People living in poverty make up nearly half of the global population and a large proportion of these individuals inhabit cities, living in informal settlements. However, only limited research on in-home environmental exposures and the associated health effects in these communities is available. This research investigates the home environment in unplanned settlements of a rapidly growing city on the U.S.-México border and its impact on the health of households with children under 12 years of age. A cross-sectional design was used to assess household exposures and health outcomes at the household level. A total of 202 households were selected from two informal settlements in the peri-urban region of Ciudad Juárez, México. The following variables were significantly associated with the report of at least one household member experiencing a health outcome in a two week period. Allergies were positively associated with insecticide use inside the home (adjusted Relative Odds (RO), 2.71; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2-6.3). Respiratory problems were associated with households using a wood burning stove vs. a gas stove (adjusted RO, 5.64; 95% CI, 1.1-27.9). Diarrhea was negatively associated with presence of a flush toilet in the home (adjusted RO, 0.22; 95% CI,0.1-0.6). Finally, eye irritations were positively associated with indoor tobacco smoke (adjusted RO, 2.23; 95% CI, 1.1-4.5). This research highlights exposures associated with poor living conditions in informal settlements and their associations with detrimental effects on health. More efforts should be made to understand the dynamics of poor urban environments including the health effects of exposures linked with poor housing conditions.
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