A Guide to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)*
According to the EPA, "indoor pollution can be as much as 100 times greater than outdoors"
- Indoor Air Quality Concerns
- Indoor Air Quality in Your Home
- Improving the Air Quality in Your Home
- A Look at Source-Specific Controls
- What about Carpets?
- When Building a New Home
- Indoor Air Quality in Your Workplace
- Glossary of Terms
1. Indoor Air Quality Concerns
All of us face a variety of risks to our health as we go
about our day-to-day lives. Driving in cars, flying in planes, engaging in
recreational activities, and being exposed to environmental pollutants all pose
varying degrees of risk. Some risks are simply unavoidable. Some we choose to
accept because to do otherwise would restrict our ability to lead our lives the
way we want. And some are risks we might decide to avoid if we had the
opportunity to make informed choices. Indoor air pollution is one risk that you
can do something about.
In the last several years, a growing body of scientific
evidence has indicated that the air within homes and commercial buildings can
be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most
industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately
90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health
may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.
In addition, people who may be exposed to indoor air
pollutants for the longest periods of time are often those most susceptible to
the effects of indoor air pollution. Such groups include the young, the
elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory
or cardiovascular disease.
2. Indoor Air Quality in Your Home
What Causes Indoor Air Problems?
Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles
into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes.
Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in
enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying
indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can
also increase concentrations of some pollutants.
No home is immune to poor indoor air quality problems which
can result from many sources. Firstly, this could result from biological
contamination caused by living organisms such as bacteria, viruses, mold,
pollen, dust mites and insect droppings that accumulate in ducts, carpeting,
insulation and drains. Secondly, it can be caused by volatile organic compound
(VOC) and chemical emissions resulting from the use of products such as
cleaners, disinfectants, perfumes, air fresheners, hair sprays, cigarettes,
insecticides, paint, carpets, adhesives, laminated furniture, gas, kerosene and
coal. Thirdly, equipment such as stoves, central heating and cooling systems,
humidification devices, furnaces and space heaters can also emit noxious
chemical and particulate contaminants. Lastly, outdoor sources such as radon,
pesticides, and outdoor air pollution can also be a significant contributor to
indoor air pollution.
The relative importance of any single source depends on how
much of a given pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. In
some cases, factors such as how old the source is and whether it is properly
maintained are significant. For example, an improperly adjusted gas stove can
emit significantly more carbon monoxide than one that is properly adjusted.
Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and
household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less
continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home,
release pollutants intermittently. These include smoking, the use of unvented
or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces, or space heaters, the use of solvents in
cleaning and hobby activities, the use of paint strippers in redecorating
activities, and the use of cleaning products and pesticides in housekeeping. High
pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods after some of
Amount of Ventilation
If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can
accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Unless they are
built with special mechanical means of ventilation, homes that are designed and
constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can "leak"
into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes.
However, because some weather conditions can drastically reduce the amount of
outdoor air that enters a home, pollutants can build up even in homes that are
normally considered "leaky."
How Does Outdoor Air Enter a House?
Outdoor air enters and leaves a house by: infiltration,
natural ventilation, and mechanical ventilation. In a process known as
infiltration, outdoor air flows into the house through openings, joints, and
cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings, and around windows and doors. In natural
ventilation, air moves through opened windows and doors. Air movement
associated with infiltration and natural ventilation is caused by air
temperature differences between indoors and outdoors and by wind. Finally,
there are a number of mechanical ventilation devices, from outdoor-vented fans
that intermittently remove air from a single room, such as bathrooms and
kitchen, to air handling systems that use fans and duct work to continuously
remove indoor air and distribute filtered and conditioned outdoor air to
strategic points throughout the house. The rate at which outdoor air replaces
indoor air is described as the air exchange rate. When there is little
infiltration, natural ventilation, or mechanical ventilation, the air exchange
rate is low and pollutant levels can increase.
3. Improving the Air Quality in Your Home
Indoor Air and Your Health
Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced
soon after exposure or, possibly, years later. Immediate effects may show up
after a single exposure or repeated exposures. These include irritation of the
eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate
effects are usually short-term and treatable. Sometimes the treatment is simply
eliminating the person's exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be
identified. Symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, hypersensitivity
pneumonitis, and humidifier fever, may also show up soon after exposure to some
indoor air pollutants.
The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air
pollutants depends on several factors. Age and preexisting medical conditions
are two important influences. In other cases, whether a person reacts to a
pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from
person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological pollutants
after repeated exposures, and it appears that some people can become sensitized
to chemical pollutants as well.
Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or
other viral diseases, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are
a result of exposure to indoor air pollution. For this reason, it is important
to pay attention to the time and place the symptoms occur. If the symptoms fade
or go away when a person is away from the home and return when the person returns,
an effort should be made to identify indoor air sources that may be possible
causes. Some effects may be made worse by an inadequate supply of outdoor air
or from the heating, cooling, or humidity conditions prevalent in the home.
Other health effects may show up either years after exposure
has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects,
which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, can be
severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air
quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.
While pollutants commonly found in indoor air are
responsible for many harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty about
what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific
health problems. People also react very differently to exposure to indoor air
pollutants. Further research is needed to better understand which health
effects occur after exposure to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes
and which occur from the higher concentrations that occur for short periods of
Identifying Air Quality Problems
Some health effects can be useful indicators of an indoor
air quality problem, especially if they appear after a person moves to a new
residence, remodels or refurnishes a home, or treats a home with pesticides. If
you think that you have symptoms that may be related to your home environment,
install SaniBulbs™ in your home to eliminate pollutants, germs and odors
Another way to judge whether your home has or could develop
indoor air problems is to identify potential sources of indoor air pollution.
Although the presence of such sources does not necessarily mean that you have
an indoor air quality problem, being aware of the type and number of potential
sources is an important step toward assessing the air quality in your home.
A third way to decide whether your home may have poor indoor
air quality is to look at your lifestyle and activities. Human activities can
be significant sources of indoor air pollution. Finally, look for signs of
problems with the ventilation in your home. Signs that can indicate your home
may not have enough ventilation include odors, moisture condensation on windows
or walls, stuffy air, dirty central heating and air cooling equipment, and
areas where books, shoes, or other items become moldy. To detect odors in your
home, step outside for a few minutes, and then upon reentering your home, note
whether odors are noticeable.
Measuring Pollutant Levels
Measuring pollutant levels are most appropriate when there
are either health symptoms or signs of poor ventilation and specific sources or
pollutants have been identified as possible causes of indoor air quality
problems. Testing for many pollutants can be expensive and time consuming. It
is more pragmatic to install inexpensive Sanibulb™ in your home to
eliminate pollutants, germs and odors safely as a quick way to solve indoor air
Weatherizing Your Home
The federal government recommends that homes be weatherized
in order to reduce the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling. While
weatherization is underway, however, steps should also be taken to minimize
pollution from sources inside the home. In addition, residents should be alert
to the emergence of signs of inadequate ventilation, such as odors, stuffy air,
moisture condensation on cold surfaces, or mold and mildew growth. Additional
weatherization measures should not be undertaken until these problems have been
corrected with the installation of Sanibulb™ to solve these problems.
Weatherization generally does not cause indoor air problems
by adding new pollutants to the air. (There are a few exceptions, such as
caulking, that can sometimes emit pollutants.) However, measures such as
installing storm windows, weather stripping, caulking, and blown-in wall
insulation can reduce the amount of outdoor air infiltrating into a home.
Consequently, after weatherization, concentrations of indoor air pollutants and
odors from sources inside the home can increase.
Three Basic Strategies
Usually the first step to improve indoor air quality is to
eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions. Some
sources, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others,
like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. In many
cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting
indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation
can increase energy costs and carbon emissions. Specific sources of indoor air
pollution in your home are listed later in this article.
Another approach to lowering the concentrations of indoor
air pollutants in your home is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming
indoors but this results in significantly increasing your energy cost and
greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Also, most home heating and cooling systems,
including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into
the house. Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans, when the
weather permits, or running a window air conditioner with the vent control open
increases the outdoor ventilation rate. Local bathroom or kitchen fans that
exhaust outdoors remove contaminants directly from the room where the fan is
located and also increase the outdoor air ventilation rate.
It is particularly important to take as many of these steps
as possible while you are involved in short-term activities that can generate
high levels of pollutants-for example, painting, paint stripping, heating with
kerosene heaters, cooking, or engaging in maintenance and hobby activities such
as welding, soldering, or sanding. You might also choose to do some of these
activities outdoors, if you can and if weather permits.
