According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), certain energy efficient measure could lead to an increased rate of lung cancer among homeowners. Paul Wilkinson, the lead author of the report, and his colleagues used a physics model to calculate what would happen if homes in England used all available methods to become more airtight and reduce air leakage.
What Wilkinson and his coauthors found was that by increasing the air tightness of a home without taking any other measures would lead to a dramatic rise in indoor radon levels by an average of more than 50 percent. This means the number of homes above the radon action level would jump from 0.6 to 2.0 percent, opening up many people to the possibility of lung cancer.
Radon, a gas produced naturally from uranium in soil and water, is a known cause of lung cancer. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon contributes to over 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the country each year and is most prevalent in people who smoke.
What researchers found is that by installing a ventilation system in these houses, the radon levels would still increase but at a dramatically reduced rate. They recommend that homeowners who are making energy efficiency changes to their home install mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems to help mitigate any potential radon risks. Wilkinson predicted an additional 300 deaths per year would take place in England if people continued making energy efficiency changes without proper ventilation.
Wilkinson recommended all homeowners have their homes tested for radon and see what they can do to prevent themselves from developing lung cancer.
Homeowners should have an energy audit from Alban Inspections to see what they can do to keep their homes safe and energy efficient.