District of Columbia Lead-Safe and Healthy Homes Hub

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Unsafe construction and remediation Unsafe construction and remediation projects can pose a serious threat to the health of DC residents. If you see unsafe work that is spreading paint chips, debris or large amounts of dust in your neighborhood or in your home, please call 202-535-1934 and file a report.  
The most harmful illnesses Did you know that many of the most harmful illnesses that affect children can be triggered or worsened by the condition of your home? Asthma attacks, lead poisoning, some forms of cancer, and many other conditions can be caused by an unsafe environment. Keeping your family safe means keeping your home healthy!  
Children's Blood Testing The only way to know if your child is being poisoned by lead is to have your health provider conduct a screening. In Washington DC, the law requires that all children must be tested for lead twice – once around the first birthday, and again around 2 years of age.  

Mold and Mildew

Molds in the home produce allergens that cause allergic reactions. These reactions can include sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, itchy eyes, and skin rashes. Mold can also trigger asthma episodes and respiratory problems.

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Lead Poisoning

Lead is a metal found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. Lead has many different uses. It is used in the production of batteries, ammunition, metal products (solder and pipes), and devices to shield X-rays.

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Asthma Triggers

Asthma is a lung disease that causes difficulty in breathing and can sometimes lead to death. In the US, around 20 million people are affected by asthma, many of whom are children. When asthma is under control, the airways are clear and open.

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Radon Gas

Radon is a radioactive gas that causes cancer. It is classified as a Class A Carcinogen. It is odorless and tasteless, and exposure can cause lung cancer and deaths. 

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Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small and wingless insects that feed upon the blood of warm-blooded animals. Hatchling bed bugs are the size of a sesame seed, while adults are around a quarter of an inch long.

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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is also called MCS. MCS is when someone has an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants.

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Animal Dander

Animal Dander

Dander from animals may worsen your asthma. Pets produce dander that can put asthmatics at risk. These pets include dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and rodents.

Pet dander is the protein in skin flakes, urine, feces, saliva, and hair, and it can trigger asthma symptoms. These proteins are tiny, and they travel through the air and can land on a body part. They can then easily be transferred to the nose or the mouth and thus inhaled. Symptoms may occur immediately, or they may not develop until 8 to 12 hours later.

How can I decrease my exposure to animal dander?

Removing the pet from the home or avoiding contact with the pet is the most effective way to decrease exposure. If you do remove the pet from your home, make sure to wash all bedding, and clean all surfaces and floors where dander may exist.

Below are also a few solutions to minimizing dander in the home if you do not put your pet outside:

  • Keep your pet out of the bedrooms where your children or you spend a lot of time
  • Bathe your pet weekly to reduce exposure
  • Make sure the person who is allergic or has asthma does not clean the animal’s cage, living space, or litter box
  • Consider hardwood, tile, or linoleum flooring as these products do not retain allergens the way carpeting does
  • Use HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) clean air filters in your vacuum cleaners, and change filters frequently
  • Vacuum carpets two or more times a week
  • Keep your pets away from furniture covered in fabric, carpets, or stuffed animals or toys as much as possible
  • Consider animals that do not cause allergies such as turtles, hermit crabs, fish, or snakes
  • When your pet comes in from outside, towel them with a damp cloth

What are some pets that produce less allergens?

Hypoallergenic dogs can be a great option for dog lovers who suffer from allergies or asthma. They shed little to no hair, and thus shed less dander than typical dogs. Dogs without hair or with continuously growing hair tend to be the most hypoallergenic. However, many people are allergic to dog saliva, and there are no breeds of dogs that have hypoallergenic saliva.

The following are some hypoallergenic breeds of dogs:

  • Basenji
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Border Terrier
  • Chinese Crested
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Havanese
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Maltese
  • Poodle
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Puli
  • Schnauzer
  • Shih Tzu
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier

What are some of the symptoms of asthma from pet dander?

  • Wheezing
  • Long term shortness of breath with episodes of increased shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Chest Pain
  • Nasal Flaring
  • Tightness in the Chest
  • Eczema or rashes
  • Congestion
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Runny Nose
  • Scratchy Throat

Where can I find more information?

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