Engineering tool links health risks, poor household air quality

A UBC Okanagan graduate engineering student has developed an indoor environmental assessment tool that has the potential to reduce respiratory illness from household mold and dampness.

PhD candidate Craig Hostland developed the tool utilizing building science and measurable site criteria, by modelling a home’s indoor environment based on its construction type, maintenance characteristics, and history of moisture events. The model then determines with a 95-per-cent probability at what level the home may be a source of respiratory distress. An added feature is that based on the occupants’  health condition, the model can confirm which house repairs could improve the conditions leading to illness, savings thousands in unneeded repairs

“I found in my research that patients that may be stricken by the most severe effects of asthma can not only partially or fully recover their health through simple remediation of their residence, the public health-care system can potentially save tens to hundreds of millions of dollars annually,” says Hostland, a senior professional engineer dedicated to designing a solution to the health consequences of indoor molds. “I estimate there are almost 500 such patients in the interior health region and more than 3,000 in British Columbia alone that can be helped,” Hostland says.

Hostland’s paper, HEALTH2: A Holistic Environmental Assessment Tool, is being delivered in Halifax this week at the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering Annual Conference, environmental division. His co-investigators are UBC School of Engineering Professors Rehan Sadiq, Deborah Roberts and Associate Professor Gordon Lovegrove.

The research paper proposes a reliable empirical model, the Holistic Environmental Assessment Lay Tool for Home Healthiness (HEALTH2), and develops guidelines for its use as a tool to evaluate and rank mold and dampness and related indoor environmental conditions associated with known respiratory health outcomes.

Hostland’s research is based on residential environmental site inspections conducted in the Okanagan between 2007 and 2013, historical data and published scientific studies.

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