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The global burden of disease from unhealthy buildings: preliminary results from comparative risk assessment

Smith K.R., 2003
building | health
Bibliographic info: Healthy Buildings 2003 - Proceedings 7th International Conference (7th-11th December 2003) - National University of Singapore -. Vol. 1. , pp 118-126, 1 Tab., 5 Ref.
Languages: English

In recent years, the World Health Organization has published a database with detailedestimates of the global burden of death and morbidity by disease, age, sex, and region. Justthis year, a WHO-organized international team expanded this effort by systematicallyestimating the individual burdens for some two dozen more distal risk factors by age, sex,and region, including, inter alia, malnutrition, hypertension, tobacco use, obesity, unsafesex, and several environmental and occupational risk factors. Here I define, aggregate, andcompare those diseases and risk factors that can be attributed to unhealthy buildings.These include portions of the burden from indoor and outdoor air pollution, fires, vectorbornediseases, several occupational hazards, poor water/sanitation, and lead. Although anumber of assumptions must be made leading to uncertainties in the results, an overallestimate of the impact of unhealthy buildings on global health is derived. I find that about11% of the entire global burden of disease can be attributed to unhealthy buildings, aproportion second globally only to the aggregate risk factor of malnutrition. Most of thisimpact occurs to women and young children. In addition, I briefly discuss but do notattempt to attribute a portion to unhealthy buildings of other quantified risk factors that areassociated with the built environment, including physical inactivity, falls, road trafficaccidents, and climate change.

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