The drive for energy efficient homes could increase asthma risks, according to new research.
Led by a team at the University of Exeter Medical School, the research has found that a failure by residents to heat and ventilate retrofitted properties could lead to more people developing the respiratory condition.
Working with UK social housing provider, Coastline Housing, the research team assessed data from the residents of 700 properties in Cornwall. They found that people living in more energy efficient homes had a greater risk of asthma, and that the presence of mould doubled this risk.
This study, published in the journal Environment International, builds on previous work showing that dampness and mould can increase the risk of allergic diseases. It is the first time scientists have been able to combine detailed asset management data with information about occupant behaviour and health, to assess the factors likely to contribute to asthma.
The United Kingdom has one of the highest occurrences of asthma in the world, with the disease presenting substantial economic and societal pressures.
Researcher, Richard Sharpe, has been involved in the study and said:
“We’ve found that adults living in energy efficient social housing may have an increased risk of asthma. 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.”