Loyola University Chicago

Healthy Homes & Healthy Communities



Indoor environmental hazards in the home harm millions of children and families each year. Scientists have long recognized that indoor toxic hazards can pose far greater risks to children’s health than outdoor exposures because of the concentrated levels in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development have identified healthy homes/healthy communities as a priority for the coming years and have begun initiative to better understand, combat, and resolve the issues surrounding environmental toxins. Health hazards encountered in the home include: dust, mold, pests, lead (and other heavy metals), pesticides, herbicides, food additives, and a number of other toxic materials.

The consequences of these preventable hazards in the home include asthma, learning disabilities, behavioral problems and degraded health; and dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide and radon which can result in long term brain damage, cancer, and death. The costs to the individual of these toxins can be school absenteeism, learning difficulties, academic failure, lack of employment, lifelong health problems, socialization problems, criminal records. Societal costs include rising healthcare and hospitalization costs, higher special education needs, and increased burdens on juvenile and criminal justice systems.