Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stay Healthy in the Warm Zone; in Association with Environment Agency

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stay Healthy in the Warm Zone; in Association with Environment Agency

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Stephens

THE health impact of cold, damp homes, and the importance of promoting affordable warmth to address socio-economic inequalities in health and promote social inclusion are now recognised on the national policy agenda.

Energy inefficient, hard to heat housing impacts on health in three main ways:

Housing conditions, such as cold and dampness, have a negative health impact

The additional expense incurred by low income households trying to heat poor housing reduces household resources available to protect or promote health in other ways and causes financial hardship, which in turn impacts negatively on health

Energy inefficiency impacts on the economy and the environment as a whole, with long-term health impact on the population There is now robust national and international evidence for the negative impact on health of poor housing, and in particular cold and damp housing. There is also overwhelming evidence of the negative health impact of poverty and low income.

Living in cold and damp homes exacerbates illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, eczema and can exacerbate mental health problems.

Cold and damp homes foster pathogens such as moulds and dust mites, which impact on health.

A young person who suffers from asthma because of their home conditions is likely to miss more days at school, whilst the same conditions means older people having more days off work.

Living in poor quality housing can cause emotional distress and increase susceptibility to physical illness and mental health problems.

People on low incomes are more likely to live in poor quality housing that costs more to heat. This reduces their resources available to protect their health in other ways, such as eating healthier food.

Addressing home energy inefficiency can alleviate cold-related illnesses, reduce associated hospital admissions and avoid some people being kept in hospital longer than otherwise necessary. All this means significant savings for the health service, which means they then have more income to tackle other serious medical issues.

Older people, children, disabled people and those with long-term illnesses are all more vulnerable to the effects of cold and damp, but they are also more likely to be spending most of their time at home. …

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