Hazards in the Home

A healthy and safe home should be: dry, well ventilated, pest-free, hazard-free, well-maintained, and able to protect residents from extreme heat or cold. Yet millions of American households do not meet this basic definition, according to a report released in July 2016 by the Center for American Progress. Of the 135 million homes in the United States, a large number pose significant threats to their inhabitants. According to the report:

  • More than 30 million housing units in the U.S. have significant physical or health hazards, such as dilapidated structures, poor heating, damaged plumbing, gas leaks or lead.
  • About 6.8 million housing units have elevated levels of radon.
  • Seventeen million homes have high exposure to indoor allergens.
  • Twenty-three million housing units have one or more lead-based paint hazards.
  • About six million have moderate to severe physical infrastructure problems.

Most of these homes are located in areas of “concentrated disadvantage”—neighborhoods with high rates of violence, unemployment, racial segregation and single-parent homes. The report shows how people living in these areas are more likely to suffer health problems, such as depression, asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Creating Safe and Healthy Living Environments for Low-Income Families is available for download at americanprogress.org. iBi