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June 7, 2011

Study: Climate change indoor threat, too


Could weatherizing your home to fight climate change actually be harmful to your health?  Possibly, according to a new study, which warns that indoor environments could be impaired by global warming and some of the measures taken to combat it.

Most research on climate change has focused on its impacts on weather and external ecosystems, but the report today (6/7) by the Institute of Medicine warns people could suffer more from indoor dampness, poor ventilation and emissions from building materials and equipment used to counter the outdoor conditions. Some of the culprits may be the very things done to our homes and workplaces to mitigate climate change by reducing energy consumption, it 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," said Professor John D. Spengler of the Harvard School of Public Health, and the study's lead author. "And new building materials and consumer products are being introduced indoors with relatively little consideration as to how they might affect the health of the occupants. Experience suggests that some of the effects could be negative."

The study, commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency, calls on the federal agency to address those concerns as building codes, ventilation standards and other regulatiosn are adopted or revised to cope with climate change.  For more, go here.

(Worker weatherizing Howard County home, 2010 Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 11:30 AM | | Comments (1)


Houseplants, especially golden pothos, break down and absorb many toxins in the air. Even NASA uses them for this purpose.

Ceiling fans will cut down on the dampness and allow you to be more comfortable with a higher setting on your air conditioning.

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About the bloggers
Tim WheelerTim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland's environment since moving here in 1983. Along the way, he's crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. He loves seafood, rambles in the country and good stories. He hopes to share some here.

Contributor Christy Zuccarini has been blogging about the local DIY craft scene for a year for She brings her pespective on all things handmade to B'More Green, where she will highlight projects you can do yourself as well as crafters who are integrating sustainable methods and materials.

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