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Health in occupants of energy efficient new homes

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Abstract

A prospective telephone-administered questionnaire study in new home occupants compared general and respiratory health at occupancy and 1 year later in two groups. The test group or cases, was 52 R-2000TM homes (128 occupants) built to preset and certified criteria for energy efficient ventilation and construction practices. The control group were 53 new homes (149 occupants) built in the same year in the same geographic area and price range. Analyzed by household, case occupants’ summative symptom scores improved significantly over the year of occupancy (Wilcoxon rank sum test, P < 0.006). Analysis of variance of individuals’ total symptom scores showed a significant effect of the type of house (P < 0.0001), with lower change of scores in case buildings, but not of age or sex. In comparison with control homes, occupants of case homes reported more improvement in throat irritation (P < 0.004), cough (P < 0.002), fatigue (P < 0.009) and irritability (P < 0.002) with the main change in symptom category being from ‘sometimes’ to ‘never’. Further extension of this pilot study is required to determine if these perceived health benefits are reproducible and/or relate to objective indoor air quality measures.
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Keywords: Indoor air quality; Mechanical ventilation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Air Quality Health Effects Section, Health Protection Branch, Health Canada 2: Natural Resources Canada, Buildings Group, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2004-06-01

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