Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage their health but may not know that indoor air pollution can also have significant effects. EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be 2-5 times, and occasion more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because it is estimated that most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors.
This can contribute to
Sick Building Syndrome.
Over the past several decades, our exposure to indoor air pollutants is believed to have increased due to a variety of factors, including the construction of more tightly sealed buildings, reduced ventilation rates to save energy, the use of synthetic building materials and furnishings, and the use of chemically formulated personal care products, pesticides, and household cleaners. In recent years, comparative risk studies performed by EPA and its Science Advisory Board (SAB) have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health.
A list of common indoor air pollutants would include the following: Combustion contaminants (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, environmental tobacco smoke); Biological pollutants (animal dander, molds, dust mites, bacteria); volatile organic compounds (formaldehyde, fragrance products, pesticides, solvents, cleaning agents); heavy metals (airborne lead, mercury vapor); and Radon.
In recent years, comparative risk studies performed by EPA and its Science Advisory Board have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health. EPA, in cooperation with other Federal agencies and the private sector, is involved in a concerted effort to better understand indoor air pollution and to reduce people's exposure to air pollutants in offices, homes, schools and other indoor environments where people live, work, and play.
For detailed information available online click here for an Introduction to Indoor Air Quality.
USEPA IAQ INFO Hotline
P.O. Box 37133
Washington, DC 20013-7133