinions on these questions. If you would like to attend and need more information, please contact the DHMH environmental health help line toll-free at 1-866-703-3266. If you wish to submit written testimony, please provide the Commission with 20 copies.
What: Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Commission Public Meeting on Management of Lead in Maryland
When: November 8, 2012
9:30 a.m. – noon
Where: Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21230
 

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. It is a time set aside every year to raise awareness about the threat that lead poisoning still poses to our children and our communities. At the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is every week and has been for the past 25 years.
There are many people who find it hard to imagine that lead poisoning is still an environmental health hazard given that the use of lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978. Sadly, however, hundreds of thousands of children are still poisoned. Although we have made enormous progress over these three decades, the problem of this entirely preventable and costly disease still lingers. The effects of lead poisoning are irreversible, leaving children with learning disabilities, hearing loss, speech delays, ADD and ADHD, and causing aggressive and violent behavior.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 440,000 American children are diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels and, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), more than 24 million homes still contain prominent lead hazards. Children poisoned by lead are seven times more likely to drop out of school and six times more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.
Earlier this year, the CDC took important action to lower the blood lead level by which a child is determined to be poisoned (from 10 µg/dl to 5 µg/dl), following decades of scientific research and the long-held understanding that there is no safe level of lead for a child. What is ironic, however, is that the federal budget passed by Congress at nearly the same time virtually eliminated the Lead Poisoning Prevention program budget at the CDC, reducing funding from $29 million in FY2011 to just $2 million in FY2012.
Clearly, there is still much work to do. As we endeavor this week – and every week – to raise awareness about the ongoing dangers of childhood lead poisoning, we must also raise the volume on the need for funding for these vital prevention programs. Last year, recipients of CDC grants tested more than four million children for lead and conducted case management for nearly 30,000 children. Without 400 local and state staff funded by the CDC program, health departments will be unable to help lead-poisoned children obtain medical care and housing repairs.
There are but a few childhood diseases for which we have found absolute cures or means of prevention, and lead poisoning is one. Remove lead hazards from a home in which a child lives or visits and you eliminate the poison and the subsequent effects on the child’s ability to learn, thrive, and flourish. Please join us in our work to break the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy children and eradicate lead poisoning once and for all.

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