Efforts to make buildings more energy efficient may actually be detrimental to the health of the people who live or work in them, according to a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report.
According to IOM, these growing efforts have prompted a shift toward using new—and untested—materials and building retrofits that might limit or alter a building's internal air flow. Restricted air flow may cause indoor pollutants, such as chemical emissions and tobacco smoke, to concentrate.
The report also suggests that untested materials and retrofits could foster:
- Indoor dampness;
- Poor ventilation;
- Higher-than-normal temperatures; and
- Emissions from materials and related equipment, such as back-up power generators.
The report notes that climate change also could directly affect indoor air quality, and urges environment regulators to work with other groups to consider such public health concerns when they review and implement new codes and ventilation standards (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/7).