Cold homes affect health even in sunny Queensland

HOUSING quality is an important public health issue, with deaths from winter cold occurring even in subtropical regions of Australia, experts warn.

Professor Tony McMichael, a leading researcher on environment and health from the Australian National University (ANU), said addressing building standards and insulation could have spin-offs in reducing greenhouse emissions and reducing the burden of disease.

Professor McMichael and senior fellow Dr Keith Dear (PhD), both from the ANU’s National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, wrote in an editorial in the British Medical Journal that living in cold homes could affect health at any age.

Commenting on a UK report commissioned by Friends of the Earth, they said living in cold homes led to excess deaths in elderly people from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, respiratory problems were doubled in children, arthritis and rheumatism increased, and, among adolescents, the risk of