CIEH deeply saddened by death of Awaab Ishak

16 November 2022, Mark Hope

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has expressed deep sadness at the death of Awaab Ishak due to environmental mould exposure in his home.

A coroner ruled that the two-year-old died of a respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to the mould in his family’s housing association flat. The coroner said this should be a “defining moment” for the housing sector.

The toddler’s father had raised the issue and his fears with the local housing association, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), on a number of occasions, with no action being taken.

The tragic story illustrates the importance of tackling poor housing conditions in all types of tenure and, in particular, the need for better resourcing of local authorities and environmental health.

There is a huge volume of chronic ill-health affecting large sections of the population arising from exposure to damp and mouldy housing. Damp and mould are often caused by persistent condensation and the biggest factors are poorly heated and poorly insulated dwellings.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said:

“Awaab’s death is deeply saddening and highlights the need for action to be taken.

We believe local authorities have a crucial role to play in protecting vulnerable people in all types of tenure against poor housing conditions. But they need to be properly funded to deliver this protection.

Local authority involvement in tackling poor housing conditions prevents deaths every day. It also does a great deal to reduce the time people live with disabilities and ill health whose root cause is inadequate housing.

We are also calling for the whole regulatory system to be simplified so that tenants are aware of their rights under the system of laws that are supposed to be protecting them.
Further laws with no money for local authorities to enforce them are not the solution.”

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