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Improved insulation 'could save lives'
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 9:10 am 
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Location: Hampshire
Thousands of lives could be saved every year if British homes were made warmer, a report suggests.

Around 5,500 more deaths occur in the coldest quarter of houses every year than would happen if those houses were warm.

The study, by public health expert Professor Sir Michael Marmot, says excess winter deaths (above what would normally be expected) are almost three times higher in the coldest quarter of housing than in the warmest quarter.

In 2009/2010, there were an estimated 25,400 excess winter deaths, of which 21.5% can be attributed to the coldest quarter of housing.

The report, commissioned by Friends of the Earth, said living in a cold home worsens conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism.

More than one in four adolescents living in a cold house are at risk of mental health problems, compared to one in 20 teens who have always lived in warm homes.

Cold, poorly heated homes also have a significant impact on children's health, affecting weight gain and increasing the frequency and severity of asthma, the study said.

There is also a knock-on effect on educational achievement and emotional wellbeing.

Older people living in cold homes are at higher risk of death and illnesses, with the risks going up as temperatures plummet.

Temperatures lower than 16 degrees appear to impair respiratory functions, those below 12 degrees place strain on the cardiovascular system and temperatures below six degrees place people at risk of hypothermia, the study said.

To accompany the report, Friends of the Earth released previously unpublished figures that show at least 1.3 million children in England are living in homes so cold they are officially classed as health hazards.

Sir Michael said: 'The many physical and mental health problems linked to cold homes described in this report are distressing.'

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/


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