• Respiratory illnesses cost European Governments 82 billion Euros per year according to new German research
  • Velux Group calls for healthier homes across UK and Europe

84 million Europeans live in homes that are too damp, causing respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), according to new research from the German institute Fraunhofer IBP.

European governments’ expenditures on asthma and COPD in terms of hospitalisation, loss of productivity and medical treatment amounts to 82 billion Euros each year, according to the research.

In light of the findings, the VELUX Group is calling for healthier homes to be a central consideration for the new European framework for national building legislations, which will affect UK house builders once implemented.

The research from FraunhoferIBP, reveals the socio-economic costs of asthma and COPD, which are proven effects also of living in damp and unhealthy buildings. The costs are 82 billion Euros annually, covering European governments’ direct expenses on medical treatment and additional care for patients in- and outside of hospitals, as well as indirect costs due to loss of productivity.

The study also reveals that close to 84 million Europeans live in damp or mouldy dwellings, which increases their risk of having respiratory diseases and life-long allergies by 40%. This proves the number of people living in unhealthy buildings remains an issue, despite recent awareness of the correlation between indoor environment and human health.

“We are convinced that the development of respiratory illnesses as a result of damp buildings can be reduced, and it is now clearer than ever that the legal framework for buildings needs to support healthy indoor climates in new and existing buildings. This way, human lives could be improved, and it is also good for the economy too,” says Grant Sneddon, Product Manager, VELUX® GBI.

Sneddon points to the upcoming revision of Energy Performance of Buildings Directives, EPBD, under the Energy Union, where the framework for national building legislations will be set.

“It is a big concern to see that very many people spend their everyday lives in damp and unhealthy homes. What is more, the new research reveals for the first time that 2.2 million citizens have asthma directly because they live in unhealthy buildings,” says Prof. Dr. Gunnar Grün, head of department for energy efficiency and indoor climate at Fraunhofer IBP.

Fraunhofer’s research, based on a cross-sectional study, questionnaires and in-depth case studies across 32 European countries, estimates that the number of Europeans living in damp and unhealthy dwellings could be reduced by 50% by 2050, which could reduce the number of people with associated respiratory diseases by 25%. In the case of asthma, this could lead to a reduction of 550,000 people.

How to prevent dampness in homes

According to the Fraunhofer institute dampness is one of the main defects in buildings across Europe, primarily caused by inadequate building structures and home owners’ lack of attention to ventilate sufficiently. As a consequence, mould is likely to grow, however the risk of this can be reduced significantly by choosing the right building fabrics during renovations.

In April 2016 the VELUX Group completed the RenovActive project in Belgium, a home renovation based on Active House principles focusing on the building’s architectural quality, human health, comfort and well-being, energy efficiency, and environmental benefits.

A key element in the modernization is the prevention of indoor dampness and mould, which is ensured by a natural and continuous airflow in the house. Read more about RenovActive by clicking here.

The Fraunhofer IBP white paper, ‘Towards an identification of European indoor environments’ impact on health and performance,’ is now available here.

Wykamol, market leader in the development and supply of remedial treatment products for damp, insect infestation, and dry rot has launched a brand new corporate catalogue, featuring new innovations as well as time-honoured standards.

Aimed at builders, contractors, specifiers and local authority purchasing departments, the compact 100-page booklet features every product in the current Wykamol portfolio, alongside technical drawings, product guides, explanatory diagrams, and illustrations of products in application and in situ.

Wykamol was founded in 1934 when Stanley Richardson was called to tackle a deathwatch beetle infestation at Winchester Cathedral. Recognising a niche for a company that could develop and manufacture remedial treatments for insect blight and similar complaints, Wykamol was born.

Insecticides, fungicides and all manner of timber and surface treatments remain a major part of Wykamol’s business, and its comprehensive range is presented in its entirety in the new catalogue. It is, however, basement conversion, damp proofing and structural waterproofing with which the Wykamol name is now broadly tied.

“There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to water ingress in buildings”, explains Andrew Latimer, Sales Director for the Wykamol Group. “The varying nature of different constructions, in itself presents challenges in selecting the correct damp proofing method for the job. At Wykamol, no matter whether it’s a ‘two-up two-down’ with a mouldy basement, or a new-build multi-storey car park, constructed on a flood plain; we’re confident in offering the product you require and can advise you in making the right decision.”

