Increased time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic means many Wisconsin families have been exposed to more health hazards due to unsafe housing conditions, including lead paint, radon, asthma triggers, secondhand smoke, or mold, according to the Department of Health Services.

“For too many families in Wisconsin, home is not always the healthy haven that it should be,” said Dr. Jon Meiman, chief medical officer in the DHS Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health. “We know that the physical condition of people’s homes affects their health in many ways, so we encourage families to learn more about potential home hazards and resources available to help. Even the smallest changes can add up to big health improvements.”

Pre-pandemic, Americans spent 90 percent of their time indoors on average, with an estimated two-thirds of that time spent in homes. COVID-19 has highlighted racial and economic disparities for many families, including the lack of access to safe and affordable housing.

There are many no- to low-cost options that renters and property owners can use to help create a safer and healthier living environment in their homes, which is especially important for children, older adults, pregnant women, people with asthma and lung diseases, and other vulnerable populations. Here are five important steps individuals and families can take to create a healthy home:

  • Review the healthy home checklist to see if there are problem areas that need to be fixed to protect your family’s health.
  • Learn about the causes of lead poisoning in the home and what you can do to prevent it, and find out if you should have your children’s lead levels tested.
  • Test your home for radon and find out how to lower high radon levels.
  • Get rid of things that can trigger asthma, like dust, tobacco smoke, mold, pests, pet dander (dead skin flakes that pets shed), chemicals, and strong odors.
  • If someone in the house smokes, learn about programs to help them quit smoking. This will help improve their health and also get rid of secondhand smoke for others.

For more information about ways to make your home healthier, visit the Department of Health Services healthy homes webpage.