Data Max


Environmental Conditions in Low-Income Urban Housing


Table of Contents

The Health in Common (HIC) Study, conducted between 2005 and 2009, recruited participants from 20 low-income housing developments in the Boston area. Environmental Conditions in Low-Income Urban Housing: Clustering and Associations With Self-Reported Health explore important findings related to health in low-income housing.

Researchers interviewed one member of each household about his or her health, and then conducted a brief inspection of the apartment to look for “household exposures” such as mold, combustion by-products (from cooking, for example), secondhand smoke, chemicals, pests, and inadequate ventilation. Researchers then examined the connection between the presence of these exposures and the health of those who lived there.

The study found that people who reported having health problems were more likely to live in apartments with household exposures. The study also found that more than half of homes had three or more exposures and that some exposures tended to “cluster,” meaning that when one was present, there was a higher likelihood that they would all be present.  In particular, problems with pests, combustion by-products, mold, and ventilation tended to be present within the same homes.

The HIC study was funded by the National Cancer Institute (Grant # R01 CA111310-01A1), under the direction of Principal Investigator Glorian Sorensen.  The analysis described above was led by Gary Adamkiewicz, our Program Leader for Healthy Cities, and John D. Spengler, our Director, in collaboration with HIC partners.


Adamkiewicz G, Spengler JD, Harley AE, Stoddard A, Yang A, Alvarez-Reeves M, Sorensen G. Environmental Conditions within Low-income Urban Housing: Clustering and Associations with Self-reported Health. American Journal of Public Health. Published online ahead of print September 12, 2013: e1–e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301253. (accepted 1/16/13; in press).

Photo credit: WikimediaCommons | Sfoskett | CC-SA-3.0

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top