by Nick Gromicko, CMI®, Ben Gromicko, and Kate Tarasenko
People in the U.S. spend about 70% of their lives inside their home, and almost 20% in a school or other commercial building. These numbers suggest that the condition of the home is a primary factor in a person’s overall health. If your home has problems, your health may be suffering, too.
Of the 137 million homes in the United States:
- 30 million have a defective heating, plumbing, or electrical system;
- 12 million have problems with water leaks;
- 4 million have experienced mold problems within the last year; and
- 7 million have serious damage to the roof.
Poor housing conditions also include:
- a dilapidated exterior;
- structural problems;
- flaking paint; and
- radon gas.
These conditions are all associated with a wide range of health issues, including injuries due to accidents, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, lead poisoning, and even cancer. The condition of a person’s housing is an important influence on their health.
And, consider this: If you purchased a new-construction home in 2013, it probably has some deficiencies simply because the building codes and standards have actually improved since then. For example, let’s say you purchased your new home in Baltimore. In 2013, the requirement for ceiling insulation was a minimum of R-38, and for framed-wall insulation, it was R-16. In 2017, those minimum R-ratings were updated to R-49 and R-20, respectively. That’s an increase of about 25% in Maryland’s energy-efficiency requirements. And existing houses built before then likely have some kind of deficiency in some home system because of when and where the house was built.
Scientific evidence demonstrates a solid relationship between housing and human health. Studies on the economic burden of specific defects in homes show costs rising into the billions of dollars annually. Hazards associated with the home contribute to both poor health and the economic burdens on society at large.
The good news is that most home-based hazards are preventable. And it starts with getting your home inspected. A healthy home provides a safe and healthy environment for your family.
A healthy home is:
- free of contaminants;
- well ventilated;
- well maintained; and
- thermally controlled.
Substandard housing has long been associated with a wide range of health hazards, including respiratory infections, lead poisoning, injuries, and mental health issues. In the 19th century, public health officials began to target poor sanitation, over-crowding, and inadequate ventilation to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases, as well as fire hazards.
Today, we use multiple strategies to maintain improved living conditions, such as developing and enforcing construction guidelines and codes, and advocating for safe and healthy housing that’s also energy-efficient. A healthy community starts with a healthy home, so contact your InterNACHI®-Certified Professional Inspector® and ask for a Healthy Home Inspection today!