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Letters / Dangerous homes

As a regular critic of the dysfunctional planning system in Shetland, be it the “not fit for purpose planning department, the anti rural Shetland planning committee and the even worse “out of control building control” it delights me to learn of scientific findings that not only prove my belief in how utterly inappropriate the system has become, but additionally – how unhealthy and bordering on dangerous it has become.

Last week the results of a study into the unhealthy conditions in modern airtight sweat box houses, that planning forces people to build and live in, have been published. (BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-36134213)

Experts at the Glasgow School of Art’s environmental research unit (MEARU) after a survey of 200 homes constructed to the most recent airtight standards, reveal that the houses are too airtight.

This planning and design trend brought on by blinkered energy reduction hysteria has totally ignored the deterioration of air quality inside modern buildings, resulting in the near epidemic rise of allergies, asthma, eczema and a host of other environmental related health conditions.

This planning forced deterioration in environmental living conditions has compounded the older problem of volatile compounds.

We are surrounded by volatile compounds inside our buildings, from the chemicals we use for cleaning, the fabrics and materials used in soft furnishings, materiel treatments such as lacquer, varnish, paints, wood treatments, dust mite detritus, air fresheners and many more chemicals.

In a draughty or more ventilated building the air leakage/movement, assisted in removing much if not all of the volatile compounds and the human CO2 contribution, whilst constantly recharging the fresh air that all buildings need to maintain a healthy environment.

Added to this is the bacteria carrying warm damp air from washing, cooking, breathing etc that is still there and trapped despite the best ventilation systems available.

Once the human maintenance, gradual contamination of the convoluted ducting and associated filter equipment aspects of the ventilation systems kicks in, the two, three, five and eight year old house becomes a growingly more unhealthy and dangerous environment.

The Old Manse will be draughty, more energy demanding with a poor carbon footprint but light years ahead in a healthy environment

The mantra of modern planning is all down to the illogical and ignorant drive to reduce the energy footprint of a new build.

This doctrine has been making architects, planners and purveyors of unnecessary devices lots of money, on the back of making new homes more sick and costly on an ever increasing level – has it now reached a dangerous level? I totally believe it has!

Vic Thomas