Researchers from the UC Department of Environmental Health will be part of a national training program to educate health and housing professionals in the discipline of “healthy housing.” The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) was awarded a $300,000 cooperative agreement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop this National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network.
UC’s investigators will work during the first year of this program to develop curricula used for training. If funds become available, UC may offer courses in Cincinnati during the second and third years of the program.
“We have had a number of years of experience in developing courses for national use to address one major housing-related health problem: the use of lead in housing paints,” said Scott Clark, PhD, professor in the UC Department of Environmental Health. “Our extensive research in this area aided us in the development of courses which have been used to train thousands of practitioners across the country. We have long known that the 'single health threat approach' was inefficient and did not make effective use of the public health personnel's time, nor did it fully meet the needs of the residents. This new Training Center and Network will be a comprehensive approach, addressing as many potential problems as possible.”
Housing-related health concerns include childhood lead poisoning caused by ingesting lead-based paint and dust; and asthma episodes triggered by exposure to dust mites, pets, and mold. Cockroaches, rats, and mice also are significant problems that impact health and well being. Exposure to pesticide residues and other indoor toxins, tobacco smoke, combustion gases, and particulates are also likely to be part of the course offerings. Unintentional injuries are an important healthy housing issue as they are the number one cause of death for children and young adults in the United States.
“We are in the midst of a fundamental shift in health and housing policy,” said NCHH director, Rebecca Morley. “Health professionals are moving away from treating environmental diseases to identifying their sources and preventing them. Likewise, cutting-edge housing professionals are heading off liability, maintenance and repair costs by incorporating healthy housing principles into their practices. The goal of the National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network is to reinforce these trends and to build a workforce that will help bring these practices to scale.”
Other UC participants include Judy Jarrell, EdD, professor and director of Continuing Education in the UC College of Medicine; and William Menrath, MS, senior research associate, Department of Environmental Health.
The first universities to participate in the training center and network include: Eastern Kentucky University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Washington, and the University of Wisconsin.