An assessment of the prevalence of dampness and mold in European housing stock was carried out. It is based on general indicators of dampness and mold in dwellings reported in the literature. The assessment relies on recent studies, taking into account regional and climatic differences, as well as differences in study design, methodology, and definitions. Data were available from 31 European countries. Weighted prevalence estimates are 12.1% for damp, 10.3% for mold, 10.0% for water damage, and 16.5% for a combination of any one or more indicators. Significant (up to 18%) differences were observed for dampness and mold prevalence estimates depending on survey factors, region, and climate. In conclusion, dampness and/or mold problems could be expected to occur in one of every six of the dwellings in Europe. Prevalence and occurrence of different types of problems may vary across geographical areas, which can be partly explained by differences in climate.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $19.83 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
IOM (Institute of Medicine). Damp Indoor Spaces and Health. The National Academies Press, Washington D.C., 2004.
WHO. Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould. WHO Regional Office for Europe: Copenhagen, 2009.
Jaakkola M., Haverinen-Shaughnessy U., Douwes J., and Nevalainen A. Indoor dampness and mould problems in homes and asthma onset in children. WHO Housing Programme. Draft Final Report. 2011.
Fisk W.J., Lei-Gomez Q., and Mendell M.J. Meta-analyses of the associations of respiratory health effects with dampness and mold in homes. Indoor Air 2007: 17: 284–296.
Mudarri D., and Fisk W.J. Public health and economic impact of dampness and mold. Indoor Air 2007: 17: 226–235.
Bornehag C.G., Blomquist G., Gyntelberg F., Järvholm B., Malmberg P., Nordvall L., Nielsen A., Pershagen G., and Sundell J. Dampness in buildings and health. Nordic interdisciplinary review of the scientific evidence on associations between exposure to “dampness” in buildings and health effects (NORDDAMP). Indoor Air 2001: 11: 72–86.
Bornehag C.G., Sundell J., Bonini S., Custovic A., Malmberg P., Skerfving S., Sigsgaard T., and Verhoeff A. Dampness in buildings as a risk factor for health effects, EUROEXPO: a multidisciplinary review of literature (1998–2000) on dampness and mite exposure in buildings and health effects. Indoor Air 2004: 14: 243–257.
WHO. Large Analysis and Review of European Housing and Health Status. Preliminary Overview. WHO Regional Office for Europe: Copenhagen, 2007.
Burney P.G., Luczynska C., Chinn S., and Jarvis D. The European community respiratory health survey. Eur Respir J 1994: 7: 954–960.
Nicol S. The relationship between housing conditions and health-some findings from the WHO LARES survey of 8 European cities. In: ENHR conference “Housing in an expanding Europe: theory, policy, participation and implementation”, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2–5 July 2006.
Zock J.-P., Jarvis D., Luczynska C., Sunyer J., and Burney P. Housing characteristics, reported mold exposure, and asthma in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2002: 110: 285–292.
Antova T., Pattenden S., Brunekreef B., Heinrich J., Rudnai P., Forastiere F., Luttman-Gibson H., Grize L., Katsnelson B., Moshammer H., Nikiforov B., Slachtova H., Slotova H., Zlotkowska R., and Fletcher T. Exposure to indoor mould and children's respiratory health in the PATY study. J Epidemiol Commun Health 2008: 62: 708–714.
Bornehag C.G., Sundell J., Hagerhed-Engman L., Sigsggard T., Janson S., and Aberg N. “Dampness” at home and its association with airway, nose, and skin symptoms among 10,851 preschool children in Sweden: a cross-sectional study. Indoor Air 2005: 15 (Suppl 10): 48–55.
Neely J.G., Magit A.E., Rich J.T., Voelker C.J., Wang E.W., Paniello R.C., Nussenbaum B., and Bradley J.P. A practical guide to understanding systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surgery 2010: 142: 6–14.
