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Evidence for action on cold, damp and mould in Australian homes

NHMRC Ideas Grant funded from 2021-2024. 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 much 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.


Prof Rebecca Bentley (The University of Melbourne)
Prof Emma Baker (The University of Adelaide)
Dr Lyrian Daniel (The University of Adelaide)
Prof Shyamali Dharmage (The University of Melbourne)
Prof Tony Blakely (The University of Melbourne)
Dr Lucy Telfar Barnard (University of Otago)

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