Introducing NCHH’s State Healthy Housing Fact Sheets: EPA Region 2
by Sarah Goodwin
This is the second installment in a 10-part blog series. Read about EPA Region 1 here.
One of the struggles for those of us on the policy team here at the National Center for Healthy Housing is creating resources that are useful for individuals and organizations working at the state and local levels while still reflecting the wider healthy homes movement. Belief in the power of individual and community stories and needs forms a core pillar of our advocacy work. At the same time, one of the strongest truths we speak to is that no problem is isolated. Yes, paying attention to state and local perspectives and challenges informs us about the unique situation in each place. But it also illuminates how universal many of these problems really are.
In an effort to demonstrate this dual message, NCHH created 53 state healthy housing profiles, covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. as a whole. On each sheet, you‘ll find eight statistics about the healthy housing situation in your state and learn which of 11 programs at CDC, HUD, and EPA have given money to your state in the past three years. Covered topics include asthma prevalence and financial burden, childhood lead poisoning numbers and age of housing, radon levels, carbon monoxide fatalities, and unintentional falls among older adults. Most information was found from federal or state governments, and each fact is hyperlinked back to the source material.
EPA Region 2
Throughout 2018, we’re posting highlights of our state fact sheets by EPA region, one region per month. In February, we’re on EPA Region 2, which includes New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico.
- One of the ways the state fact sheets track the impact of asthma, beyond just prevalence, is the number of emergency department visits with asthma as a primary cause. In 2014, that number was over 168,000 in New York; in Puerto Rico in 2010, 40% of the population with asthma had visited an emergency department for the condition.
- Between New York and New Jersey, 17,523 children tested with blood lead levels at or above 5 µg/dL in 2015. In New Jersey, 13% of children with a positive blood lead test lived in Newark, despite only 3.8% of the state’s children under age six living in the city.
- Puerto Rico does not require blood lead data reporting, but over 3% of children under six are estimated to have elevated blood lead levels. As of 2015, 97.2% of the population was served by water systems in violation of the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule.
- Both New York and New Jersey have high amounts of radon: In New York, over half of counties have predicted indoor levels above the EPA action level, while in New Jersey, radon is associated with between 140 and 250 lung cancer deaths a year. This problem is much less pronounced in Puerto Rico, but the northwestern and southeastern portions of the island are still considered to have moderate indoor radon risks.
- An average of 39 people die annually from carbon monoxide exposure in New York. In New Jersey, carbon monoxide was responsible for 454 emergency department visits in 2015.
- Of course, it’s impossible to talk about the healthy housing needs in Puerto Rico without discussing the overwhelming impact of Hurricane Maria on the island’s housing and infrastructure. More than a third of homes were destroyed or damaged in the disaster; according to Puerto Rico’s government, the cost totals $37 million. NCHH has joined the National Low-Income Housing Coalition and others in calling for increased disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico, including standing up the Disaster Housing Assistance Program.
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 New York. One of the Lead Poisoning Awareness Community Mini-Grants, facilitated by NCHH in conjunction with the report, was awarded to organizations from the state.
- NCHH’s 2013 State of Healthy Housing includes rankings for Buffalo, Rochester, and New York City, NY.
- NCHH provides ongoing technical assistance and evaluation support to the New York State Department of Health Primary Prevention Program.
- NCHH’s Creating a Healthy Home: A Field Guide for Cleanup of Flooded Homes was created for the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and remains a useful resources for families dealing with the aftermath of flooding. A Spanish-language edition is also available.
- 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.