Build a nation of safe, healthy communities

(Download this fact sheet as a PDF in English, Spanish or French)

blue houseWhy should I care?

The home and neighborhood you live in can impact your health and your opportunity to engage in healthy behaviors. We want people across the U.S. to live in communities where they can be safe and active throughout the day. 

There are many barriers to health in our homes and neighborhoods that we need to overcome:

In Our Homes1

  • Thirty-five million homes in America have at least one health or safety hazard.
  • Over 24 million homes have lead-based paint hazards, which put children at risk of lead poisoning.
  • The presence of radon in homes causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually and is the top cause of lunch cancer among nonsmokers.
  • About 40 percent of asthma attacks are connected to preventable triggers, such as mold and rodents, inside people's homes. Children are particularly vulnerable: Every year, asthma among children leads to 2 million emergency room visits, 14 million missed school days and $56 billion in costs.2 

In Our Neighborhoods

  • During the first half of 2015, about 2,368 pedestrians were killed in traffic collisions — a 10 percent increase over the same time period in 2014.3 . Adults and children living in low-income communities and communities of color, where sidewalks and streets are more likely to be poorly maintained, face a much higher likelihood of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths.4
  • More than half of Americans live in communities with unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution, raising their risk of premature death, respiratory complications and heart damage.5
  • More than 29 million people in the U.S. live in low-income areas more than a mile from the nearest supermarket, making it difficult to access healthy and affordable food.6
  • Every day in the U.S., 90 people die and 216 are injured due to gun violence. Seven American children and teens die every day due to gun-related violence and suicide.7

Yes, the statistics about the health of our communities can feel grim. But remember — there are ways to design new neighborhoods and improve existing ones so they help keep us safe and healthy. And commonsense gun safety policies can save lives and prevent debilitating injuries.

What can I do?

Reducing exposure to radon can impact the number of lung cancer deaths. Contact a certified inspector to have your home tested for radon. 

Gun violence takes about as many lives each year as automobile crashes in the U.S.8 Tell your members of Congress you demand they vote for commonsense safety measures to prevent gun violence.

Designing roads that are friendly to cyclists and pedestrians will make our communities both safer and healthier, but it is just a start. Visit APHA's Healthy Community Design page for resources that can help you influence the health of your community. Ask your local officials to build streets that are safe for all users. 

You can also use the power of the purse to make a difference in your community. Support farmers markets and local businesses that value health like stores that sell affordable healthy food and choose not to sell tobacco.

APHA: National Healthy Housing Standard
Center for American Progress: Creating Safe and Healthy Living Environments for Low-Income Families
Governors' Highway Safety Association
SRTS At the Intersection of Active Transportation and Equity
American Lung Association: 2016 State of the Air
USDA, Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (2007 (deaths) and 2008 (injuries))  Calculations by Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2009

American Public Health Association