Spotlight on:
The Burden of Disease caused by Damp and Mould in English Housing

The burden of disease caused by damp and mould in English housing

In England, there are around 2 million people currently living in homes with significant damp and/or mould (3-4% of residences). While living in a damp and/or mouldy home is associated with the development or exacerbation of several respiratory diseases, conditions and symptoms, little is known about the burden of disease at a national scale in England.

Research led by scientists from the Air Quality and Public Health team, Environmental Hazards and Emergency Department and the Toxicology Department assessed the burden of asthma, lower respiratory infections, and allergic rhinitis from exposure to damp and/or mould in England in 2019 and by looking back several years in time. For this purpose, epidemiological evidence was combined with health and exposure data from nation-wide annual surveys and modelled estimates. They found that there was a considerable burden of respiratory illness/conditions in England from residential exposures to damp and mould (2,800) Disability Adjusted Life Years lost in 2019, which was lower than 10 years prior, but may still be an under-estimate. They also found that ethnic and minority and disadvantaged groups were disproportionately impacted by damp and mould reflecting a persistent environmental health inequity.

The team contributed to the development of new consolidated guidance on damp and mould, which was a joint effort by the Department for Health and Social Care, UK Health Security Agency, and Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, following the inquest into the tragic death of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak from prolonged exposure to mould. The burden of disease evidence fed into this guidance.

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