Advanced designs of new homes are starting to feature
mechanical systems that bring outdoor air into the home. Some of these designs
include energy-efficient heat recovery ventilators (also known as air-to-air
Installing Sanibulb™ Air
Sanitizer, Deodorizer & Purifier
In many of cases, finding or eliminating all the pollutant
sources may not possible. Furthermore, it may not be possible or practical to
increase the fresh air entering your home. The best solution is to use an
effective air cleaner in this case. There are many types and sizes of air
cleaners on the market, ranging from table-top models to sophisticated and
expensive whole-house systems. Some air cleaners are highly effective at
particle removal, while others, including most table-top models, are much less
so. Air cleaners are generally not designed to remove gaseous pollutants with a
few exceptions like Sanibulb™.
To effectively eliminate indoor air pollutants, we recommend
using Sanibulb™ which combines the
energy saving compact fluorescent (CFL) lamp technology with state of the art
electronic and nano photocatalytic technology. This innovative multi-tasking
light bulb sanitizes, purifies and deodorizers the air harnessing the power of
light while saving energy and reducing pollution! Sanibulb™ empowers every
individual and organization with a simple and cost effective way to improve
indoor air quality while fighting global warming. Following are some key Indoor
Air Quality benefits from switching to Sanibulb™:
Sanibulb™ Kills Germs
Sanibulb™ will sanitize your air by killing various
microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold spores and dust mites
without the use of harmful chemical sanitizers. The next generation sanitizing
coating on this bulb not only kills germs, but also decomposes the cell itself
along with any toxic products. Sanibulb™ will effectively decrease the spread of germs and minimize sick days. Germs
cannot become immune to SaniBulbs™ sanitizing power which is stronger then
conventional chemical based disinfectants like chlorine and ozone.
Sanibulb™ Removes Allergens & Irritants
If you are one of the over 50 million people in America
suffering from allergies, Sanibulb™ can
help you. Sanibulb™ will purify your air by destroying airborne allergens and
irritants such as pollen, tobacco smoke and pet dander by simply turning on
your light. Best of all, this safe product eliminates the need for harmful
chemicals and UV light commonly used for sanitizing. Fighting allergies has
never been easier.
Sanibulb™ Destroys Deadly Pollutants
Indoor air pollution is caused by volatile organic compounds
(VOCs) and chemical contaminants released from various products, appliances and
equipment. It is a serious health threat and must be eliminated to provide a
safe, healthy and productive environment. A simple and effective way to destroy
harmful chemical pollutants like formaldehyde, styrene and toluene is to switch
to Sanibulb™ from incandescent lights.
The nano photocatalytic technology employed in this product will oxidize
noxious chemical contaminants into harmless carbon dioxide and water by simply
switching on a light bulb!
Sanibulb™ Eliminates Unpleasant Odors Safely
If you are currently using air fresheners, scented gels,
aerosols or plug-in fresheners, you could be exposed to harmful chemicals such
as benzene, formaldehyde and pthalates which tend to be emitted from these
products. These chemicals have been linked to breathing difficulties,
development problems in babies and cancer in lab animals according to the
Sierra Club, The Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance for Healthy Homes
and the National Center for Healthy Housing. When you switch to Sanibulb™, you will be destroying odors
safely instead of masking them with deadly chemicals. It is ideal for any place
you have persistent odors and is a healthy alternative to harmful chemical
What If You Live in an Apartment?
Apartments can have the same indoor air problems as
single-family homes because many of the pollution sources, such as biological
contaminants, interior building materials, furnishings, and household products,
are similar. Indoor air problems similar to those in offices are caused by such
sources as contaminated ventilation systems, improperly placed outdoor air
intakes, or maintenance activities.
Solutions to air quality problems in apartments, as in homes
and offices, involve such actions as: eliminating or controlling the sources of
pollution, increasing ventilation, and installing effective air cleaning
devices such as Sanibulb™ Air Sanitizer,
Deodorizer and Purifier. A resident also can take further action to improve
the indoor air quality by removing a source, altering an activity, unblocking
an air supply vent, or opening a window to temporarily increase the
ventilation; in other complex cases, however, the building owner or manager
needs to help remedy the problem.
4. A Look at Source-Specific Controls
For most indoor air quality problems in the home, source
control is the most effective solution. This section takes a source-by-source
look at the most common indoor air pollutants, their potential health effects,
and ways to reduce levels in the home.
Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS)
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is the mixture of smoke
that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and smoke
exhaled by the smoker. It is a complex mixture of over 4,000 compounds, more
than 40 of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals and many of
which are strong irritants. ETS is often referred to as "secondhand
smoke" and exposure to ETS is often called "passive smoking."
