“In our eagerness to solve an environmental problem, we are causing a health problem,” Bo Gleditsch of the Norwegian asthma and allergy association, told state broadcaster NRK.” You need to keep two thoughts in your head at once.”
He warned that new government-proposed building standards on lower carbon emissions from housing may cause asthma and allergies to increase in Norway.
“We get many questions about passive houses,” he explained. “They are almost hermetically sealed houses where the air does not change, this causes dust to accumulate and high temperatures.”
He warns that the long-term impact on people’s health of poor indoor air quality should be taken into account, as dusty and hot indoor environments may lead to high costs, both for the individual and society.
The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority agreed that new eco friendlier homes could cause serious health hazards.
”We know that children who are subjected to a bad indoor environment, even if they have never smoked but had asthma from childhood they, get COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) more often than than smokers who have never had asthma,” Jan Vilhelm Bakke, chief physician at the authority told NRK.
Elrond Burrell, a British architect and expert on Passive Houses, said that Gleditsch appeared to have been given the wrong information.
“I suspect there is some confusion between 'carbon neutral houses', and 'Passive Houses',” he told The Local. “There is considerable anecdotal evidence that living in a Passive House alleviates and/or reduces asthma suffering and other respiratory issues.”
He said Passive Houses were required to have air filters which removed stale air from the house and replaced it with fresh, filtered air.
The Norwegian government are moving ahead with their plans for reducing carbon emissions through new building regulations.
”Environmentally friendly and energy efficient building methods have developed tremendously during the last few years. Our proposal on new energy standards are at the passive house level. That means energy-efficient buildings that retain heat and use effective technology,” Jan Tore Sanner, minister of local government, said in a press release.