March/April 2019
DirectorDirector's Update

I hope everyone is enjoying a safe and healthy spring. This month, the newsletter highlights the past few years of the HHP and is evidence to the hard work of all our state partners, and the impacts they have had in making homes safer and healthier.

Are you aware that HUD has updated the Lead Paint Safety GuideYou might remember that it is pocket sized, used by contractors and homeowners, and is considered the best field guide on handling lead paint in homes. The HUD Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes produced it to provide important safety and lead handling practices for painting, repairs, and home maintenance for anyone who performs routine maintenance on homes or apartments built before 1978.  This guide will help them plan and safely carry out the work, while minimizing the production and spread of lead dust. 

On Monday, April 1 at 2:00  - 3:30 PM EDT there will be a webinar on HUD's Lead Paint Safety field guide. It will discuss important changes and updates to the guide (find the link below in events).

Finally, in a little over two months, we will again be participating in the annual Healthy Home's Month in June. Look for the HUD Healthy Homes Toolkit soon to begin planning for your activities and outreach.

Michael Goldschmidt, National Director - Healthy Homes Partnership
USDA NIFA HH Happenings
Greetings from Washington, DC, United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA).
NIFA relocation to outside of the DC metro area remains a priority for our agency leadership. T he list of Expressions of Interest has been scaled down from 136 to 67. USDA is committed to transparency and will be sharing additional information as progress is made toward the goal.

NIFA Request for Applications are being released frequently. Please keep abreast of new   funding opportunities. Note, each RFA has a National Program Leader contact listed for additional information.
The HHP will continue to be administered at University of Missouri, pending approval of funding for FY19. We are excited about the possibility of being able to expand to additional states. More information will be forthcoming soon.  
Remember your impacts help us to illustrate to the American people how research, education and extension are improving lives. Partner with NIFA to highlight your discoveries and accomplishments! Follow @USDA_NIFA and Tweet us your stories using #NIFAIMPACTS or email
Please feel free to contact me at with your ideas, comments, and feedback about Housing & Environmental Health programs.

Beverly Samuel, NIFA - Division of Family & Consumer Sciences (DFCS), National Program Leader, Housing & Environmental Health.   
National HHP Story

This is a good time to review the overall mission, activities, and impact of the National Healthy Homes Partnership (HHP) of the last four years.
First, a brief reminder of the mission: HHP translates housing research into a stakeholder and consumer outreach program dedicated to reducing housing deficiencies and mitigating risks associated with family diseases and injuries due to poor housing conditions.

For the last 18 years, HHP has assisted individuals, families, and professionals using a variety of tools that address:
  • mold
    Go Green: Make and Take Cleaning Workshops (University of Georgia)
  • safe drinking water
  • lead poisoning
  • pests
  • pesticides and chemicals
  • carbon monoxide poisoning
  • radon and other toxins
HHP is funded by an interagency agreement between USDA NIFA and HUD Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. Funding provides 8-10 land grant institutions with yearly grants to enhance statewide activities and maintain a national presence. All together, HHP is represented in
35 states and territories.

National projects include: the HHP website, social media, webinars, mobile apps, this newsletter, and development of unique curricula for various audiences. The educational toolkit developed by HHP incorporates the 8 principles of healthy housing that are widely recognized across federal agencies and organizations.

HHP Highlights :
8 Principles of a Healthy Homes in American Sign Language by UConn Student, Hailee Parenteau: ASL sign for "healthy"
  • Using a variety of outreach methods, HHP had almost 90,000 direct audience contacts in 4 years, including 22,000+ educators and professionals trained to work directly with families on healthy homes issues.
  • Annual average of 600 home visits and 2,200 consultations by phone.
  • Exhibits at fairs and other venues reached 30,000 consumers yearly.
  • 15,000/year participated in trainings and workshops.
  • Of 20,000 stakeholders, many were Extension educators, non-profit social service providers, health care and child care providers.
  • Social media and website (national and state specific) content reached 191,000/year. Some were via boosted postings in the aftermath of disasters (hurricanes, wildfires, floods).
  • Indirect outreach through traditional media (newspaper, radio, and television) estimated to reach 9.7 million viewers.
As part of HHP, state land grant institution partners have engaged active, state healthy homes coalitions of organizations to foster collaborations, with 360 members in at least 13 states. This newsletter is a resource to these coalitions and HHP educators.
State HHP activities were reported quarterly and impact assessments were conducted to estimate adoption rates of healthy homes strategies as a result of the program and associated family health improvements.
Kandace Fisher-McLean, National Coordinator - Healthy Homes Partnership
Topics of the Month:  Asthma & IPM


According to, anyone can get asthma: people of all ethnic groups, male and female, young and old, city dwellers and rural dwellers. In the US, more than 20 million people have asthma. Common among children and teens, about three students in an average classroom of 30 have asthma.

Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma. Many of the symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma are the same, however, allergic asthma is triggered by inhaling allergens. An allergen is a normally harmless substance such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, or mold. If someone with asthma is allergic to a substance, it triggers a response starting in the immune system. Through a complex reaction, these allergens then cause the passages in the airways of the lungs to become inflamed and swollen, resulting in coughing, wheezing, and other asthma symptoms.

The size of particulate matter (PM), such as dust, pollen, combustion particles, organic compounds, etc., is directly linked to its potential for causing health problems. The EPA is concerned about particles that are 10 microns (micrometers) in diameter or smaller because they can pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, they can effect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.

