While green housing developments are designed to reduce energy use and protect the planet, they also have the potential to affect indoor air quality and residents’ health. For example, building materials that meet energy efficiency standards may introduce chemicals linked to asthma, hormone disruption, cancer, and other health effects.
Low-income communities are especially vulnerable as they tend to have higher exposures to hazardous chemicals and are burdened with higher rates of illnesses associated with environmental contaminants compared with the rest of the population.
By studying the effects of green renovations in urban public housing on indoor air quality, Silent Spring Institute is helping to create healthier homes. The institute’s scientists are investigating indoor air pollutants in a number of housing developments throughout the United States to identify important sources of exposure and to develop effective exposure reduction strategies. The research ultimately could inform new green housing standards so that they include not only energy efficiency, but also health, by considering factors such as better ventilation and safer building materials.