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LOWELL - Is your home really clean and healthy? Or are the cleaning solutions you use contributing to family allergies? Are invisible toxins like lead, radon and asbestos causing problems? Are there smokers in the house? Is the heating system spreading molds and funguses? Are you tracking in pesticides from the lawn?
Keeping a home healthy is a challenge, with many hidden problems.
UMass Lowell's Center for Family, Work and Community is shining a light into the corners with the Healthy Homes program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the Lowell Public Health Department.
The Healthy Homes program is holding a three-hour training session, offered several times in March and April, about common health hazards in the home. The sessions are open to the general public, as well as to leaders of municipal agencies and community organizations who visit people in their homes.
"We tend to think of home as a safe haven," says Dr. Stephanie Chalupka, associate professor of nursing, who trained the graduate nursing students and others who are presenting the training sessions. "The average American spends 90 percent of the time indoors." But combustion fumes, formaldehyde from building materials, chemical fumes and biological pollutants are all important to know about.
The bad news is that small children are at higher risk. They play on the floor, where pollutants collect, and they explore the world by putting things in their mouths.
The good news - "Environmental disease is highly preventable," says Chalupka. "Developing cross-cultural approaches to healthy homes is rewarding and important work."
The training session is designed to be culturally sensitive to Lowell's large minority communities and will also be offered in Spanish. A large manual will serve as a take-home reference for participants.
For information on the schedule and availability of training sessions, contact the Center for Family, Work and Community at 978-934-4677.