Homes

The American Lung Association worked with partners to develop the National Asthma Public Policy Agenda to reduce the suffering and death from asthma. We hope that groups and individuals who care about asthma will embrace the recommendations found in the Agenda and push to get them put in place nationwide. The policy agenda recognizes that, to succeed in our fight against asthma, we must make changes at the federal, state, and local levels, and usually, we act on many issues at the same time.

Homes may be the most critical environment for managing asthma. Homes too often contain known asthma triggers, including secondhand smoke, dampness and mold, cockroaches and dust mites. “Homes” include apartments and other multi-unit housing, group homes, shelters, and institutionalized settings, as well as single-family houses. By adopting policies that create safe home environments, we can help those suffering from asthma and other lung diseases.

Here are the 4 recommendations in the National Asthma Policy Agenda (PDF).

  1. Housing code ordinances should protect people with asthma against indoor air problems. Housing codes are an established tool that can and should be used to reduce asthma triggers in homes. However, these codes vary considerably in their requirements and are often underused.

    Strategies:

    • Develop guidelines for state/local health departments on best practices/regulations and codes that best protect indoor air
    • Adopt model indoor air quality codes
    • Require use of integrated pest management in multi-unit housing
    • Improve federal regulations to address indoor air quality conditions in subsidized and public housing
  2. Housing code enforcement should be strengthened to reduce prevalence of indoor air quality problems. Unhealthy indoor air can be a threat to anyone at home, especially those with asthma. Reducing these risks can lead to better management of the disease.

    Strategies:

    • Provide training for housing code enforcement officials on applying codes to address indoor air quality problems
    • Provide authority and capacity for the local health department to take legal action to enforce indoor air quality-related codes and laws (including nuisance laws)
    • Provide capacity within state and local housing inspection agencies to offer specialized services to identify and remedy indoor air quality problems where families with asthma reside
    • Improve legal and other recourse for tenants to enforce local laws (including judicial education, increasing legal services, tenant education)
    • Provide capacity for state and local health departments to offer guidance to property owners on identifying and remediating indoor air quality problems including information on smokefree policies
  3. Multi-unit housing should be smokefree. Second hand smoke is a threat for people with asthma and a serious indoor air pollutant that should be eliminated. Having smokefree housing is an important step to help those with lung disease.

    Strategies:

    • Pass ordinances to require smokefree, multi-unit housing
    • Encourage owners of public housing to make multi-unit housing smokefree
    • Establish policy within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to require all federally funded public housing to be smokefree
  4. New and remodeled housing, including public housing, should be built to promote healthful indoor air quality. The best way to protect indoor air quality is to prevent problems before they begin. By following a set of specific guidelines, healthier indoor air can be obtained. “Green buildings” do not necessarily protect from asthma health concerns.

    Strategies:

    • Establish policy within the HUD to require new construction, rehabilitation, repair and remodeling in federally funded public housing to follow guidelines for healthier indoor air quality