Healthy Homes

NCSL Resources

Code

Note

The information on this page is for reference by state legislators and legislative staff.  If you are a homeowner, landlord or tenant with questions about carbon monoxide detector requirements in your area, please contact your state or local housing department.


Issues such as lead-based paint, radon, mold or carbon monoxide can jeopardize the health of a home environment.  Government agencies often rely on health and housing codes or laws that specifically deal with issues such as the ones described above to address resident or neighborhood health, safety, or welfare problem. Health codes and housing codes are usually comprehensive and provide departments and agencies with broad authority to control public nuisances of threats to the collective health or selfare of a community.

Lead renovation and repair

neighborhood homesAt least four million households are exposed to lead in the United States today. Many houses built before 1978 have lead-based paint; 70 percent of homes built before 1960 have lead-based paint. That number rises to 87 percent for homes built before 1940. If the paint is stable and not deteriorating, lead is not an issue. However, deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged, or damp) requires attention. Renovation or repair work on older homes can also disturb lead-based paint and cause health hazards.[1]

Though the sources of lead have been identified and remedies acknowledged, children continue to be poisoned because of the enormity of the problem. Lead, as an element and a highly toxic metal, exists throught  the United States. Almost 5 million tons of lead were used in residential paint, 7.3 million tons were used for leaded gas.[2] Massive amounts of lead were also used in plumbing and numerous other consumer and industrial goods. Although its current uses and production have been greatly reduced, lead remains a threat because it persists indefinetly in the environment. When absorbed by humans, lead disturbs veirtually every bodily sytem, most severely the brain and central nervous sytem. Extreme lead poisoning causes convulsions, mental retardation, seizures, and sometimes death; low levels of poisoning reduce intelligence, delay cognitive growth, and impair physical development in children, infants and fetuses, lead is particularly harmful because it damages the developing brain and central nervous sytem permantently.[3] [4]

The CDC has recently revised its standards of “blood level of concern,” reducing the standard from 10 to 5 micrograms per liter of blood. This change will allow doctors testing children to inform parents of the concern and help them to take action to prevent lead poisoning.
 
For more information on lead renovation and repair, please see STANDARDS FOR LEAD-BASED PAINT HAZARD REDUCTION and the NCSL links below and the featured links to the side. Visit Lead Legislation and Statutes for more information.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas emitted from combustion processes. Nationally and, particularly in urban areas, the majority of CO emissions to ambient air come from mobile sources. CO can cause harmful health effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body's organs (like the heart and brain) and tissues. At extremely high levels, CO can cause death.[5]

There are a variety of state statutes that address carbon monoxide alarms. As of January 2015, 29 states have enacted laws regarding carbon monoxide detectors—Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Visit Carbon Monoxide Detector Requirements, Laws and Regulations for more information.

Radon

Almost every state has some policy addressing radon.Twenty-nine states require disclosure of radon hazards upon sale of a house; 21 require radon inspectors and/or mitigators be licensed. Nine states require new construction be radon-resistant, and another 23 have local codes mandating radon resistant new construction. In 27 states, radon is part of their building code.

Since radon is found in every part of the country (view EPA's radon map), most states have some regulation, though certain states—such as Iowa and North Dakota—have a higher incidence of radon than others.

Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon requires all new homes be built following radon-resistant new construction (RRNC) standards. New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia and Washington require RRNC to new housing in high radon areas. Florida, Maine, Rhode Island have voluntary RRNC codes that may be adopted by local jurisdictions. Visit Radon Legislation and Statutes for more information.

Bedbugs

Bedbugs are tiny reddish-brown pests that live off the blood of humans and animals. They are attracted to humans and like to hitchhike in luggage, used furniture, and clothing. The make their nests in mattresses, box springs or anywhere they have easy access to people to bite at night. And their numbers are on the rise.

Although they do not commonly transmit disease, their bites can cause rashes and other discomforts. Tolerant of many pesticides there are few effective residential treatments.

State landlord and tenant duties

The following is a review of state laws addressing residential landlord-tenant leases, focusing on the respective duties of the landlords and tenants found under the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (ULTRA). Every state except  North Dakota has a law. The laws for the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and South Dakota have not been identified.


AlabamaAlaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | District of ColumbiaFlorida | Georgia | Hawaii | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North CarolinaOhio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

Arizona Mobile Home | Connecticut Mobile Home | Illinois Mobile Home | Iowa Mobile Home | Nebraska Mobile Home | Texas Mobile Home | Washington Mobile Home


NCSL thanks its partner on this project the National Center for Healthy Housing, and HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and the CDC’s Office of Healthy Housing for funding and support.


[1] (Centers for Disease Control 2015) (EPA Lead Page Protect Your Family. http://www2.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family#sl-home.)

[2]  Weaver, J.C., “A White Paper on White
Lead,” ASTM Standardization News (April 1989):
34-38.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young
Children (Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 1991), p. 7.

[4] (Farquhar 1994)

[5] (Environmental Protection Agency 2015)