Healthy Home Indicators and Health Effects

This is a short summary of some research I did recently on how observable characteristics in a home are indicative of a healthy home and also indicative of the presence of adverse health.

The healthiness of the indoor environments of homes can indirectly be assessed with various indicators that can be observed from the living spaces.  Housing problems have been associated with adverse health including asthma and depression [1-4]. A study of 1343 households in England and Scotland found children living in better quality housing generally experienced lower overall mortality rates as adults. Housing characteristics were qualified during a home visit and observations were recorded on crowding, water supply, cleanliness of home, and adequacy of ventilation (2). Note these data were from the 1930s and in the UK, so the housing conditions today in the US are different. The European Community Health Respiratory Survey indoor mold growth in homes had an adverse health effect of adult asthma (5). A US study of over 12,000 children reported home dampness (water damage, mold) was associated with significant increased respiratory symptoms (6). Studies of house dust have focused on the presence of dust mites, bacteria, fungi, and their relationship to housing characteristics and respiratory health (7-9) and also on lead-contaminated house dust (10). Past studies have identified that indoor sources contribute to the elevation of indoor particulate matter concentrations to many times the background indoor levels [11, 12]), a brief discussion of perceived IAQ studies. Outdoor particulate matter also contributes to indoor dust and the PTEAM study concluded that more than half of the indoor particles came from outdoors (13).

  1. Shaw, M. (2004). Housing and public health. Annu. Rev. Public Health, 25, 397-418
  2. Dedman, D. J., Gunnell, D., Smith, G. D., & Frankel, S. (2001). Childhood housing conditions and later mortality in the Boyd Orr cohort. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 55(1), 10-15
  3. Lanphear, B. P., Aligne, C. A., Auinger, P., Weitzman, M., & Byrd, R. S. (2001). Residential exposures associated with asthma in US children. Pediatrics, 107(3), 505-511
  4. Macintyre, S., Ellaway, A., Hiscock, R., Kearns, A., Der, G., & McKay, L. (2003). What features of the home and the area might help to explain observed relationships between housing tenure and health? Evidence from the west of Scotland. Health & place, 9(3), 207-218
  5. Zock, J. P., Jarvis, D., Luczynska, C., Sunyer, J., Burney, P., & European Community Respiratory Health Survey. (2002). Housing characteristics, reported mold exposure, and asthma in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 110(2), 285-292
  6. Spengler, J., Neas, L., Nakai, S., Dockery, D., Speizer, F., Ware, J., & Raizenne, M. (1994). Respiratory symptoms and housing characteristics. Indoor air, 4(2), 72-82
  7. Sordillo, J. E., Alwis, U. K., Hoffman, E., Gold, D. R., & Milton, D. K. (2010). Home characteristics as predictors of bacterial and fungal microbial biomarkers in house dust. Environmental health perspectives, 119(2), 189-195
  8. Chan‐Yeung, M., Becker, A., Lam, J., Dimich‐Ward, H., Ferguson, A., Warren, P., … & Manfreda, J. (1995). House dust mite allergen levels in two cities in Canada: effects of season, humidity, city and home characteristics. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 25(3), 240-246
  9. Cho, S. H., Reponen, T., Bernstein, D. I., Olds, R., Levin, L., Liu, X., … & LeMasters, G. (2006). The effect of home characteristics on dust antigen concentrations and loads in homesScience of the total environment371(1-3), 31-43
  10. Lanphear, B. P., Weitzman, M., Winter, N. L., Eberly, S., Yakir, B., Tanner, M., … & Matte, T. D. (1996). Lead-contaminated house dust and urban children’s blood lead levelsAmerican Journal of Public Health86(10), 1416-1421.
  11. He, C., Morawska, L., Hitchins, J., & Gilbert, D. (2004). Contribution from indoor sources to particle number and mass concentrations in residential houses. Atmospheric environment, 38(21), 3405-3415.
  12. Morawska, L., Ayoko, G. A., Bae, G. N., Buonanno, G., Chao, C. Y. H., Clifford, S., … & Mazaheri, M. (2017). Airborne particles in indoor environment of homes, schools, offices and aged care facilities: The main routes of exposure. Environment international, 108, 75-83.
  13. Jenkins, P. (1996). Personal exposure to airborne particles and metals: results from the Particle TEAM study in Riverside, California. Journal of Exposure Anahsis and Environmental Epidemiolog, 6(1), 57.

One response to “Healthy Home Indicators and Health Effects

  1. It was great to hear you on Colorado Public Radio this morning discussing your research! -Beth Myers

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