Climate Change

Background

Climate change is likely to influence several aspects of indoor environmental quality (IEQ). Examples include more frequent periods of high indoor temperatures and associated heat stress, driven by more frequent outdoor heat waves, changes in indoor air pollutant levels driven by changes in outdoor air pollution, and increased indoor dampness and mold problems as a consequence of having more frequent severe storms. Also, IEQ will be affected, positively or negatively, by changes in building designs and operational practices implemented to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The magnitudes of the changes in IEQ will depend highly on the extent of climate change and on the climate change mitigation and adaption measures that are implemented.

Changes In IEQ and Health Driven by Changes in the Outdoor Environment

This section reviews how changes in the outdoor environmental conditions are projected to influence indoor environmental conditions and peoples’ health. Of particular concern are projected increases in indoor heat stress, dampness and mold, ozone exposures, and wildfire smoke exposures leading to increased adverse health effects. The effects of climate change on indoor dust mite allergens, particle concentrations, and pollen allergen concentrations are less certain.

IEQ and Health Consequences of Adaption to and Mitigation of Climate Change

As discussed in this section, measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change may influence indoor environmental conditions and peoples’ health. Increased use of air conditioning and increased adoption of building energy efficiency measures may have both positive and negative impacts on indoor environments. In the developing countries, reduced use of the most polluting biomass stoves for indoor cooking and heating can help to mitigate climate change and simultaneously improve health for a large population.