Coroner in UK confirms toddler died due to prolonged mould exposure

Coroner in UK confirms toddler died due to prolonged mould exposure

A British coroner has noted the death of a two-year-old from prolonged mould should be a “defining moment” for the country’s housing sector. Awaab Ishak died in 2020 as a result of exposure to black mould in the flat he lived in.

While tragic, his death is indicative of the breadth of the black mould problems plaguing homes in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 450,000 homes considered to have issues with condensation and mould.
The British housing ombudsman, Richard Blakeway, has said that landlords need to make plans to better address “the “real risk of worsening damp and mould issues”, particularly as energy bills soar.

The vice-president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, Greg Fell, said the verdict “tragically underscored” the “hidden risk” that mould poses to public health.

“It’s a significant threat,” he said. “We are going into a winter where people will be turning the heating down in a way that encourages more damp in our homes.”

The coroner in the case, Joanne Kearsley, explained that a number of things had gone wrong in the lead-up to the child’s death, with some of them contributing factors.

“Awaab Ishak died as a result of a severe respiratory condition caused due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home environment,” she said.

“Action to treat and prevent the mould was not taken. His respiratory condition led to respiratory arrest,” she said.

“I’m sure I’m not alone in having thought: how does this happen? How, in the UK in 2020, does a two-year-old child die from exposure to mould in his home?

“The tragic death of Awaab will, and should, be a defining moment for the housing sector in terms of increasing knowledge, increasing awareness and a deepening of understanding surrounding the issue of damp and mould.”

The president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Camilla Kingdon, explained that there was “increasing evidence [that] suggests a rising number of families are living in poor-quality accommodation, with detrimental impacts on children’s health.

“Cold and damp housing conditions can lead to increased risk of asthma, respiratory infections, slower cognitive development, and higher risk of disability, mental health problems in children.”

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