The Community Environmental Health Resource Center
(CEHRC) was a collaborative enterprise of the Alliance and local advocacy
groups from across the country working to protect children at highest
risk from environmental health hazards in their housing, schools, neighborhoods,
and communities. The goal of CEHRC was to help community-based organizations
build their capacity to empower residents, catalyze corrective action,
and expand economic opportunities by providing access to tools for identifying
and controlling environmental health hazards that cause lead poisoning,
asthma, and other health problems. CEHRC provided training, technical
assistance, and other support to local groups as well as mechanisms for
local groups to share experiences, develop strategy together, and learn
from and support each other.
Below are a variety of tools CEHRC developed to help communities
test for household hazards
and to organize
and advocate for better conditions.
Research has shown that substandard housing can pose
significant health hazards to residents, including exposure to lead, carbon
monoxide, mold, pesticide residues, cockroaches, radon, and allergens
that can trigger asthma attacks. These health hazards in housing are often
far worse than outdoor exposures.
Scientists first developed tools for assessing health
hazards in housing and tested these tools in complicated research projects.
Professional experts have used them to assess environmental health hazards
in housing, usually at a cost of hundreds of dollars for comprehensive
But most homes have never been checked for health
hazards at all, especially substandard housing in low-income communities
that are at highest risk. Usually, these hazards are ignored until someone
In recent years, the tools for detecting most health
hazards in housing have gotten simpler, easier to use, and more affordable.
In some cases, a careful visual inspection can spot obvious signs of health
hazards. In other cases, environmental samples need to be collected and
sent to a lab to be analyzed. CEHRC is now working to bring these tools
within the reach of community-based organizations in neighborhoods at
Training is needed to use CEHRC's hazard assessment
tools and interpret the results properly. Depending on the hazard, the
training may take from 2-3 hours to one day. In some cases, those testing
homes may need to get state-certified.
CEHRC's tools and step-by-step instructions are intended
to provide a low-cost means for checking high-risk housing for health
hazards. Instructions must be followed with care in collecting samples
and interpreting the results to draw valid conclusions. While CEHRC's
low-cost tools are usually effective in identifying serious health hazards,
more comprehensive assessment tools produce more detailed, reliable, and
precise results - as one would fully expect.
CEHRC presents information about each category of
hazard in different materials, as follows:
- Background Materials explain the significance
of the health hazard, different methods for assessing the hazard, the
existence of national standards, what the results mean, and where to
go for additional information.
- The Decision Guide assists community-based organizations
planning a project determine in what situations it makes sense to check
for this hazard, what tools and training are required, typical hazard
assessment costs, and factors for selecting units to be assessed.
- Sampling Instructions provide step-by-step instructions
on how to assess the hazard, including the number and location of samples
to be collected, and any precautions that need to be followed during
the sampling. Sampling Instructions are a useful resource for training
- Sampling Checklists provide a condensed version
of the Sampling Instructions that are appropriate for field use to remind
Hazard Investigators about key steps in the assessment process.
- CEHRC Reports are the forms on which the results
of Home Hazard Investigations are consolidated and summarized so that
they can be easily explained to the resident.