British Medical Journal hails link between home insulation and improved health

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The British Medical Journal has profiled a collaborative research project including BRANZ based at the Wellington School of Medicine, which shows a conclusive link between home insulation and an improvement in the health of the occupants.

The objective of the research was to determine whether occupants’ heath and well-being is improved by insulating existing houses, increasing indoor temperatures and lowering humidities.
It is the first time that a study of this kind has been completed to strict medical and technical research criteria, and the results have been lauded by the British Medical Journal, which has profiled the research on the cover of its March edition.

The Healthy Housing Group, led by Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, completed the medical research, while BRANZ principal scientist Malcolm Cunningham was responsible for the building science.

Both aspects of the research had to deliver to strict scientific criteria in order to yield useful results.
The project involved 1350 households and 4407 participants throughout New Zealand. The conclusion was that insulating existing houses led to a significantly warmer, drier indoor environment, and resulted in improved health, including a reduction in wheezing, days off school or work and general practitioner visits, as well as a trend for fewer hospital admissions for respiratory conditions.

“For the first time, we have been able to accurately measure the effect and health benefits of insulation in homes, and that is what has the BMJ excited,” Dr Cunningham says.
“It has been an excellent project to work on and, from a scientific point of view, it demonstrates the benefit of a multi-disciplined approach on what are a complex set of factors at work.”

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