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The health impacts of poor housing conditions and thermal discomfort


On summer and winter months, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality rates vary throughout Europe. For example, areas with mild winters seem to be the ones with higher number of seasonal mortality. In fact, Portugal is one of the southern countries together with Ireland that have higher mortality in winter. However, the number of studies relating cold weather with morbidity/mortality is still very rare. These occurrences are suspected to be associated with housing quality especially thermal insulation. In order to assess the relation between the incidence of coronary events and housing conditions in Portugal, a survey on inpatients with any form of acute coronary syndromes was undertaken during winter months, in order to get some data about houseability and residents behavior attitudes against cold exposure. It remained clear that poor housing conditions and/or lack of protective measures against cold exposure are common in Portugal. A better knowledge about the impact of weather and climate on health may be applied to built up a set of regulations for housing design (for new but also for old dwellings restoration); but also it is essential for the establishment of adaptation and mitigation policies and strategies, as well as on health planning and on the development of early warning systems.