The death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from exposure to mould has shown the consequences of uninhabitable homes. But how many people are living in similarly unhealthy conditions and what can be done to protect their health?

Toddler Awaab Ishak was said to be a happy, smiling little boy. And his parents say it is their home, where he should have been safe and cared for, that led to his death. The little boy fell ill after exposure to mould that blighted the family’s flat – and the coroner at his inquest said his tragic death must be a “defining moment” for the housing sector.

Yet grim though the conditions in the family’s flat were, they were not as uncommon as they should have been. Rob Booth, the Guardian’s social affairs correspondent, tells Nosheen Iqbal that mould is a widespread issue that, for some, can cause terrible health problems. One of them is Jane, whose lung condition may be terminal if she does not get a transplant – and has been caused, she says, by living in a home beset by mould. She is now taking legal action to try to protect others like her.

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