Home owners and builders lack awareness of IAQ health risks

After exposure to scientific findings, the number of homeowners who viewed their homes as somewhat or very unhealthy more than tripled.
Tuesday, February 8, 2022

When homeowners and home builders know more about indoor air quality (IAQ) and its related health risks, they care more.

A recent report from Panasonic, an industry-leading manufacturer of air conditioning, heating, and IAQ systems, concluded that a lack of knowledge offers builders a prime opportunity to educate homeowners about the health risks of poor air quality – and the solutions that can prevent it.

Among the key findings were that after exposure to scientific findings, the number of homeowners who viewed their own homes as somewhat or very unhealthy more than tripled, from 12 per cent to 39 per cent. For homebuilders, the number more than doubled, from 29 per cent to 62 per cent.

After the survey, two out of three homebuilders considered IAQ to be much more important, with 62 per cent recommending IAQ solutions, up from 49 per cent before learning of risks mitigation through IAQ technologies.

Life-threatening health risks were seen as the top factors to elevate the importance of IAQ for both homeowners and homebuilders. The risk of off-gassing from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in many building materials was the second most compelling fact for both groups.

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of current and prospective homeowners put a lot of value in healthy home environments but prioritized factors like natural light and lack of clutter over less visible factors like IAQ, green building, and cleaning products prior to exposure to the IAQ scientific findings.

Only a small percentage of homeowners considered the air in their homes to be somewhat unhealthy (10 per cent) or very unhealthy (two per cent), and only one out of eight homeowners felt they had any health issues from poor IAQ.

In addition, over 70 per cent of builders recognized ventilation and filtration as helpful strategies for addressing poor IAQ.

RELATED: IAQ combos arresting airborne spread of COVID

High-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filtration and high-performance HVAC systems were the IAQ technologies most likely to be recommended by homebuilders. The study report notes that HEPA filters are more than 99.97 per cent efficient at capturing airborne viral particles associated with COVID-19, and improved ventilation improves health outcomes in a majority of scientific studies, with health improvement generally in the 20 per cent to 50 per cent range.

In conclusion, the survey found significant changes in participants’ perceptions and behaviours when presented with scientific findings around indoor air quality’s impact on short-term and long-term health issues.

“Many people are not aware that indoor air can be five times more polluted than outdoor, which could lead to serious and life-threatening health risks,” said Kevin Smith, General Manager of Life & Device Solutions Division and Visual Solutions, Panasonic Canada. “Educating homeowners and builders on the importance of IAQ and solutions for filtration, ventilation, purification and management of indoor air is essential for maintaining a healthy living environment. Our research found that conversations around IAQ are vital between homeowners and homebuilders, to drive healthier living and a change in the industry.”

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