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BRANZ Supports Asthma Awareness Week Message

BRANZ Supports Asthma Awareness Week Message –

“Don’t Give Asthma A Home”

BRANZ, the building industry’s leading research and testing provider, has welcomed the upcoming launch of Asthma Awareness Week with its focus on the importance of a warm, dry and healthy home environment.

“We all know a warm, dry home is a healthy home. Unfortunately, recent research clearly shows that many New Zealand dwellings are cold and damp. The good news is they do not have to be - as research also illustrates that retrofitting insulation can go a long way to solving this problem” says Malcolm Cunningham, Principal Scientist at BRANZ.

BRANZ is a key member of the “Housing and Health” Research Collaboration, based at the Wellington School of Medicine, which has just finished a major study involving retrofitting insulation in 1300 houses around the country.

The study’s results confirmed that New Zealand houses are very cold, but also demonstrated that insulation retrofit can have a significant and positive effect on health, especially respiratory health. While insulated homes were on average less than a degree warmer than non-insulated homes, they provide much better protection against extremes – in particular, BRANZ has shown that insulation significantly reduces exposure times to cold temperatures and high levels of humidity.

“None of these findings come as a surprise to BRANZ. We have been running a range of research programmes over a number or years aimed at understanding and addressing the problem” says Cunningham.

One such research programme is the Household Energy End-use Programme (HEEP), a major study into how people use energy in their homes. HEEP has already generated a wealth of findings. For instance, it has illustrated that the problem of damp, cold homes (bedrooms in particular) cuts across the socio-economic spectrum. It has also demonstrated an apparent link betweeen dampness and unflued gas heaters. Further HEEP findings will continue to emerge as BRANZ completes its analysis of the results over the next eighteen months.

BRANZ has also carried out related work in the area of ventilation and mould avoidance. Some of this work is already being enshrined in the Building Code to ensure that houses built in the future are warmer, drier and free of mould. Meanwhile, the ventilation research has resulted in design guides that architects and engineers can use to reach the ventilation levels required.

“Asthma Awareness Week will play an important role in raising public understanding of the relationship between health and home. Being at the forefront of research into this relationship and at the forefront of research as to how best ensure a warm, dry and healthy home environment, BRANZ supports the Asthma Foundation in its campaign”, concludes Cunningham.

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