Living in damp homes increases risk of asthma by 40%

Living in a damp or mouldy building increases the risk of respiratory diseases. But what does that really mean? A new study reveals how many Europeans have asthma as a direct result of living in damp homes.

Although some attention has been paid to the renovation of Europe’s building stock in recent years, the German research institute, Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, now reveals that the number of Europeans living in damp and mouldy dwellings has remained almost unchanged since 2009, leaving about 16% of the European population living in unhealthy homes.

In total, 84 million Europeans live in damp or mouldy dwellings, and this increases their risk of developing respiratory diseases and life-long allergies.

Today, 2.2 million Europeans have asthma as a direct result of living in damp or mouldy buildings, according to the study by Fraunhofer IBP.

Dampness is one of the main defects in buildings across Europe, primarily caused by inadequate building structures and residents’ lack of attention to sufficient ventilation,”

says Prof. Dr. Gunnar Grün, head of department for energy efficiency and indoor climate at Fraunhofer IBP.

The study also concludes that:

  • The prevalence of asthma (according to clinical asthma definitions) among European adults could be as high as 5.3%.
  • In some European countries, 30% of the population lives in damp homes.

How to improve

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD cost European governments 82 billion Euros each year through, for example, medical treatment and loss of productivity.

Fraunhofer IBP’s research estimates that the number of Europeans living in damp and unhealthy dwellings could be reduced by 50% by 2050, which could in turn reduce the number of people with associated respiratory diseases by 25%. In the case of asthma, this could lead to a reduction of 550,000 sufferers across Europe.

We are convinced that the levels of respiratory illnesses caused by damp buildings can be reduced, and it is now clearer than ever that the legal framework for buildings needs to support healthy indoor climate in both new and existing buildings. This way, human lives could be improved, and it makes economic sense too,”

says Ulrich Bang, Director of Public Affairs and Sustainability at the VELUX Group.

Modern renovation is all about creating the best possible prerequisites for a healthy indoor environment. With our RenovActive House in Brussels, which to a very large extent provides and sustains a healthy indoor climate by itself, we have succeeded in doing just that,”

says Peter Foldbjerg, Senior Manager for Daylight, Energy and Indoor Climate DEIC in the VELUX Group.

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