Health Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke
In 1992, EPA completed a major assessment of the respiratory
health risks of ETS (Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer
and Other Disorders EPA/600/6-90/006F). The report concludes that exposure to
ETS is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in
nonsmoking adults and impairs the respiratory health of hundreds of thousands
Infants and young children whose parents smoke in their
presence are at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections (pneumonia
and bronchitis) and are more likely to have symptoms of respiratory irritation
like cough, excess phlegm, and wheeze. EPA estimates that passive smoking annually
causes between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in
infants and children under 18 months of age, resulting in between 7,500 and
15,000 hospitalizations each year. These children may also have a build-up of
fluid in the middle ear, which can lead to ear infections. Older children who
have been exposed to secondhand smoke may have slightly reduced lung function.
Asthmatic children are especially at risk. EPA estimates
that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the number of episodes and severity
of symptoms in hundreds of thousands of asthmatic children, and may cause
thousands of non-asthmatic children to develop the disease each year. EPA
estimates that between 200,000 and 1,000,000 asthmatic children have their
condition made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke each year. Exposure to
secondhand smoke causes eye, nose, and throat irritation. It may affect the
cardiovascular system and some studies have linked exposure to secondhand smoke
with the onset of chest pain.
Reducing Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke
Install Sanibulb™ Air Sanitizing, Purifying &
Deodorizing CFL Bulbs.
A simple yet effective way to destroy toxic chemical
pollutants from tobacco smoke like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde is to switch
to Sanibulb™ from energy guzzling
incandescent lights. The nano photocatalytic technology employed in this
product will oxidize noxious smoke chemical contaminants into harmless carbon
dioxide and water by simply switching on a light bulb! As an added benefit, it
will reduce energy consumption by 75% and save money.
Don't smoke at home or permit others to do so. Ask smokers
to smoke outdoors.
The 1986 Surgeon General's report concluded that physical
separation of smokers and nonsmokers in a common air space, such as different
rooms within the same house, may reduce - but will not eliminate - non-smokers'
exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
If smoking indoors cannot be avoided, increase ventilation
in the area where smoking takes place.
Open windows or use exhaust fans. Ventilation, a common
method of reducing exposure to indoor air pollutants, also will reduce but not
eliminate exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Because smoking produces
such large amounts of pollutants, natural or mechanical ventilation techniques
do not remove them from the air in your home as quickly as they build up. In
addition, the large increases in ventilation it takes to significantly reduce
exposure to environmental tobacco smoke can also increase energy costs
substantially. Consequently, the most effective way to reduce exposure to
environmental tobacco smoke in the home is to install Sanibulb™ Air Sanitizer, Deodorizer and
Purifier which will also reduce your energy cost by 75%.
Do not smoke if children are present, particularly infants
Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of
passive smoking. Do not allow baby-sitters or others who work in your home to
smoke indoors. Discourage others from smoking around children. Find out about
the smoking policies of the day care center providers, schools, and other care
givers for your children. The policy should protect children from exposure to
Biological contaminants include bacteria, molds, mildew,
viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust mites, cockroaches, and
pollen. There are many sources of these pollutants. Pollens originate from
plants; viruses are transmitted by people and animals; bacteria are carried by
people, animals, and soil and plant debris; and household pets are sources of
saliva and animal dander. The protein in urine from rats and mice is a potent
allergen. When it dries, it can become airborne. Contaminated central air
handling systems can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and other
sources of biological contaminants and can then distribute these contaminants
through the home.
By controlling the relative humidity level in a home, the
growth of some sources of biologicals can be minimized. A relative humidity of
30-50 percent is generally recommended for homes. Standing water, water-damaged
materials, or wet surfaces also serve as a breeding ground for molds, mildews,
bacteria, and insects. House dust mites, the source of one of the most powerful
biological allergens, grow in damp, warm environments.
Health Effects from Biological Contaminants
Some biological contaminants trigger allergic reactions,
including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, and some types of
asthma. Infectious illnesses, such as influenza, measles, and chicken pox are
transmitted through the air. Molds and mildews release disease-causing toxins.
Symptoms of health problems caused by biological pollutants include sneezing,
watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever, and
Allergic reactions occur only after repeated exposure to a
specific biological allergen. However, that reaction may occur immediately upon
re-exposure or after multiple exposures over time. As a result, people who have
noticed only mild allergic reactions, or no reactions at all, may suddenly find
themselves very sensitive to particular allergens.
Some diseases, like humidifier fever, are associated with
exposure to toxins from microorganisms that can grow in large building
ventilation systems. However, these diseases can also be traced to
microorganisms that grow in home heating and cooling systems and humidifiers.
