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U.S. surgeon general launches new dialogue calling for healthy homes.


SAFER, healthier homes could prevent illness and improve the quality of life for thousands of Americans, according to a new report from the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General.

Launched in May, the "Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes" calls for a national dialogue centered on making homes better environments for their occupants. The call to action addresses the countless health hazards that can be found in any home, from poor air quality to malfunctioning appliances, and outlines steps to eliminate such hazards.

"The science is very, very clear," said Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, MD, MPH, at a Washington, D.C., news conference releasing the report. "Healthy homes lead to healthier lives."

The call to action lays out simple steps that can be taken to design, construct and maintain homes "in ways that support the health of the people inside," Galson said. Such steps cover a wide range of hazards. For example, to prevent falls--the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults--the report suggests installing grab bars in the shower.

The call to action also urges policy-makers, health care providers, community organizations, developers, home builders, inspectors, individuals, families and property owners to do their part to reduce health hazards in housing. For public health workers, the call to action includes a "Healthy Homes Strategic Plan," which touches on research, creating partnerships and program sustainability.

"Home should never, ever be a hazard," said Ron Sims, deputy secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, at the news conference.

Proven healthy home strategies can make a difference. Baltimore homeowner Dorothy O'Bannon told her story at the D.C. news conference, noting that she has taken her youngest child to the hospital monthly since her birth two years ago for asthma problems. Fortunately, her home fell under the jurisdiction of a government grant to promote healthy homes. As a result, she received sheets, mattress covers, air filters, a special vacuum and window replacements, and has not made a trip to the hospital since.

"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," said Howard Frumkin, MD, DrPH, MPH, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health.

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Title Annotation:The NATION: Health news at the national and federal levels
Author:Sloan, Jennifer
Publication:The Nation's Health
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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