Adults living in energy efficient homes may have an increased risk of asthma and the presence of mould doubled this risk, according to new research by a team at the University of Exeter Medical School who worked with leading UK social housing provider, Coastline Housing. The research has found that a failure by residents to heat and ventilate retrofitted properties could lead to more people developing the respiratory condition.
The United Kingdom has one of the leading occurrences of asthma in the world, with the disease presenting substantial economic and societal pressures. This study highlights the need for changes in the behavior of residents benefitting from energy efficient housing schemes.
Researcher Richard Sharpe said, "Modern efficiency measures are vital to help curb energy use, and typically prevent heat loss through improved insulation and crack sealing. Yet some people, particularly those living in fuel poverty, are unlikely to heat a building enough - or ventilate it sufficiently - to prevent the presence of damp and mould, factors that we know can contribute to asthma."
Head of Technical Services at Coastline Housing, Mark England, said, "Energy efficiency measures are vital to help keep costs low and reduce the environmental impact of heating our homes. This research has given us an invaluable insight into how the behavior of people living in fuel efficient homes can affect health. As a result, we're working to provide better information to customers on how to manage their indoor environment, including potential training of volunteer sustainability champions."
This study is published in the journal Environment International.