, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 7-25

Housing and health—Current issues and implications for research and programs

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Abstract

This article provides an overview of the ways in which the home environment can affect human health, describes how specific health hazards in housing are related, and considers implications of these concerns for research and programs to address the health-housing connection. The widespread availability of decent housing has contributed greatly to improvements in health status in developed countries through, for example, provision of safe drinking water, proper sewage disposal, and protection from the elements. However, a lack of decent housing and homelessness among a significant number of Americans remains a significant public health concern. In addition, a number of specific health hazards can be found even in housing that is in good condition and provides all basic amenities. Specific health hazards related to housing include unintentional injuries, exposure to lead, exposure to allergens that may cause or worsen asthma, moisture and fungi (mold), rodent and insect pests, pesticide residues, and indoor air pollution. A number of these specific hazards share underlying causes, such as excess moisture, and all may be influenced by factors in the community environment or by occupant behaviors. We make recommendations for developing programs and research efforts that address multiple housing problems in an integrated way, rather than categorically, and for closer collaboration between housing and public health programs.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policies of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.