HUD Archives: News Releases

Reg. VI - 06-40
Patricia Campbell
(817) 978-5974
For Release
September 1, 2006

Model home exhibit educates parents and kids on how to prevent common home health hazards

HOUSTON - Every year, doctors have to inform parents that their children have been poisoned by dangerous lead-based paint. Public health officials report an alarming increase in the number of children suffering from asthma and allergies triggered by common conditions in their own homes. Dramatically reducing the number of these tragic
stories is the focus of an intensive three-year campaign recently announced by U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson. And this weekend, Houston, which has more than 2500 lead-poisoned children, is the stop in HUD's 30-city outreach effort to teach parents how to prevent these problems.

The focus of the campaign in Houston, which also includes print and radio advertising, is the Healthy Homes Pavilion,
a model home exhibit that will be set up at the Family Fun Day Festival at Tom Bass Regional Park on Sunday, September 3, from noon to 7:00 p.m., with displays and information that teach visitors about how to keep their
homes environmentally safe. Children attending will receive coloring books, crayons, paint paddles, and growth

City organizations that will join HUD in staffing the booth include the Depts .of Health and Human Services; Housing and Community Development; Head Start; and WIC. The Harris County Dept. of Public Health and Environmental Services will also assist.

"Doctors should never have to inform parents that their own home made their children sick," said Jackson. "If we can educate young mothers before their child ends up in an emergency room, then we've done our job. Our goal is to protect children and give parents the tools they need to make certain their kids grow up safe and healthy."

[Photo: Baby wearing a dust mask]

HUD's print advertising includes a dramatic picture of an infant whose face is covered by a dust mask warning parents, "Your home can be hazardous to your family's health." The advertising campaign will instruct parents in 30 cities to contact their local health departments for more information about how they can take some simple steps to keep their children safe.

Lead Hazards

In older homes built before 1978, deteriorating lead-based paint can present a serious health hazard, particularly in children under the age of six. Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, poorer hearing, and a host of other health problems in young children. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school, become juvenile
delinquents and engage in criminal and other anti-social behavior.

At higher levels, lead can damage a child's kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma,
convulsions and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 310,000 of the nation's 20 million children under the age of six have blood lead levels high enough to impair their ability to think, concentrate and learn. To prevent lead poisoning in children, parents can teach good hand-washing practices, clean hard surfaces with a wet mop or rag, and use a HEPA (high-efficiency) vacuum when cleaning carpets.

Asthma and Allergies

Asthma attacks can be triggered by common allergens in the home including mold, dust mites, rodent droppings and excess dust. To reduce these risks the "Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids Campaign" will inform parents about a
number of simple ways they can protect their children. These techniques include washing bedding in hot water
greater than 130° every week; using dust mite pillow cases and mattress covers; eliminating cockroaches using gel baits; sealing outside cracks; storing food properly; and maintaining a well ventilated home.

Mold and Moisture

Mold and moisture can significantly increase allergens in the home that can trigger asthma and other illnesses. The key to mold control is moisture control. After storm damage, or other moisture problem, such as a leaky water pipe, significant levels of moisture can be introduced into homes, giving mold a foothold to grow in wet and warm conditions. It is critical to eliminate the source of the moisture and to dry water-damaged areas as quickly as
possible to prevent mold growth.

HUD is awarding $171 million this year alone to address lead and other hazards in housing. This funding will control these hazards, conduct research, educate housing contractors, and provide outreach to the public. This Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids Campaign is a critical part of the Department's combined approach of controlling hazards and helping families and landlords avoid creating them by giving them the information they need. This Campaign is also
part of a national commitment to eliminate lead poisoning in children by 2010.


Content Archived: March 15, 2011