Climate change buildings may hurt health

June 7, 2011 at 8:05 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should ensure building weatherization and energy-efficiency do not create health problems, a report says.

The report by the Institute of Medicine says efforts to address climate change by installing energy-efficiency retrofits should not create new indoor problems or exacerbate existing ones, such as mold-causing dampness, secondhand smoke and chemical emissions from building materials.

Indoor dampness, poor ventilation, excessive temperatures and emissions from building materials can contribute to health problems, the report says.

"America is in the midst of a large experiment in which weatherization efforts, retrofits and other initiatives that affect air exchange between the indoor and outdoor environments are taking place, and new building materials and consumer products are being introduced indoors with relatively little consideration as to how they might affect the health of occupants," John D. Spengler of the Harvard School of Public Health and chairman of the committee that wrote the report, says in a statement.

"Experience suggests that some of the effects could be negative. An upfront investment to consider the consequences of these actions before they play out and to avoid problems where they can be anticipated will yield benefits in health and in averted costs of medical care, remediation, and lost productivity."

The report can be obtained at: http://www.nap.edu.

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