Prevalence and predictors of residential health hazards: A pilot study

Susan Klitzman, Jack Caravanos, Deborah Deitcher, Laura Rothenberg, Candice Belanoff, Rachel Kramer, Louise Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article reports the results of a pilot study designed to ascertain the prevalence of lead-based paint (LBP), vermin, mold, and safety conditions and hazards and to validate observations and self-reports against environmental sampling data. Data are based on a convenience sample of 70 dwellings in a low-income, urban neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. The vast majority of residences (96%) contained multiple conditions and/or hazards: LBP hazards (80%), vermin (79%), elevated levels of airborne mold (39%), and safety hazards (100%). Observations and occupant reports were associated with environmental sampling data. In general, the more proximate an observed condition was to an actual hazard, the more likely it was to be associated with environmental sampling results (e.g., peeling LBP was associated with windowsill dust lead levels, and cockroach sightings by tenants were associated with Blatella germanica [Bla g 1] levels). Conversely, the more distal an observed condition was to an actual hazard, the less likely it was to be associated with environmental sampling results (e.g., water damage, alone, was not statistically associated with elevated levels of dust lead, Bla g 1, or airborne mold). Based on the findings from this pilot study, there is a need for industrial hygienists and others to adopt more comprehensive and integrative approaches to residential hazard assessment and remediation. Further research-using larger, randomly drawn samples, representing a range of housing types and geographical areas-is needed to clarify the relationship between readily observable conditions, occupant reports, and environmental sampling data and to assess the cumulative impact on human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-301
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005



  • Healthy homes
  • Residential hazards
  • Visual assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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