November/December 2019
In This Issue
HUD HH Happenings
State Stories - Connecticut & Oklahoma
DirectorDirector's Update

Last month we learned that our national program leader at USDA-NIFA, Beverly Samuel, decided to retire. Beverly has been a colleague and tremendous resource for the Healthy Homes Partnership (HHP). Under Beverly's leadership, HHP funding has doubled and we've been able to provide more outreach materials and support to our sub-grant states. We wish Beverly much success in her future endeavors and will send her a special acknowledgement of her role as our liaison to USDA-NIFA. We are now working with Caroline Crocull in an interim role until a new leader is designated in the USDA Kansas City office.

This year we celebrate 20 years of the Healthy Homes Partnership -- with a mission to link resources of the US Dept. of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) and state Land-Grant Universities with the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (HUD/OLHCHH). Our outreach education success will be documented in a special report in early 2020.

In the next few months we will work on finishing our Toolkit for Healthy Homes Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, an array of materials for Native American communities, and a new smartphone app. We will also promote last year's projects: a new Middle School Healthy Homes curriculum, smartphone youth app, and new website, social media, and webinar content.

Earlier this month, we administered very successful webinars for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Of particular note, one of the webinars was on the new Lead Paint Field Guide presented in Spanish. Recordings of these webinars can be found on our HHP website.

On behalf of the National Healthy Homes Partnership, we wish you a safe and happy holidays and a happy new year.

Michael E. Goldschmidt, AIA LEED AP BD+C
National Director - Healthy Homes Partnership
Betty Ann Cortelyou Faculty Scholar
Associate Teaching Professor and State Extension Housing Specialist
HUD HH Happenings

On Nov. 5, HUD OLHCHH and HHP partnered with the National Tribal Air Association's (NTAA) Indoor Air Quality Work Group in holding an important publication production meeting in Flagstaff, AZ. The NTAA, based at Northern Arizona University, is the 2nd largest national member-based organization with 147 principal member Tribes. A wide range of valuable suggestions were made to help make 4 OLHCHH Tribal HH draft publications resonate better with Tribes. 

The educational materials offer action-oriented information on health-related impacts of poor IAQ and other hazards, and guidelines for healthier housing. They're segmented specifically for decision-makers and leaders, Tribal family members, health and medical workers, and housing professionals serving Native Americans and Tribal agencies. In prior phases, HUD's Office of Native American Programs, OLHCHH Tribal grantees provided inputs, as did other federal agencies, including EPA's IAQ Office (HQ), the CDC, and Indian Health Service.
OLHCHH and University of Missouri are also developing  4 new HH publications for professionals and the general public in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. The scope entails healthy homes disaster recovery and general outreach/education. The CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC/ATSDR) learned of this project and we have since been partnering with Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education (CSP). The CSP model focuses on applying 4 key elements of safe siting to larger, center-based Early Care and Education (ECE) programs. We have been given the opportunity to include content to ATSDR's draft Disaster Recovery Supplement, which builds upon a 2017 guidance manual. These materials assist environmental and public health professionals in assessing places where children spend time to protect children from harmful environmental exposures during disaster recovery.

For more information, please contact Kitt Rodkey at
State Stories

Mary Ellen Welch demonstrates where germs hide with a black light and glow germs.

This year we had the opportunity to engage with employees at corporations at lunch and learn programs and health fairs, at a town health fair, and at the Work/Life Expo at UConn. We designed interactive games to illustrate HH principles and emergency preparedness concepts - Jenga, simulated emergency preparedness Beach Ball Bounce (with a tarp), financial evacuation go-kits, 30-second videos, and Jeopardy.

Demonstrating cross-contamination of food in after-school youth program.

The Healthy Homes Team designed an Extension HHP presentation for the Connecticut Dept. of Public Health's Annual Meeting. Professionals from municipal and state agencies, non-profit groups, and hospitals learned about the resources and workshops we provide for youth and adults.

Hand-washing poster created by a UConn 4-H after-school club member as part of Nation Hand-washing Awareness Week

A 4-H Youth Specialist held a series of   activities with 4-H after-school youth, including a  poster contest for Global Hand-washing Day in Dec. to prevent the spread of germs, just as flu season was taking hold. A 2nd series was held in the spring with another youth group on hand-washing, tools for a healthy home, and food safety. The kids played games to identify steps to keep hands and food surfaces clean when preparing foods. They used sponges with paint to simulate raw and cooked chicken and black lights to inspect and compare their  hands, as well  as other activities like HH  Jeopardy, etc.

