Healthy Homes Barometer 2019
Growing up in (un)healthy buildings
Since our first Barometer in 2015, our ambition has been to work with accredited research partners to examine how the European building stock can be improved to the benefit of people, society and the planet.
This fifth edition of the Barometer takes these findings a step further and turns its attention to some of the most vulnerable members of our society – our children. An alarming 26 million – or 1 out of 3 - children in Europe live in unhealthy homes, with deficiencies like dampness or mould, darkness, excess noise and cold. If exposed to all four factors, children are four times more likely to suffer from poor health and their learning is negatively impacted.
- 1 out of 3 European children, or 26 million, live in unhealthy buildings
- Children living with four risk factors (dampness or mould, darkness, noise and cold) are 4.2 times more likely to report poor health
- European children could miss up to two million days in school each year because of health problems related to buildings with deficiencies
- Improved air quality can boost student performance (task solving) by up to 15%
Children are not only experiencing health issues due to poor indoor climates; they are also losing out on their education. The conditions that are linked to living in unhealthy homes are responsible for up to two million missed school days. On average, this means about 2.5 missed school days per sick child per year because of illnesses associated with an unhealthy indoor climate.
Healthier homes and schools for healthier economies
Improving ventilation in schools and reducing exposure to dampness or mould in Europe’s homes will not only benefit children’s health, it could also boost the European economy cumulatively by more than EUR 300 billion by 2060. On top of that, there can be additional economic advantages to reducing noise exposure, increasing daylight access and improving indoor temperature. In short, there is potential for a substantial boost to the European economy by solving the building deficiencies that harm our children’s health.
Suburban and low-income disadvantages
It is not only children living in urban homes who are at most risk. Suburban areas are also affected, with single family homes especially vulnerable to health effects associated with having a poor indoor climate. This is particularly concerning as suburban growth in Europe has significantly outpaced urban growth, with urbanisation up 30% and suburban growth up 47% from 1961-2011. Furthermore, children from low-income families are more likely to suffer health risks, with those in the lower 20% on the household income scale being nearly 25% more likely to live in homes with deficiencies.