Introducing NCHH’s State Healthy Housing Fact Sheets: EPA Region 1
by Sarah Goodwin
This is the first installment in a 10-part blog series.
Think about your home community. What makes it special? What specific challenges does it face? I’m sure, if given the chance, we could all go on at length about the individuality in the places we live and work. Those of us doing policy work at national organizations spend much of our time focused on the big picture, but the healthy housing needs of each state are unique and varied. We are far more effective as an advocacy community when we remember to take advantage of the perspective and challenges each state brings.
That’s why the National Center for Healthy Housing has created 53 state healthy housing profiles – including the District of Columbia and an overview of the whole U.S. – for use by policy makers and advocates across the country. Each fact sheet offers eight statistics about the healthy housing situation in each state, covering topics including asthma prevalence and financial burden, childhood lead poisoning numbers and age of housing, radon levels, carbon monoxide fatalities, and unintentional falls among older adults. The fact sheets also tell you which of 11 programs at CDC, HUD, and EPA are currently funding your state efforts. Most information was found from federal or state governments, and each fact is hyperlinked back to the source material.
EPA Region 1
Throughout 2018, we’re posting highlights of our state fact sheets by EPA region, one region per month. In January, we’re starting off with EPA Region 1: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- It’s well known among the healthy housing community that the Northeast typically has older housing stock than other parts of the country, and that is one of the first things that sticks out among these six states. Between 55% and 73% of housing in each state was built before lead paint was outlawed in 1978; 20-30% was built before 1940.
- In 2015, the combined regional total of blood lead level tests over 5 µg/dL, the CDC action level, was 9,148. Forty percent (40%) of New Hampshire children are estimated to have had elevated blood lead levels at some point in their lives.
- The region also shares high predicted and tested radon levels. In Connecticut, one in five homes has elevated radon; in Maine and New Hampshire, this number is nearly one in three. An estimated 628 cases of radon-related lung cancer occur in Massachusetts each year.
- Rhode Island has the highest proportion of residents 85 and older in the U.S. at 15.8%, and nearly one in four Rhode Islanders are over 65. Risk of falling is a particular healthy housing issue for older adults. For example, hospital charges for unintentional falls among older adults totaled over $630 million in Massachusetts in 2010.
- Another medical expense that has proved costly to the region is emergency asthma treatment. In 2014, Connecticut spent $135 million on acute care where asthma was the primary diagnosis; in 2012, Rhode Island spent $21 million on asthma hospitalizations.
- The region also boasts some healthy housing milestones. Vermont was the first state to lower its definition of elevated blood lead levels to 5 µg/dL. This legislation was passed in 2008.
- Maine was one of 14 states and localities that benefited from the additional funding for CDC’s Lead Poisoning Prevention program passed in December 2016.
Other NCHH Resources
- The Health Impact Project’s 10 Policies to Prevent and Respond to Childhood Lead Exposure report features case studies into lead poisoning prevention from Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Two of the Lead Poisoning Awareness Community Mini-Grants, facilitated by NCHH in conjunction with the report, were awarded to organizations from this region.
- NCHH’s 2013 State of Healthy Housing includes rankings for Boston, MA; Providence, RI; and Hartford, CT.
- Use this list of building code resources to identify building codes in your state and locality.
NCHH’s state fact sheets will be updated annually with current information. For questions or comments, please email Laura Fudala at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Goodwin joined NCHH as a Policy Analyst in June 2017. She previously served NCHH as a policy intern, helping to establish and run the Find It, Fix It, Fund It lead action drive and its workgroups. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government from American University.