Housing and health

Housing conditions affect people’s health. Inadequate housing causes or contributes to many preventable diseases and injuries, including respiratory, nervous system and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

  • Poor design or construction of homes is the cause of most home accidents. In some European countries, they kill more people than do road accidents.
  • Use of proper building materials and construction could prevent indoor pollutants or mould, causing 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.

Towards safe and adequate housing, WHO/Europe seeks to assess and quantify the effect on health of housing conditions and how housing risks contribute to environmental and health inequalities.

With international experts, WHO/Europe evaluates the health gains from implementation of local plans for housing rehabilitation, and sets health priorities related to various technical aspects of housing. Priority issues include thermal comfort and energy, indoor environmental conditions, home safety, and residential housing environments.