An NHMRC Ideas Grant awarded December 2020 will allow Healthy Housing CRE researchers to further focus on building evidence for action on cold, damp and mould in Australian homes
The combination of this new funding and a passion for warm and dry homes has led the CRE leadership team to declare 2021 the "Year of Cold and Mould".
Evidence for action on cold, damp and mould in Australian homes
It is an unstated truth that the stock-standard housing that the majority of Australians occupy is not designed to withstand extremes of temperature. The normalisation of the poor quality of our housing means that problems such as unhealthy indoor temperatures, mould and damp in homes during wintertime are, to-date, under recognised.
However, as many as one quarter of Australia households are estimated to have damp and mould in their homes, and emerging research confirms that there is likely also a high prevalence of cold housing across the temperate climates. Such addressable housing related problems make an unquantified but potentially sizeable contribution to the burden of poor health in Australia in terms of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
People with underlying health conditions, elderly people and socio-economically disadvantaged people, are the hardest ‘hit’ by inadequate housing conditions. Yet we do not know if the burden of health arising from this set of circumstances is high enough to warrant a wide-scale intervention. It seems likely however, and if so, housing remediation could make savings to the health budget and substantially improve the quality of life of many Australians.
We will identify gaps in evidence on the causal relationships between cold, damp and mould, and respiratory and cardiovascular conditions in Australia. We will use this information to parameterise simulation models (drawing of Global Burden of Disease methods) to estimate the health burden. We will use these models to estimate the effect of known interventions to reduce cold, damp and mould.
We have assembled an interdisciplinary team of researchers from epidemiology, housing geography, architectural science, respiratory epidemiology and simulation modelling.
Professor Rebecca Bentley (University of Melbourne, Director Healthy Housing CRE)
Professor Emma Baker (University of Adelaide, Deputy Director Healthy Housing CRE)
Dr Lyrian Daniel (University of Adelaide, Associate Investigator Healthy Housing CRE)
Professor Shyamali Dharmage (University of Melbourne)
Professor Tony Blakely (University of Melbourne, Chief Investigator Healthy Housing CRE)
Dr Lucy Telfar Barnard (University of Otago)