Children, elderly people, and people with breathing problems, allergies, and
lung diseases are particularly susceptible to disease-causing biological agents
in the indoor air.
Reducing Exposure to Biological Contaminants
Install Sanibulb™ Air
Sanitizing, Purifying & Deodorizing CFL Bulbs
Sanibulb™ will effectively sanitize your air by killing
various microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold spores and dust
mites without the use of harmful chemical sanitizers. The next generation
sanitizing coating on this bulb utilizing nano technology not only kills germs,
but also decomposes the cell itself along with any toxic products and inhibits
the growth of airborne pathogens. Sanibulb™ will effectively decrease the
spread of germs and minimize sick days. Germs cannot become immune to SaniBulbsTM
sanitizing power which is stronger then conventional chemical based disinfectants
like chlorine and ozone. Please refer to the Air Purifier Comparison Guide which indicates that Sanibulb™ is better than most filters, which merely trap
airborne particles and organisms.
Install and use exhaust fans that are vented to the outdoors
in kitchens and bathrooms and vent clothes dryers outdoors.
These actions can eliminate much of the moisture that builds
up from everyday activities. There are exhaust fans on the market that produce
little noise, an important consideration for some people. Another benefit to
using kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans is that they can reduce levels of
organic pollutants that vaporize from hot water used in showers and
Ventilate the attic and crawl spaces to prevent moisture
Keeping humidity levels in these areas below 50 percent can
prevent water condensation on building materials. Also, the use of MOISTURESORB™ Moisture Absorbent Pouches and Granules will help you control moisture
If using cool mist or ultrasonic humidifiers, clean
appliances according to manufacturer's instructions and refill with fresh water
Because these humidifiers can become breeding grounds for
biological contaminants, they have the potential for causing diseases such as
hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever. Evaporation trays in air
conditioners, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators should also be cleaned
Thoroughly clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building
materials (within 24 hours if possible) or consider removal and replacement.
Water-damaged carpets and building materials can harbor mold
and bacteria. It is very difficult to completely rid such materials of
biological contaminants but SMELLEZE™ Carpet Deodorizer
Powder is very effective at eliminating odors.
Keep the house clean. House dust mites, pollens, animal
dander, and other allergy-causing agents can be reduced, although not
eliminated, through regular cleaning.
People who are allergic to these pollutants should use
allergen-proof mattress encasements, wash bedding in hot (130o F) water, and
avoid room furnishings that accumulate dust, especially if they cannot be
washed in hot water. Allergic individuals should also leave the house while it
is being vacuumed because vacuuming can actually increase airborne levels of
mite allergens and other biological contaminants. Using central vacuum systems
that are vented to the outdoors or vacuums with high efficiency filters may
also be of help.
Take steps to minimize biological pollutants in basements.
Clean and disinfect the basement floor drain regularly. Do
not finish a basement below ground level unless all water leaks are patched and
outdoor ventilation and adequate heat to prevent condensation are provided.
Operate a dehumidifier in the basement if needed to keep relative humidity
levels between 30-50 percent. Also, the use of MOISTURESORB™
Moisture Absorbent Pouches and Granules will help you control moisture
Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces, and Chimneys
In addition to environmental tobacco smoke, other sources of
combustion products are unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, woodstoves,
fireplaces, and gas stoves. The major pollutants released are carbon monoxide,
nitrogen dioxide, and particles. Unvented kerosene heaters may also generate
Combustion gases and particles also come from chimneys and
flues that are improperly installed or maintained and cracked furnace heat
exchangers. Pollutants from fireplaces and woodstoves with no dedicated outdoor
air supply can be "back-drafted" from the chimney into the living
space, particularly in weatherized homes.
Health Effects of Combustion Products
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that interferes
with the delivery of oxygen throughout the body. At high concentrations it can
cause unconsciousness and death. Lower concentrations can cause a range of
symptoms from headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, confusion, and
disorientation, to fatigue in healthy people and episodes of increased chest
pain in people with chronic heart disease. The symptoms of carbon monoxide
poisoning are sometimes confused with the flu or food poisoning. Fetuses,
infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or
respiratory disease can be especially sensitive to carbon monoxide exposures.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a colorless, odorless gas that
irritates the mucous membranes in the eye, nose, and throat and causes
shortness of breath after exposure to high concentrations. There is evidence
that high concentrations or continued exposure to low levels of nitrogen
dioxide increases the risk of respiratory infection; there is also evidence
from animal studies that repeated exposures to elevated nitrogen dioxide levels
may lead, or contribute, to the development of lung disease such as emphysema.
