April 19, 2006
JACKSON KICKS OFF "HEALTHY HOMES FOR HEALTHY KIDS CAMPAIGN" 30-CITY BLITZ TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM HOME HAZARDS
Intensive advertising push to target lower income mothers of young children
LOS ANGELES - Every year, doctors 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 triggered by common conditions in their own homes. Dramatically reducing the number of these tragic stories is the focus of an intensive three-year, 30-city campaign announced today by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson.
HUD's "Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids Campaign" will include print, television and radio advertising, in English and Spanish, designed to confront a multitude of home health and safety hazards that many parents may not even be aware of. Jackson launched the campaign in the Los Angeles area with Congressman Gary Miller and a collection of local health and housing officials.
"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."
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.
In addition to Los Angeles, the following cities will be targeted for this media blitz over the next year: Atlanta; Houston; New Orleans; New York City; Richmond, VA; Washington, DC; Detroit; Chicago; Pittsburgh; Hartford, CT; and, Jacksonville, FL. The "Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids Campaign" will travel to more cities over the next two years as the Department identifies areas where local health and housing departments are working closely to integrate public health strategies with housing rehabilitation.
Iyanla Vanzant is HUD's national spokesperson for this campaign. A best-selling author and principal on the NBC daytime series "Starting Over," Ms. Vanzant is a powerful speaker who has helped countless people embrace positive and meaningful change in their lives. She also brings a personal approach to the subject of children's health. Ms. Vanzant's own grandson lives with the legacy lead poisoning.
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, "Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids Campaign" will inform parents about a number of simple ways they can protect their kids. These techniques include: Wash bedding in hot water, greater than 130� every week; use dust mite pillow cases and mattress covers; eliminate cockroaches using gel baits, sealing outside cracks and storing food properly; and, maintain 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 perhaps 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 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.