Wykamol has invested £850k in 2016, extending its Burnley HQ to house a new powder processing and bagging plant. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our offering to customers and increase the efficiency of our operations”, Andrew continues. “The new plant is our latest forward-thinking venture – others including our state-of-the-art, in-house product development lab. We’re now able to prepare bespoke powder formulations to customer’s exact specifications, such as cement waterproofing powders, thermal renders, specialist structural grouts and more.”

The catalogue’s eye-catching design takes a light-hearted look at the restoration and waterproofing trade: “Above all, a catalogue is a functional document, but there’s no reason practicality can’t be entertaining!”, Andrew adds. “We’ve covered our design with bootprints, mortar splashes and coffee cup stains, for a look that many contractors will instantly feel at home with!”

To find out more about Wykamol, visit and, to order your free copy of the new Wykamol catalogue, email or call 0845 400 6666.

Sand and cement renders have been the most common replastering method used on rising damp affected walls since the 1950s. Whilst effective, they can also present problems. Hudson Lambert of Safeguard Europe explains.

In the face of rising or penetrating damp, there is a need for internal plastering that is impervious to salt-based damp damage. Traditional strong sharp sand and cement mixes are effective at holding back damp and salts; yet they are slow and expensive to apply, and are associated with condensation risk, poor insulation qualities and a cold feel that is unpopular with building occupants. They are also not suitable for heritage structures because they are inflexible, don’t breathe and can damage underlying brickwork.

For this reason, Safeguard has developed two new replastering systems that combine the effectiveness of sand and cement without the drawbacks. Both Dryzone Renovation Plasters and Dryzone Express Replastering complete the Dryzone System range of rising damp renovation products, enabling the sourcing of all necessary materials from one place.

The Dryzone System enables the treatment of rising damp from start to finish. Simply install a new damp-proof course with either Dryrod DPC Rods or Dryzone DPC Cream and choose one of the plastering specifications below.

Replastering System No.1: Dryzone Renovation Plasters

Dryzone Damp-Resistant Plaster is a modern formulation of breathable damp and salt resistant plaster that can be applied with traditional plastering techniques. For older buildings, Dryzone Hi-Lime Renovation Plaster is also available.

Unlike sand and cement renders, Dryzone Renovation Plasters are non-destructive to the underlying masonry, do not require gauging and provide a warmer surface. Simply mix and apply two coats.

These highly effective Safeguard renovation plasters can be applied to walls while they are still damp and has a porous structure which controls salt migration, allows walls to dry out by evaporation and results in higher thermal resistance, reducing the risk of condensation. Other properties include a low compressive strength ensuring that the plaster can easily be removed at a later date without damaging underlying brickwork; high water vapour diffusion and conformity for the EN998-1 CE Standard as ‘Renovation Mortars’.

Dryzone Damp-Resistant Plaster is applied in two layers as a 5mm anchoring rough coat and a 15mm to 20mm top coat. The working time of the plaster is 30 – 60 minutes depending on temperature and humidity; and a 2mm skim coat can be applied after 24 hours.

Replastering System No. 2: Dryzone Express Replastering System

This specification utilises plasterboard and provides the speed and convenience advantages of a traditional dot and dab plasterboard application and also provides a salt and damp-proof interior wall surface.

The system is quicker and consequently less expensive to install per m2 than traditional ‘wet’ plaster systems. These materials combined allow for treatment and room reinstatement in around a day – a massive improvement over the weeks that more traditional methods may take – and obviate, for example, problems associated with decanting tenants for significant periods of time.

There are two elements to the system: Dryshield Cream, which primes walls; and Drygrip Adhesive to direct bond plasterboard to treated walls. Armed with these products, a skilled operative can treat rising damp, replaster and complete re-decoration in just 24 hours.

Once a DPC is installed, Dryshield Cream is applied to affected walls. It is a breathable, salt-resistant water-repellent that weakens the crystal strength of salts forming in or at the masonry surface as damp evaporates. Easy to apply by brush or roller, the cream not only acts as a primer for Drygrip Adhesive but also penetrates the masonry structure deeply so as to form a durable, robust bond.

Developed for ‘dab’ fixing plasterboard directly to masonry surfaces, Drygrip Adhesive forms a strong and long-lasting bond and is resistant to both salts and damp. Once fixed, the boards can be tape-jointed and skimmed as in ordinary drylining situations.

For more information please email or visit