The results from a publication: “the public health benefits of insulation retrofits in existing housing in the United States” from the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA, authors Jonathan I Levy, Yurika Nishioka and John D Spengler shows:
If 46 million existing single-family homes in the United States that have inadequate insulation were retrofitted with additional insulation to meet the 2000 IECC* the benefits are:
- 240 fewer premature deaths
- 6,500 fewer asthma attacks
- 110,000 fewer restricted activity days per year
- The health benefits correspond to $1.3 billion per year in externalities averted such health care, and $5.9 billion per year in additional savings associated with reduced energy consumption
In total, the insulation retrofits would save 800 TBTU (8 × 1014 British Thermal Units) per year across 46 million homes which would result in lower emissions of:
- 3100 fewer tons of PM2.5
- 100,000 fewer tons of NOx
- 190,000 fewer tons of SO2
PM2.5 are particulate smaller than 2.5 microns that have adverse health effects such as premature death, increased respiratory symptoms and disease, chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function.
Nitrous Oxide (NOx): When NOx and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight; they form photochemical smog, a significant form of air pollution.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2): is also a precursor to tiny sulfate particulates, these particulates can accumulate in the lungs and cause or worsen respiratory disease.
* The 2000 IECC is a public/private sector consensus standard which outlines a minimum energy code for new homes. The US Department of Energy (DOE) and others recommend even higher R-values for insulation in Florida.