Data and statistics

Inadequate housing conditions cause or contribute to many preventable diseases and injuries, including respiratory, nervous system and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

WHO estimates for 11 housing hazards, related for example to noise, damp, indoor air quality, cold and home safety, show that in the WHO European Region inadequate housing accounts for over 100 000 deaths per year.

Preventing risks

  • Poor design or construction of homes is the cause of most home accidents. In some European countries, home accidents kill more people than do road accidents.
  • Use of proper building materials and adequate ventilation could prevent indoor pollution or mould that can lead to asthma, allergies or respiratory diseases.
  • About every tenth lung cancer case results from radon in the home. Appropriate design can prevent both exposure and the risk to health.
  • Ensuring green and recreational areas in residential and urban settings provides opportunities for physical activity and counteracts the rising epidemic of obesity.
  • Urban pollution such as noise and emissions from transport lead to a range of diseases and significantly affect life expectancy and quality of life.
  • In most countries of the WHO European Region there are strong environmental inequalities, with higher and more frequent harmful exposure affecting especially vulnerable population groups (such as migrants or persons with low socioeconomic status).