Are our homes making our children sick?

Today, more than 26 million European children are living in unhealthy homes putting them at higher risk of experiencing health problems. How do we address the challenges facing The Indoor Generation?

Illustration of 1 out of 6 adults live in unhealthy homes

It is no secret that a healthy home and a healthy childhood go hand-in-hand. Good air quality, sufficient access to daylight and adequate ventilation are important for creating a healthy indoor environment in any home, with the effects reaching far beyond childhood.

In previous Healthy Homes Barometers, we learned that 1 out of 6, or around 80 million, European adults live in unhealthy homes, which is in itself a surprisingly high number.

This year’s barometer finds that the situation for the youngest members of society is even more severe. Today, 1 out of 3 European children – equal to over 26 million or more than the entire population of Scandinavia – live in unhealthy homes.
Quote "Our results show that one out of three European children, equal to over 26 million - or more than the entire population of Scandinavia, live in unhealthy homes"
Illustration of 1 out of 3 children live in unhealthy homes
Illustration of children risk of health issues
Furthermore, our results show that mould and dampness, as well as poor ventilation, can take a child from good health to poor health with links to higher levels of asthma, allergies, eczema, and lower and upper respiratory conditions. A growing number of children are burdened with ailments that challenge their ability to be present and fully engaged at school. Across Europe, the prevalence of children affected by asthma has become an increasing problem in the last few decades. Even though the frequency varies across the continent, in some countries more than 20 percent of children suffer from the illness1.

It is not just childhood health that is affected by poor indoor climate. As you will see in the following pages, we found that unhealthy home environments can result in higher absence from school and work, putting a greater strain on both children, parents and the economy.

It is not just an urban problem either. Children who live in suburban single-family homes were found to be especially at risk of living with leaky roofs, mould, and inadequate temperature.

The Healthy Homes Barometer 2018 puts focus on the fact that Europeans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors2. The growing number of people spending the majority of their time indoors is sometimes referred to as “The Indoor Generation”3. Read on to see how a healthy indoor climate can help our children by giving them the best starting point to live long and healthy lives in our increasingly indoor world.

1 WHO, 2007 “Prevalence of asthma and allergies in children”
2 European Commission, 2003 “Indoor air pollution: new EU research reveals higher risks than previously thought”