Lelkes O., and Zolyomi E. Housing Quality Deficiencies and the Link to Income in the EU. European Centre Policy Brief Series March 2010.
Brasche S., Heinz E., Hartmann T., Richter W., and Bischof W. [Prevalence, causes, and health aspects of dampness and mold in homes. Results of a population-based study in Germany]. Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 2003: 46: 683–693.
Chelelgo J., Haverinen U., Vahteristo M., Koivisto J., Jaaskelainen E., Husman T., and Nevaleinen A. Analysis of moisture findings in the interior spaces of Finnish housing stock. Air Waste Manag Assoc 2001: 51: 69–77.
Tamay Z., Akcay A., Ones U., Guler N., Kilic G., and Zencir M. Prevalence and risk factors for allergic rhinitis in primary school children. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 2007: 71: 463–471. Epub 12 December 2006.
Turunen M., Paanala A., Villman J., Nevalainen A., and Haverinen-Shaughnessy U. Evaluating housing quality, health and safety using an internet-based data collection and response system: a cross-sectional study. Environ Health 2010: 9: 69.
Simoni M., Lombardi E., Berti G., Rusconi F., La Grutta S., Piffer S., Petronio M.G., Galassi C., Forastiere F., and Viegi G. Mould/dampness exposure at home is associated with respiratory disorders in Italian children and adolescents: the SIDRIA-2 Study. Occup Environ Med 2005: 62: 616–622.
Skorge T.D., Eagan T.M., Eide G.E., Gulsvik G., and Bakke P.S. Indoor exposures and respiratory symptoms in a Norweigian community sample. Thorax 2005: 60: 937–942.
du Prel X., Krämer U., and Ranft U. Changes in social inequality with respect to health-related living conditions of 6-year-old children in East Germany after re-unification. BMC Public Health 2005: 5: 64.
Wickman M., Melén E., Berglind N., Nordvall S.L., Almqvist C., Kull I., Svartengren M., and Pershagen G. Strategies for preventing wheezing and asthma in small children. Allergy 2003: 58: 742–747.
Braubach M., and Savelsberg J. Social Inequities and their Influence on Housing Risk Factors and Health. A data report based on the WHO LARES database. WHO Regional Office for Europe: Copenhagen 2009.
Braubach M., and Fairburn J. Social inequities in environmental risks associated with housing and residential location — a review of evidence. Eur J Public Health 2010: 20: 36–42.
Haverinen-Shaughnessy U., Hyvärinen A., Pekkanen J., Nevalainen A., Husman T., Korppi M., Halla-aho J., Koivisto J., and Moschandreas D. Occurrence and characteristics of moisture damage in residential buildings as a function of occupant and engineer observations. Indoor and Built environment 2005: 14: 133–140.
Naydenov K., Melikov A., Markov D., Stankov P., Bornehag C.-G., and Sundell J. A comparison between occupants’ and inspectors’ reports on home dampness and their association with the health of children: The ALLHOME study. Build Environ 2008: 43: 1840–1849.
Pekkanen J., Hyvärinen A., Haverinen-Shaughnessy U., Korppi M., Putus T., and Nevalainen A. Moisture damage and childhood asthma: a population-based incident case-control study. Eur Respir J 2007: 29: 509–515.
Williamson I.J., Martin C.J., McGill G., Monie R.D., and Fennerty A.G. Damp housing and asthma: a case-control study. Thorax 1997: 52: 229–234.
The assessment reported herein was performed as a part of the INTARESE project, co-funded by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme (project number 018385). It includes some work performed for the WHO project on quantifying disease from inadequate housing in Europe. I thank Ms. Hanna Richie Keller for performing the language check.
The author declares no conflict of interest.
About this article
Cite this article
Haverinen-Shaughnessy, U. Prevalence of dampness and mold in European housing stock. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 22, 461–467 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2012.21
- water damage
- survey factors
This article is cited by
Current Allergy and Asthma Reports (2015)