The EPA groups particle pollution into two PM categories:
  1. "Inhalable coarse particles" (common near roadways, dusty industries, etc.) are 2.5 -10 microns in diameter. 
  2. "Fine particles" (in smoke, haze, etc.) are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter and pose the greatest risk to health. Often referred to as PM2.5, they can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, combustion in the home, cooking, or when gases emitted from power plants, industries, and automobiles react in the air. Learn more about the health effects of PM2.5 here. 

To reduce exposure to hazardous PM2.5 in the home, it is highly recommended to:

  • Use MERV 13 rated filters in the return air grille of the HVAC system.
  • Run the range hood exhaust fan when cooking (if it exhausts to outdoors), even if there seems to be little or no steam or odor. Cooking with oil can produce high PM2.5 levels. 
  • Use vacuum cleaners with microfiltration bags and a HEPA filter.
  • Ensure that gas appliances and fireplaces do not backdraft. Choose direct vent, sealed combustion types when buying new units located in the living space. Do not buy or use a ventless fireplace or heater indoors.
  • Avoid continuous exhaust-only ventilation systems that constantly draw unfiltered outdoor air into the home. For whole house ventilation, select filtered supply or balanced ventilation systems.

How small is 2.5 micrometers? Think about a single hair from your head. The average human hair is about 70 micrometers in diameter, making it 30x larger than the finest particle!

The case for providing pest management services to asthma patients is grounded in research suggesting that pest  allergens both cause and trigger asthma. Researchers have  induced physiological characteristics of bronchial asthma  by sensitizing and exposing mice to house dust containing  high concentrations of cockroach allergen, pointing to  cockroach allergen as a cause of asthma.

The impacts of pest exposures on health outcomes are striking:
  • The landmark National Cooperative Inner City Asthma Study (NCICAS) found that children who were both allergic to cockroaches and exposed to high cockroach allergen levels were three times more likely to require hospitalization for their asthma than children who were not allergic or not exposed to cockroach allergens.
  • The Inner City Asthma Study (ICAS) revealed mouse allergens to be an independent risk factor for asthma morbidity: children who were sensitized to mouse allergens and exposed to it had significantly higher hospitalization rates, maximum symptom days, nights of lost sleep, and days when caretakers had to change plans due to asthma.
Principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM):
  • Identify pest problems through monitoring and inspection.
  • Block pest entry points.
  • Remove pests' food, water, and shelter.
  • Use low-toxicity, low-risk pesticides only as needed.
IPM is an alternative to traditional pest control methods that is both more effective and poses fewer risks to asthma patients and other members of  their households.

It is a common-sense approach that emphasizes detecting and correcting conditions that lead to pest problems.  It favors actions that prevent pest infestations, like blocking pest entryways and eliminating food and water sources; practitioners selectively use low-toxicity, low-risk pesticides as a last resort.

From The Role of Pest Control in Effective Asthma Management: A Business Case, by Molly Brett and Laurie Stillman at Health Resources in Action
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.
#DidYouKnow On average, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors? Cmmon indoor allergens - such as dust mites, mold, cockroaches, pet dander and secondhand smoke - can trigger or even cause asthma. Check out this fact sheet for more 2018 asthma statistics.
True/False:  Asthma is the leading cause of absence from school.

True!  According to the CDC, asthma is a leading chronic illness among children and adolescents in the US. It's also a leading causes of school absenteeism. On average,  3 out of 30 students are likely to have asthma. Check on the CDC page for more basic facts about asthma!
Are you looking for information on your state's IAQ laws or policies? The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) provides information about state policies and programs on a variety of IAQ-related topics. These materials and resources are available free from ELI's Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program portal, where you can browse a variety of topics and publications. ELI materials are organized into five areas: mold, radon, homes/landlord-tenant, schools/childcare, and green buildings.
GOT NEWS?  Send it  to us! Share any  news and resources of interest to other HHP partners!

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

Sustainable Water Management Conference - March 31 - April 3, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona
This conference will present solutions for balancing the benefits of conservation with the costs, managing water resources, sustainable utilities and infrastructure, urban planning and design, energy efficiency, water conservation, stormwater and reuse. Click here to register.

Lead Paint Safety Field Guide Webinar - April 1, 2:00 - 3:30 PM EDT
This webinar will discuss important changes and updates to HUD's Lead Paint Safety field guide. Recently updated by the HUD Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, this guide includes important safety and lead handling practices for painting, repairs, and home maintenance. Click here to register.

NEHA 2019 Annual Educational Conference (AEC) & Exhibition
July 9-12, 2019 in Nashville, TN
The National Environmental Health Assoc. brings together professionals to learn and discuss current and emerging environmental health topics and issues. Discover how the local voices of agencies, industries, and levels of government provide unique perspectives and how they fit into the universal language of environmental health. Learn how these voices ensure the safety of the public and environment, and how they contribute to the advancement of the environmental health profession. Click here to register.

EEBA High Performance Home Summit - October 1-3, 2019 in Denver, CO
Building the Future: Solutions for Healthy, Resilient and Affordable High-Performance Homes is the theme of this year's Energy & Environmental Building Alliance summit.  Sessions will present the latest in building science, combined with real-world application and problem-solving. Presentations will cover topics of special interest including:
  • Defining, building and selling a Healthy Home
  • Resilience in the Built Environment
  • Building the Home of the Future with Innovation, Cost Efficiencies and Sustainability
  • Water Efficiency & Conservation

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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 Program Assistant.