In Case of Emergency

Although pests like mice and cockroaches do not pose an immediate health threat, they can result in adverse health effects for people with asthma and breathing problems. Contact the Healthy Homes Coalition for more information on Integrated Pest Management.  


Mice & Rats

Mice and rats are not only a nuisance - they can make children sick. They can increase the symptoms of asthma and allergies. Toxic chemicals used to poison them can also poison children.


The Source

Mice and rats often seek shelter in homes when it is less desirable to be outside. The onset of winter causes rats and mice to seek shelter where it's warmer. If there is abundant unsecured food  or trash in the home, the mice will also seek it out. It doesn't take much of an opening for a mouse to get in a house. A crack under a door, an open vent, or cracks in the foundation are all it takes.  A mouse can squeeze through a hole smaller than a dime. Rats can squeeze through holes that are the size of a quarter.


Who is at Risk?

Children are put at risk when poison baits are used to try to rid the home of pests. Mice and rats also carry a host of diseases. For people with asthma and allergies, mice and rats are problematic as their dander and feces are highly allergenic.



Signs of mice or rats living in the home include mouse droppings, holes in food packaging, gnawing, nests, or seeing the mice or rats themselves. Some people will exhibit allergic reactions to the presence of mice and rats, especially if the infestation is heavy.


Health Impacts

Rodents and their droppings can spread diseases and viruses, including hantavirus, salmonellosis and rat-bite fever. They also trigger asthma and allergies.



Mice need food, water and shelter to survive. By removing these three things the environment will be less hospitable to them. Follow these steps to make your home mouse-proof.

  • Keep all living areas uncluttered and clean.
  • Eat in one area of the home to contain crumbs and food and to make clean up easier.
  • Put all food, food scraps and pet food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Keep trash in a sealed container.
  • Mop and clean surfaces at least once a week.
  • Fix all plumbing and water leaks.
  • Seal all holes and gaps in walls, pipes, pavement, and other surfaces with caulk, steel wool, scouring pads, or spray foam to keep mice out.

In addition to changing the environment in the home, use traps to kill them. Spring-loaded mousetraps should be baited with peanut butter and placed in areas where is there is obvious mouse traffic. Traps should be checked daily. Dead mice should be immediately removed, and traps should be re-baited after catching a mouse. This practice should continue until no mice have been caught for at least a week.


Click here for IPM Services for Families

Click here for IPM Services for Landlords


Mouse population graphic credit: National Center for Healthy Housing


Did You Know...

A mouse can fit through a hole the size of a dime.


How to Control Pests Safely(1.3 MB)

A simple guide from the New York City Health Department.

Integrated Pest Management Products(1.3 MB)

A list of safer pest management supplies and where to get them.  Pricing subject to change.

Lifting Parent Voices, The COFI Way

Every second Monday of the month at 5pm, the conference room at the Healthy Homes Coalition fills up with parents. They file in, greet each other warmly and find their usual seats.

Over a quick dinner, weekly stories are swapped and pictures are shared as parents catch up. Parents for Healthy Homes meetings are part support group, part advocacy work, part leadership training class, and all parent connection.

The leadership training component is a result of our relationship with Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), a nonprofit organization based out of Chicago which connects parents to one another, helping turn their voices in actionable change.  COFI was created in 1995, with former community organizer Barack Obama as a founding member.


Why Parent Voices Matter More

Two stories featuring parents who are fighting to end childhood lead poisoned were told in local news this past week.

These two stories represent the voices of parents whose children are directly affected by the threat of lead poisoning in the community. They are just two of thousands more in the city.

Asthma: The Overlooked Housing Hazard

While efforts to fix lead paint hazards in Grand Rapids are currently in process and in the news, it’s important to remember that asthma is another major health concern for children in the city.

(Photo Credit: