Included below is a summary of the findings from the 2009 NCHH survey that polled Americans (18 and older) to determine their level of awareness for common home health and safety risks and identify what steps, if any, they have taken to create and maintain a healthy and safe home.
Lack of Action to Create Healthy and Safe Homes
While the majority of survey respondents realize that the way a home is built and maintained can lead to serious health problems, including asthma or allergies (79 percent), lead poisoning (73 percent), injuries (65 percent) and cancer (47 percent), many have not taken the simple and inexpensive steps needed to create a healthy and safe home environment for their loved ones:
- Less than two-thirds (63 percent) have installed energy efficient lighting.
- Less than half (41 percent) have repaired water damage or plumbing leaks.
- Just 2 in 5 (38 percent) purchase non-toxic or “green” cleaning supplies.
- Just 1 in 3 (34 percent) have installed a carbon monoxide alarm.
- Less than 1 in 5 (18 percent) have installed child safety devices such as stair gates, cabinet locks, or window guards, if children live in or frequent the home.
- Just 1 in 10 (10 percent) have tested for radon.
- Just 1 in 10 (10 percent) have tested for lead-based paint, if the home was built before 1978.
Cash-strapped Families Forego Important Health and Safety Measures
When making home improvement decisions, financial factors often trump health and safety factors. When asked which factors play an important role in deciding to make home improvements, respondents ranked the following most important:
- Two-thirds (66 percent) consider making their home more energy efficient important.
- More than half (53 percent) consider cost, such as cost of supplies or hiring a professional important.
- Nearly half (47 percent) consider improving their home’s value important.
- Less than half (41 percent) consider making the home healthier important.
- Just one-quarter (25 percent) consider making the home safer important.
Living with Health and Safety Risks
When asked to describe their current home, more than two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) admit that they live in a house with at least one major health risk:
- Nearly one-third (29 percent) do not have a carbon monoxide alarm.
- Nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) permit smoking in the home.
- 17 percent report water leaks have been present in the last nine months.
- 15 percent report pesticides are used in the home, mold or mildew is present and pests such as mice or roaches have been present in the last three months.
- More than one in ten (11 percent) report that their home was built before 1978 and the paint is peeling.
Nearly half (49 percent) of survey respondents report living with one or more of the following health and safety concerns at home:
- Extreme temperatures—feels too warm (24 percent) or too cold (19 percent)
- Pests like roaches or mice are present (14 percent)
- Mold growth (11 percent)
- Electrical problems such as power outages, flickering lights, or sockets that do not work (10 percent)
- Conditions in the home make allergies and/or asthma worse (10 percent)
- Damp or musty feeling (8 percent)
Read the full report.