The Watcombe housing study: the short-term effect of improving housing conditions on the indoor environment

Sci Total Environ. 2006 May 15;361(1-3):73-80. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2005.05.007. Epub 2005 Jun 24.


A three-year study (1999-2001) was initiated in the UK to assess the effect of improving housing conditions in 3-4 bedroom, single-family unit, social rented sector houses on the health of the occupants. The houses were randomised into two groups. Phase I houses received extensive upgrading including wet central heating, on demand ventilation, double-glazed doors, cavity wall and roof/loft insulation. An identical intervention for Phase II houses was delayed for one year. As part of this randomised waiting list study, discrete measurements were made of indoor environmental variables in each house, to assess the short-term effects of improving housing conditions on the indoor environment. Variables representative of indoor environmental conditions were measured in the living room, bedroom and outdoors in each of the three years of the study. In 2000, there was a significant difference between the changes from 1999 to 2000 between Phase I (upgraded) and II (not then upgraded) houses for bedroom temperatures (p=0.002). Changes in wall surface dampness and wall dampness in Phase I houses were also significantly different to the change in Phase II houses in 2000 (p=0.001), but by 2001 the Phase I houses had reverted to the same dampness levels they had before upgrading. The housing upgrades increased bedroom temperatures in all houses. Other indoor environmental variables were not affected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / prevention & control
  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides / analysis
  • Arthropod Proteins
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Conservation of Energy Resources*
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Particle Size
  • Temperature
  • United Kingdom
  • Ventilation


  • Air Pollutants
  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides
  • Arthropod Proteins
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus antigen p 1