The UK’s drive to both build more energy efficient homes and retrofit existing ones with energy efficient measures could lead to an 80% increase in asthma sufferers as indoor air quality suffers.
Professor Hazim Awbi of the University of Reading’s Institute of Built Environment has made the claims in a study titled ‘The future of indoor air quality in UK homes and its impact on health’.
The study has stated that with the UK government committed to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, building regulations will be have to be changed in order to make homes sufficiently “air tight” to aid insulation.
Awbi said that the measures would result in reduced indoor air quality, caused by pollutant and humidity levels in dwellings increasing. “This reinforces the need for the design, construction and commissioning of buildings to be undertaken with IAQ firmly in mind,” Awbi said.
Awbi’s report goes on to estimate that concentration levels of NO2 would increase by up to 30% above World Health Organisation annual limits and, ultimately, an 80% increase in asthma sufferers from current levels.
The study recommends that as the roll out of energy efficiency measures increases, a legal requirement for new homes and guidance for retrofitted homes should be issued to ensure that they have an air exchange rate “of at least 0.5/hour” in order to help protect the health of inhabitants.
It also argues that any future building regulations to enforce carbon emission reduction commitments “should be accompanied by government regulation to ensure effective and efficient design, installation, maintenance and operation of [heat recovery] systems”.