People at particular risk from exposure to nitrogen dioxide include children
and individuals with asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Particles, released when fuels are incompletely burned, can
lodge in the lungs and irritate or damage lung tissue. A number of pollutants,
including radon and benzo(a)pyrene, both of which can cause cancer, attach to
small particles that are inhaled and then carried deep into the lung.
Reducing Exposure to Combustion Products in Homes
Install Sanibulb™ Air Sanitizing, Purifying &
Deodorizing CFL Bulbs
A simple and effective way to destroy harmful combustion
gases is to switch to Sanibulb™ from
incandescent lights. The nano photocatalytic coating employed on this product
will oxidize and destroy noxious pollutants released from combustion by simply
switching on a light bulb! And, you will reduce your energy consumption and
save money in the process as well! Please refer to the Air Purifier Comparison Guide which indicates that Sanibulb™ is better at destroying toxic combustion
products then most filters, which merely trap airborne particles and do not
remove noxious gases.
Take special precautions when operating fuel-burning
unvented space heaters.
Consider potential effects of indoor air pollution if you
use an unvented kerosene or gas space heater. Follow the manufacturer's
directions, especially instructions on the proper fuel and keeping the heater
properly adjusted. A persistent yellow-tipped flame is generally an indicator
of maladjustment and increased pollutant emissions. While a space heater is in
use, open a door from the room where the heater is located to the rest of the
house and open a window slightly.
Install and use exhaust fans over gas cooking stoves and
ranges and keep the burners properly adjusted.
Using a stove hood with a fan vented to the outdoors greatly
reduces exposure to pollutants during cooking. Improper adjustment, often
indicated by a persistent yellow-tipped flame, causes increased pollutant
emissions. Ask your gas company to adjust the burner so that the flame tip is
blue. If you purchase a new gas stove or range, consider buying one with
pilotless ignition because it does not have a pilot light that burns
continuously. Never use a gas stove to heat your home. Always make certain the
flue in your gas fireplace is open when the fireplace is in use.
Keep woodstove emissions to a minimum. Choose properly sized
new stoves that are certified as meeting EPA emission standards.
Make certain that doors in old woodstoves are tight-fitting.
Use aged or cured (dried) wood only and follow the manufacturer's directions
for starting, stoking, and putting out the fire in woodstoves. Chemicals are
used to pressure-treat wood; such wood should never be burned indoors.
Have central air handling systems, including furnaces, flues,
and chimneys, inspected annually and promptly repair cracks or damaged parts.
Blocked, leaking, or damaged chimneys or flues release
harmful combustion gases and particles and even fatal concentrations of carbon
monoxide. Strictly follow all service and maintenance procedures recommended by
the manufacturer, including those that tell you how frequently to change the
filter. If manufacturer's instructions are not readily available, change
filters once every month or two during periods of use. Proper maintenance is
important even for new furnaces because they can also corrode and leak
combustion gases, including carbon monoxide.
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in
household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as
do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels
are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic
compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.
EPA's Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies
found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times
higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located
in rural or highly industrial areas. Additional TEAM studies indicate that
while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose
themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated
concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.
Health Effects of Household Chemicals
The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects
varies greatly, from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health
effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect
will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time
exposed. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual
disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some
people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics. At present, not
much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics
usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in
animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in
Reducing Exposure to Household Chemicals
Install Sanibulb™ Air
Sanitizing, Purifying & Deodorizing CFL Bulbs.
A simple and effective way to destroy harmful chemical pollutants
like formaldehyde, styrene and toluene is to switch to Sanibulb™ from energy
guzzling incandescent lights. The nano photocatalytic technology employed in
this product will oxidize noxious chemical contaminants into harmless carbon
dioxide and water while saving energy and money! Please refer to the Air Purifier Comparison Guide which indicates that Sanibulb™ is better at destroying volatile organic compounds
(VOCs) than most air cleaners.
Follow label instructions carefully.
Potentially hazardous products often have warnings aimed at
reducing exposure of the user. For example, if a label says to use the product
in a well-ventilated area, go outdoors or in areas equipped with an exhaust fan
to use it. Otherwise, open up windows to provide the maximum amount of outdoor
Throw away partially full containers of old or unneeded
Because gases can leak even from closed containers, this
single step could help lower concentrations of organic chemicals in your home.
(Be sure that materials you decide to keep are stored not only in a
well-ventilated area but are also safely out of reach of children.) