, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 397-411
Date: 10 Oct 2006

Housing and neighborhood conditions and exposure to cockroaches in three central and eastern European cities

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Structural disrepair and inadequate maintenance of public spaces in multi-family housing have been shown to be associated with cockroach infestations, which in turn have negative consequences for population health and quality of life. In this study, we take advantage of a recent housing and health survey designed and implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe. We focus on three cities: Vilnius, Lithuania; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Budapest, Hungary. For each, we investigate whether housing conditions known to be associated with increased exposure to cockroaches—such as poorly maintained open spaces, kitchen windows that don’t close tightly, waste chutes located in the stairwell, leaky roofs, litter in the housing environment, and problems with the water drainage system are more prevalent in panel block buildings than in other types of multi-family housing. Based on logistic regression analyses, we then investigate whether these housing conditions are associated with higher odds of exposure to cockroaches among residents, and whether cockroach exposure varies by tenure type or responsibility for maintenance. We find that, compared to small multi-family buildings, larger proportions of units in both panel block and large multi-family buildings had conditions that have been associated in other studies with increased exposure to cockroaches. Of these, only kitchen windows that don’t close tightly and housing type were significantly associated with increased exposure to cockroaches in this population. In addition, public-sector responsibility for cleaning was highly associated with cockroach exposure. Housing tenure did not consistently influence the findings.