Envionmental Psychology

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Healthy Homes

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Although Americans spend nearly 40 billion dollars a year on lawn upkeep, the fact is that they actually spend nearly 90 percent of their time indoors. It may be an interesting paradox, but all that time spent indoors increases their chances of being injured or made sick by the various health hazards that exist in many American homes. 

Our neighbor took this picture of a young roadrunner inside her storage building.

It seems even wildlife prefers the indoors!

Roadrunner by Madlyn Creekmore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roadrunner by Madlyn Creekmore

A report by the Healthy Homes Partnership (HHP), which is a joint collaboration between the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the University of Wisconsin Extension, estimates that more than 6.5 million Americans were injured by accidents in their homes. In other cases, people are being made sick by the very factors that make their homes energy efficient.

According to the HHP website, www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/consumers.html, the HHP study discovered that a number of the most serious health problems found in children (especially young children) actually had their beginnings at home. The site asks questions about lead in the home, the safety of the home's tap water, the types of household chemicals being used, and many others in an attempt to offer parents clues as to possible danger areas.

Another watchdog group, the Alliance for Healthy Homes (AFHH), has joined in the call for increased prevention of home hazards, offering further information about potential household dangers on their website, www.afhh.org/index.htm.  According to the site, there is evidence that a number of household factors can cause or contribute to childhood asthma, including mold, dust, and various chemicals such as pesticides, asbestos, carbon monoxide, and radon.

There is evidence that the efforts of such groups are beginning to pay off, since more and more homes are being built without the use of certain glues that are known to produce harmful fumes, plastics, and various laminates. These types of products were initially introduced to make products more useful, durable, and efficient, but many of them have inadvertently caused health problems in unintended ways.

For instance, homes have been made so that the interior is kept at a relatively constant temperature with very few pollutants in the air year round. However, there is evidence to show that such homes may actually contribute to colds and allergies, since the inhabitants of the home aren't exposed to temperature variances and a certain amount of naturally-occurring organic materials that are in the air during any given season.

Certain chemical additives have made the wood, paint, paper, and composite materials used in home construction much more durable, but a number of those additives are suspected of contributing to various health problems if inhabitants are exposed to them for a length of time.

If you or your family seems to be experiencing chronic health problems or an unusual frequency of illness, it may be your home that's the major contributing factor. In any case, you'll find it worth your while to visit the HHP and AFHH websites listed above to gather more details about the possible health dangers that may exist in your home.

Open your windows and spend time outdoors to ensure a healthy home life.

Copyright 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

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