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Avoid risking children's health during home energy retrofits, renovations, experts urge
Date:3/6/2011

ma and respiratory diseases increases in infants or children exposed to formaldehyde or particleboard with formaldehyde-based glues, phthalates or plastic materials and paint fumes.

Polystyrene insulation material also carries potential health risks. It is manufactured by combining two carcinogens, ethylene and benzene, to produce ethylbenzene, which then forms styrene. Polystyrene often contains the flame retardant, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), a long-lasting compound associated with decreased fertility and effects on the thyroid gland.

Says CELA researcher Kathleen Cooper: "Retrofits can greatly benefit the environment and the estimated 1 million lower-income Canadian families who spend more than 10% of family income on energy costs. Often, however, those families live in older buildings where lead, asbestos and other hazards may be present, putting a premium on doing retrofits safely."

She notes that about half of Canada's current housing stock was built before 1980, and that, according to Statistics Canada, about 75% of the lowest income group in Canada live in these buildings. The Ontario government is embarking on a large province-wide program to retrofit low-income housing, she adds.

"There is very little awareness in Canada of these issues," says Ms. Cooper. "We need measures in place to ensure that renovations and retrofits are done in a way that minimizes potential health problems. Implementing our recommendations would help ensure that retrofits also create indoor environmental health benefits."


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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
Canadian Environmental Law Association
Source:Eurekalert  

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