Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Health Problems at Home

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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 17: A Healthy Home > Health Problems at Home


Our homes are not separate from the environment. They can have many of the same environmental health problems we find in our communities and workplaces. When planning a new home or improving the home you live in, you can protect your health by considering problems caused by how and where houses are built, how they are furnished, and what work is done at home.

Illustration of the below: a bedroom.
Open eaves and windows without screens can let in mosquitoes carrying
malaria and dengue.
Electrical wiring can cause fires if not
properly installed.
Lead paint flakes, if eaten or breathed in, damage the nerves and brain.
Carpets and furniture may contain finishes, sealants, or glues that are harmful when touched or breathed in. Also, they can be breeding places for insects.
Animals in the house can cause allergies and asthma, and their droppings can cause worm infections and other illnesses.
Illustration of the below: A cooking area in a home.
Air pollution from outside the home, especially in cities, industrial areas, and where large amounts of pesticides are used, causes asthma and other illnesses of the lungs, nose, throat, and eyes.
Rodents, mosquitoes, and other insects can live and breed in roof thatch and cracks in the walls and floors, spreading diseases such as Chagas.
Cracks in foundations, floors, and walls, and unsealed roofs and windows cause heat loss and dampness. This allows mold to grow on walls, bedding, and furniture. Mold can cause breathing problems, rashes and other illnesses.
Cleaning products, pesticides, and other chemicals can cause skin rashes, respiratory illnesses, and other long- term health problems.
Lead water pipes pollute drinking and cooking water, leading to birth defects and other serious health problems.
Germs from food or food surfaces where food is prepared cause diarrhea and food poisoning.
Burning any fuel without ventilation releases carbon monoxide (CO) and other harmful gases into the air, leading to serious illnesses.
Open fires make harmful smoke that causes illnesses of the nose, throat, eyes, and lungs, and cause burns and house fires.
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