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Better health begins at home

Jul 18, 2018

Our ZIP code may play a greater role in health than our genetic code. Differences in life expectancy across America's cities and towns is tied to race/ethnicity and social factors such as income, education, employment – and housing.

Our home's condition can affect our health. Water leaks, poor ventilation, dirty carpets and pest infestation can lead to mold, mites and allergens, which can cause asthma.

The 2017 Child Well-Being Survey found that in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, where housing is older and more families have lower income, children had higher rates of asthma compared with kids in other parts of our region. Fortunately, you can make your home healthier. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Healthy Homes initiative offers these recommendations:

  • Keep it dry. Reducing moisture can cut down on dust mites, roaches, rodents and molds.
  • Keep it free of contaminants such as lead, radon, carbon monoxide, asbestos and secondhand smoke.
  • Keep it pest-free.
  • Keep it safe. Take steps to reduce the risk of injuries such as falls, burns and poisonings.
  • Keep it clean.
  • Keep it well maintained. Poorly maintained homes are at risk for moisture, pest problems, injury hazards, and exposure to lead-based paint.
  • Keep it well ventilated.
  • Keep it temperature controlled. Homes that do not have balanced and consistent temperatures may place your family at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold, heat or humidity.

Visit for more tips.

Dr. O'dell Moreno Owens is the president and chief executive officer of Interact for Health and InterAct for Change. Dr. Owens is a reproductive endocrinologist. He earned an MD, an OB/GYN residency and a master's of public health degree from Yale University School of Medicine. He also obtained a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School. In recent years, Dr. Owens has served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President, and Interim Health Commissioner and Medical Director of the Cincinnati Health Department.

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