Research says cost of damp in homes is more than just health

German institute Fraunhofer IBP has found that 84 million Europeans live in homes that are too damp, causing respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

The Towards an identification of European indoor environments’ impact on health and performance report reveals the socio-economic costs of asthma and COPD, which are proven effects also of living in damp and unhealthy buildings.

It found that European Governments’ expenditures amounts to €82bn each year, covering European direct expenses on medical treatment and additional care for patients in- and outside of hospitals, as well as indirect costs due to loss of productivity.

The study also revealed that close to 84 million Europeans live in damp or mouldy dwellings, which increases their risk of having respiratory diseases and life-long allergies by 40% despite recent awareness of the correlation between indoor environment and human health.

Prof. Dr. Gunnar Grün, head of department for energy efficiency and indoor climate at Fraunhofer IBP, commented: “It is a big concern to see that very many people spend their everyday lives in damp and unhealthy homes. What is more, the new research reveals for the first time that 2.2 million citizens have asthma directly because they live in unhealthy buildings.”

Fraunhofer’s research, based on a cross-sectional study, questionnaires and in-depth case studies across 32 European countries, estimates that the number of Europeans living in damp and unhealthy dwellings could be reduced by 50% by 2050, which could 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 people.