Cornwall

Increased asthma risk linked to energy-efficient homes

Man with asthma inhaler
Image caption Well-insulated homes could lead to an increased risk of asthma

Health experts have linked energy-efficient homes to an increased risk of developing asthma.

Failing to heat and ventilate properties could lead to more asthma cases, according to research from the University of Exeter.

Researchers said the study, which examined 700 social housing properties in Cornwall, was the first of its kind.

Analysts looked at property details combined with the behaviour and health of people living there.

Researcher Richard Sharpe, from the university's medical school, said improved insulation was "vital" to prevent heat loss and curb energy use.

'Chemical contaminants'

He said: "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."

Researchers, who worked with social housing provider Coastline Housing, found the presence of mould doubled the risk of developing asthma.

They said poorly ventilated homes were likely to increase residents' exposure to "other biological, chemical and physical contaminants".

The study also pointed to other possible factors which can affect health in homes with high humidity, such as house dust mites and bacteria.

Researchers found increased humidity in homes where washing was dried indoors or with older and less effective heating systems.

This study, published in the journal Environment International, builds on previous work showing that dampness and mould can increase the risk of allergic diseases.

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