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Indigenous children sick from unsanitary homes, study finds

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A study of air quality and housing characteristics in isolated Indigenous communities found high rates of respiratory infections and cases of wheezing in young children, which the authors link to poor housing conditions .

Researchers analyzed factors that may affect respiratory health in four Aboriginal communities in the Sioux Lookout region of northern Ontario. They found high levels of mold on interior surfaces and high levels of endotoxin, caused by certain bacteria associated with wheezing.

Indoor air quality, dust mite concentration and wood burning smoke contaminants were also analyzed.

The study, conducted in homes with a total of 98 Aboriginal children aged three or younger, found inadequate ventilation in 85% of the homes. The windows were damaged in more than half of these houses, 44% had water infiltration in the exterior walls and 6% had immediate security problems.

Dr Thomas Kovesi, a pediatric pulmonologist and lead researcher on the project, said inadequate housing was linked to high rates of respiratory disease in children.

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One in five children had been admitted to hospital in the first two years of life and one in four had to be medically evacuated due to respiratory illness.

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