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Institute says energy-efficient homes may pose new health risks

Homeowners who install energy-efficient weatherization measures at home are usually limiting the exchange of indoor air with outdoor air, a situation that concerns the Institute of Medicine.

In a report released yesterday, the Institute recommended that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should step in to ensure that materials and methods used for energy-efficiency retrofits aren’t creating new, unexpected health problems.

Mold-causing dampness, secondhand smoke and chemical emissions from building materials were on the list of potential dangers in the air that may be weather-sealed inside a house and thus of concern to the Institute.

The EPA should play a leading role in developing and revising building codes and standards for ventilation and should spearhead research on the impact of climate change on indoor environmental quality, the report argued.

The Institute of Medicine is part of the National Academies and is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside government to provide unbiased advice to government and the public.

The National Association of Realtors notes that tighter building construction doesn’tnecessarilylead to mold development or growth, “but tight construction combined with some poor choices in design, building materials or operations can increase the probability of mold growth.”Check out their advice on mold.

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