The UConn Extension Healthy Homes Team
Marc Cournoyer, Faye Griffiths-Smith and Mary Ellen Welch


Watch for the release of a new app!
The Healthy Homes Partners App
The new Healthy Homes Native American app will be released in the near future. As a reminder, we previously created:
  • Healthy Homes Partners Youth App
  • Healthy Homes Partners App
Visit the Apple App Store to download these exciting resources.
  • The purpose of the apps is to provide information that can help educators and consumers address housing deficiencies and risks associated with childhood diseases and injuries.
  • The objective is to add value to current Healthy Homes Solutions programming.
Gina Gould Peek, Ph.D.
Associate Department Head/Associate Professor
Graduate Program Coordinator
Cooperative Extension Housing and Consumer Specialist

When wildfire smoke gets inside a home, it can make indoor air unhealthy.  The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into lungs. They can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to aggravated chronic heart and lung diseases. Exposure to particle pollution is even linked to premature death. People at greatest risk are those with heart and lung diseases, children and older adults

But here are steps from the CDC to share with your audiences about how households protect health and improve air quality in their homes:
  1. Check local air quality reports. Listen for news or health warnings about smoke. Find out if the community reports EPA's Air Quality Index (AQI) or check the report on icon. Also pay attention to public health messages about safety measures.
  2. Consult local visibility guides. Some areas have monitors that measure the amount of particles in the air. 
  3. Keep indoor air as clean as possible. When advised to stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean. (See more info below about filters!)
  4. Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.
  5. Prevent wildfires from starting. Prepare, build, maintain and extinguish campfires safely. Follow local regulations and weather conditions if you burn trash or debris. 
  6. Follow the advice of your healthcare provider about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Consider evacuating if you are having trouble breathing. Call your doctor for advice if your symptoms worsen.
  7. Do NOT rely on dust masks for protection. Paper "comfort" or "dust" masks are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. They do  not protect lungs from the more hazardous small particles found in wildfire smoke. Read about choosing effective respirators for smoke.
  8. Evacuate from the path of wildfires. Listen to the news and follow the instructions of local officials about when and where to evacuate. Take only essential items with you. Follow designated evacuation routes since others may be blocked, and plan for heavy traffic.
  9. Protect yourself cleaning up after a fire. Cleanup work can expose you to ash and other products of the fire that may irritate your eyes, nose, or skin and cause coughing and other health effects. Learn how to stay safe cleaning up after a wildfire.
Filtration Efficiency
The most common industry standard for filter efficiency is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV rating. The MERV scale for residential filters ranges from 1 through 20. The higher the MERV rating the more particles are captured as the air passes through the filter. MERV 13 filters are recommended to capture very small particles that can most affect health.

Central Air System Filter

The filter used in a home central heating/cooling (HVAC) system can  reduce indoor particle concentrations when the system is operating, so it can help but is not a total solution. Running the furnace on constant fan during a smoke advisory may increase particle capture, but it is not recommended to keep the fan on constant routinely, especially when air conditioning (since that can redeposit moisture into the air).

Many home systems use a low MERV 1-4 flat fiberglass filter that is 1" thick. Replacing this filter with a medium efficiency filter (MERV 8-12) can help improve air quality in your home. However, a true high efficiency filter (MERV 13-16) can reduce indoor particles by as much as 95% and provides at least 50% removal of the smallest particles tested, which are of greatest health concern. Most HVAC systems can accommodate a MERV 13 filter without creating equipment problems.

MERV 17-20 are most efficient but may restrict airflow too much for the typical HVAC system.  Consult with an HVAC contractor or manufacturer to confirm which (or if) high efficiency filters will work with your system. 

Portable Air Cleaners

Portable air cleaners are self-contained air filtration appliances that can be used alone or with enhanced central air filtration. How well they reduce air particle concentrations depends on factors such as: size of the air cleaner, the area to be cleaned, the filter efficiency, run time, and 
fan speed.  They can be run continuously more economically than the central HVAC system.

To filter particles, choose an air cleaner that has a clean air delivery rate (CADR) that is large enough for the size of the area in which it will be used. The higher the CADR, the more particles
it can filter and the larger the area it can serve. 

NOTE: Avoid air cleaner and filters that intentionally produce ozone, which is actually a lung irritant.


