Nzherald.co.nz has reported (10/07/2014) on New Zealand's asthma crisis and how insulation can help prevent it.
New Zealand has the second highest prevalence of asthma in the world with nearly 600,000 adults and children suffering from the condition.
With one in seven adults and one in four children living with asthma in NZ, the economic burden has been conservatively estimated at nearly $800m per year.
Much of New Zealand's housing stock is colder and damper than recommended by the the World Health Organisation. Airborne spores, mould, smoke and chemicals from construction materials, dust and dust mites all contribute to the problem.
In 2012, a report in the NZ Medical Journal found that Maori and Pacific children and those living in deprived neighbourhoods had a much higher hospitalisation rate for respiratory tract infections. Contributing factors were lack of heating, overcrowding and exposure to second hand smoke.
Since 2009, the government has allocated $348m to the Warm Up: Heat Smart Scheme, providing home insulation to 235,000 homes. A new scheme called Warm Up: Healthy Homes started in 2013 which specifically targets low income homes with a higher risk of health issues.
The Energy Efficient Retrofit Programme that ran from 2009-2013 also invested $76m to provide home insulation to 48,034 state properties.
To ensure that indoor air is healthy, the most important issue is to have proper home insulation so that it stays warm. A dehumidifier will reduce dampness. Bedding that reduces dust mites is recommended and regularly vacuum to reduce dust exposure.
Regularly air the house by opening windows and freeze soft toys for two days every three weeks.
Learn to minimise exposure to things that trigger asthma; these can include food, stress, pets or perfumes.
Do not smoke indoors and avoid scented products. Use VOC (volatile organic compounds) free varnishes and paints.