New Zealand Homes Compared to Refugee Camp Huts

Following on from Sunday’s article about poor standards in New Zealand’s homes, I came across this article in Scoop and thought it may be worthwhile mentioning it here because it helps to demonstrate just how serious and widespread this problem is.

According to a health expert 3 out of 4 homes in some regions of New Zealand were so cold, damp and mouldy that they were on a par with refugee camp huts….

Source: The Dominion Post
by Ruth Hill

“At a workshop in Wellington yesterday on the health effects of leaky buildings, Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes of Massey University cited a 2005 study, which found mould in 75 per cent of the 1310 households surveyed.

“This is comparable to a study of Palestinian refugee camps, where the rate was 78 per cent.”

Nationally, about 35 per cent of New Zealand households report mould in one or more rooms, compared with 18 per cent in Europe.

A survey by Otago University public health researchers of 33 peer-reviewed studies found exposure to damp and mould raised the risk for respiratory problems -wheezing, coughing and asthma – by 30 per cent to 50 per cent.

Conservative estimates put the direct health costs of leaky buildings in New Zealand at $61 million a year.

Public awareness of respiratory problems associated with damp houses remained low, he said.

“This issue affects potentially tens of millions of people worldwide, and there is a big case for more interventions and research.”

University of Otago public health researcher Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, who chaired the workshop, said New Zealand’s high asthma rate could well be related to the incidence of damp houses.

Up to one in five New Zealanders suffer the chronic and sometimes life-threatening respiratory condition. Wellington’s Asthma Research Group has found that asthmatics allergic to mould had much more severe symptoms, and were almost twice as likely to end up in intensive care….”