Indoor air quality

Indoor air quality

People spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, and evidence suggests that the quality of indoor air, even in large cities, levels of pollutants can be more than 100 times higher indoors than outdoors.[1][2] Pollutants are routinely brought into homes or offices and have negative health and environmental effects. Paints and carpeting, for instance, can contain volatile organic compounds that release ground-level ozone.

Related health issues

Health effects from poor indoor air quality may appear immediately after an exposure or years later.[2] The overall quality of indoor air can have serious nagging or long-term health effects as well. Poor air quality can contribute to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, asthma, and other chronic problems; in addition, long-term exposure to low-quality indoor air can lead to respiratory problems and cancer.[3]

Home pesticides, for example, can cause a 60 percent increase in the likelihood of children developing neuroblastoma, a very serious form of cancer.[4] From a health perspective, the easiest step towards maximizing indoor air quality is to identify and reduce products that emit toxins into the air.[5]

Glossary

  • ground-level ozone: The main component of smog, ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react chemically with nitrogen oxides (NOx) when it is sunny and hot outside. Many urban areas have high levels of this summertime pollutant but rural areas can have increased ozone levels too as wind can carry ground-level ozone hundreds of miles from where it originates. Breathing ozone can cause a number of respiratory health problems plus it damages ecosystems and vegetation including crops.
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Gases released by a wide variety of products, including household cleansers, furniture, and dry-cleaned clothing. Paint and coatings alone account for 9 percent of all VOCs emitted from consumer and commercial products in the US, according to the EPA. VOCs can cause several health concerns, ranging from headaches and respiratory inflammation to central nervous system problems. VOCs are also considered a possible carcinogen.

External links

Comments

10/06/2008
10:49am
om

Anyone know whether there are kits you can buy to test indoor air quality ?

10/08/2008
9:15pm
Rebecca

om, I found a few indoor air quality test kits online: some are for homes, some for offices, some you send to a lab, some you evaluate yourself. Check out http://www.greennest.com/index.php?cPath=70, http://www.pureaircontrols.com/ieqform.html, and http://www.wolfsense.com/ to get started. There are also companies, like http://www.rx4cleanairllc.com/mainpage.html, that you can hire to monitor the air for you. I've not tried any of these yet. Any users have any first hand recommendations?

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