There are several methods to lower radon levels in a home. Some techniques prevent radon from entering a home while others reduce radon levels after it has entered. EPA generally recommends methods that prevent the entry of radon. Soil suction prevents radon from entering your home by drawing the radon from below the home and venting it through a pipe to the air above the home where it is quickly diluted.

Diagnostic tests may be needed to design a radon mitigation system, depending upon details specific to the home, such as the foundation design, what kind of material is under the house, and by the contractor's experience with similar homes and similar radon test results.

Home Foundation Types
The home type affects the kind of radon reduction system that will work best. Homes are generally categorized according to their foundation design. For example: basement; slab-on-grade; or vented crawlspace. Some homes have more than one foundation design feature. For instance, it is common to have a basement under part of the home and to have a slab-on-grade or crawlspace under the rest of the home. In these situations, a combination of radon reduction techniques may be needed to reduce radon levels to below 4 pCi/L. Homes entirely elevated above a vented crawl space are unlikely to have an elevated radon level.

Basement and Slab-on-Grade Homes
In homes that have a basement or a slab-on-grade foundation, radon is usually reduced by one of four types of soil suction: subslab suction, drain-tile suction, sump-hole suction, or block-wall suction.

Active subslab suction - also called subslab depressurization - is the most common and usually the most reliable radon reduction method. One or more suction pipes are inserted through the floor slab into the crushed rock or soil underneath. They also may be inserted below the concrete slab from outside the home. The number and location of suction pipes that are needed depends on how easily air can move in the crushed rock or soil under the slab and on the strength of the radon source. Often, only a single suction point is needed.

 A radon vent fan connected to the suction pipes draws the radon gas from below the home and releases it into the outdoor air while simultaneously creating a negative pressure or vacuum beneath the slab. Common fan locations include unconditioned home and garage spaces, including attics and the exterior of the home.

Passive subslab suction is the same as active subslab suction except it relies on natural pressure differentials and air currents instead of a fan to draw radon up from below the home. Passive subslab suction is usually associated with radon-resistant features installed in newly constructed homes. Passive subslab suction is generally not as effective in reducing high radon levels as active subslab suction.

Some homes have drain tiles or perforated pipe to direct water away from the foundation of the home. Suction on these tiles or pipes is often effective in reducing radon levels.

One variation of subslab and drain tile suction is sump-hole suction. Often, when a home with a basement has a sump pump to remove unwanted water, the sump can be capped so that it can continue to drain water and serve as the location for a radon suction pipe.

Block-wall suction can be used in basement homes with hollow block foundation walls. This method removes radon and depressurizes the block wall, similar to subslab suction. This method is often used in combination with subslab suction.

Read more from The Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction here.
SocialSnacksSocial Snacks

Here are short posting ideas on the topic of the month that you can use in your social media outreach to consumers. 


PLEASE FEED ME!   If you use social media for HH outreach, please send us your posts that produce big  reach  numbers  to share in a future newsletter.
True/False:  A neighbor's radon test result is a good indication of whether you have a problem.

False!  It's not. Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.

True/False: Indoor air is cleaner than outdoor air.

False!  Indoor environments have 2 to 5 times more pollutants than outdoor environments. In extreme cases, indoor pollutants have been recorded at levels 100 times higher. Combine all that indoor air pollution and with the fact that we spend 90 percent of our time inside and it's no surprise that the EPA has ranked poor IAQ among the top five environmental health risks.

OLHCHH Celebrates 1st Anniversary of Smoke-
Free Public Housing Rule

HUD's Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes is pleased to celebrate the anniversary of  HUD's Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing rule issued by HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH).  The rule requires all public housing agencies (PHAs) to prohibit smoking inside and within 25 feet of the exterior of public housing residential and administrative buildings.

HUD's smoke-free rule reflects its commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities. By reducing secondhand smoke exposure, the rule creates healthier environments for families living in public housing, and reduces the risk of fire.

For more info, check out the OLHCHH Smoke-Free webpage or visit the PIH Smoke-Free Public Housing webpage.
GOT NEWS?  Send it  to us! Share any  news and resources of interest to other HHP partners!

