FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2009
Contact: U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development: 202-708-0685
Office of Public Health and Science: 202-205-0143
Acting Surgeon General Issues ‘Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes’
Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., today issued The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes at a press conference from the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. The Call to Action looks at the ways housing can affect health; its release will initiate a national dialogue about the importance of healthy homes.
“The home is the centerpiece of American life,” Galson, a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service, said during today’s press conference. “We can prevent many diseases and injuries that result from health hazards in the home by following the simple steps outlined in this Call to Action.”
Some examples outlined in the Call to Action include preventing falls by taking measures such as installing grab bars in showers and preparing a fire escape plan. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults.
Other steps outlined in the Call to Action include:
- Check gas appliances, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces yearly and change furnace and air conditioning filters regularly.
- Keep children safe from drowning, lead poisoning, suffocation and strangulation, and other hazards.
- Improve air quality in their homes by installing radon and carbon monoxide detectors, eliminating smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, and controlling allergens that contribute to asthma and mold growth.
- Improve water quality by learning to protect and maintain private water wells.
Galson urged everyone from parents and homebuilders to community leaders and policy makers to embrace the holistic approach to creating healthy homes outlined in the Call to Action.
During the event, Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also announced the release of HUD’s Healthy Homes Strategic Plan. HUD’s plan demonstrates why healthy homes is a national priority, describes what steps should be taken to achieve healthier housing, and highlights the key public and private partners for implementation.
“We are pleased that we are able to release our strategic plan to the nation today,” Sims said. “We must continue to work together across communities and the nation to ensure our homes are sited, designed, built, renovated, and maintained in ways that support the health of residents.”
The Call to Action outlines the next steps of a society-wide approach to healthy homes that will result in the greatest possible public health impact and reduction of disparities in the availability of healthy, safe, affordable, accessible, and environmentally friendly homes.
- Individuals can make their homes healthy and more environmentally friendly by improving air quality, safely using household products, properly using safety devices, adequately supervising children, and abating the use of toxic chemicals.
- Organizations can educate at-risk populations about the connection between health and housing, and identifying and addressing home deficiencies.
- Health care providers can incorporate healthy housing solutions into their protocols.
- Government can help create homes that are affordable and improve people’s health. Adequate supplies of affordable housing must be made available in order for healthy homes to be achieved.
“Good health begins at home. Home is the place that most families connect, talk, and make decisions about their health,” said Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health within the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Ensuring that the nation’s homes are safe, healthy, affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly will have a direct, immediate and measurable effect on the health of the nation.”
The Call to Action also highlights the need for research that links housing conditions with specific health outcomes and that highlights the impact of disparate access to safe, healthy, affordable, and accessible homes. The outcomes of this research should result in tangible improvements to people’s lives by translating practice into policy.
The release of this document is part of a larger Healthy Homes Initiative led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and HUD with support from such organizations as the National Center for Healthy Housing, the Alliance for Healthy Homes, and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.
Please visit www.surgeongeneral.gov for more healthy home information, to download The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes, or to listen to a podcast from the Acting Surgeon General.
To order a printed copy of The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or email firstname.lastname@example.org and reference the publication title.
Please also visit: www.cdc.gov/healthyhomes and www.hud.gov/healthyhomes.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Follow HHS on Twitter @HHSgov and sign up for HHS Email Updates.
Follow HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Twitter @Sebelius .
Last revised: May 7, 2011