This pdf is the Partner Info Toolkit that HHP educators can use. The main themes are 1) Get the Facts, 2) Get Your Home Tested, and 3) Get Your Child Tested. 
Check out the NHHM 2019 Digital Tookit! Its purpose is to help partners prepare and promote activities or events at the local level. It offers messaging, implementation ideas, and resources. Many of these resources can be custo mized to reach a wide variety of audiences, including parents, caregivers, contractors, hardware stores, trade associations, the media, and others.
HUD's Lead Paint Safety Field Guide has been updated. This guide is a valuable tool that thousands of workers and contractors across the country have used as part of a national effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning.  Sample content includes key stages of a job, surface prep, cleaning up, checklists, and an extensive resource section. It also includes unique illustrations depicting steps for proper maintenance.

The PDF can be accessed here or dial 1-800-424-5323 for hardcopies via the National Lead Information Center.
EPA announced the  Smoke Sense mobile application update is now live on Android and iOS devices for use by the public to protect their health from wildland fire smoke. 

If you have the previous version, be sure to update the app.  If you are a new user, visit the link above to download the app for free from Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
HUD's new Healthy Homes Youth App  is available to help middle-schoolers learn about potential household contaminants such as lead, mold, radon, or VOC's. This App helps kids learn about their home's indoor environment, focusing on actions they can take to have a healthy home. Downloadable from the App Store for customers with devices running iOS 11 or later, and macOS 10.13 or later.
The HUD  Healthy Homes Basics mobile app  offers practical how-to guidance on how to have a safe and healthy home, right at your fingertips. The app offers introductory information and guidance for consumers by teaching the "Principles of a Healthy Home." For those users more familiar with healthy homes concepts, the app features detailed information by topic. It's available on Apple, iTunes, and Google Play app stores.
Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home consumer action guide is the updated and shortened HHP publication that replaces Help Yourself to a Healthy Home. For each HH subtopic is a brief description of the Hazard, Health Effects and Source along with a checklist of actions to take to protect health. The new 12-page format can be economically printed, and has a checklist that can be duplicated on a single sheet of paper for mass distribution. This resources can be used in conjunction with lesson plans available in the Healthy Homes toolkit.
Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home stakeholder guide is a 40-page publication designed for professionals that serve families through consultation or outreach. This guide can be used to educate, assess, advocate, train, and set standards and policy on healthy homes for their organizations. This resources can be used in conjunction with lesson plans available in the Healthy Homes toolkit.
The HUD website is a valuable source of information and links to upcoming healthy home events, news, resources, programs, popular topics and more -- including the Healthy Home Basics mobile app and educational videos.
The HUD Healthy Homes Disaster Recovery Toolkit is available online as a free PDF. Contents include links to recovery and response videos, the Rebuild Healthy Homes how-to guidebook, fact sheets for consumers, stakeholders and pros in English and Spanish, HUD contacts and more. 
UpcomingEventsUpcoming Events

The NC State Extension has partnered with the NC Radon Program to conduct four free webinars during the month of January 2020. These are intended to raise awareness of radon, the leading cause of lung cancer in the US. Each webinar has limited space. 
  • Jonathan Samet, MD on January 9, 2020 from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
    • This presentation will address the basics of radon: where it comes from, how it causes cancer, and what we know about the health risks from radon. Dr. Samet's presentation will provide a historical perspective on steps taken to reduce exposures in mines and homes.
  • Dallas Jones, Executive Director, AARST on January 21, 2020 from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
    • Dallas will present on 1) the free online availability of the ANSI/AARST standards for residential radon testing and investigation; 2) the basic standards of testing and mitigation for existing homes; and 3) the basic standards of soil gas control systems in new construction (also known as Radon Resistant New Construction).
  • Evan Kane, Manager, on January 30, 2020 from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
    • Evan will focus on the work by Wake County government to notify private well users about the risk of naturally-occurring radionuclides and provide them with tools to address it, enact local regulations for testing new private wells, and educate local professionals from the building and real estate industries to address these issues.

2020 National Healthy Homes Conference  June 29 - July 2, 2020
Presented in conjunction with the HUD Grantees Program Manager's School (June 29-30), this event brings together professionals from a wide range of disciplines, including environmental health, public health and safety, community development, lead hazard control and healthy housing.

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Good Health Starts at Home  builds upon the Healthy Homes initiatives and partnership of the United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Healthy Homes and lead Hazard Control (HUD) that address housing-based health and safety risks. Its network of state coordinators have partnered with state agencies, medical professionals, schools, and community groups to educate families on home health hazards.

Healthy Homes Highlights is produced by LSU AgCenter's LaHouse Resource Center. Authors: Claudette Hanks Reichel, Professor and Extension Housing Specialist, and Haley Moore, LaHouse Graduate Assistant.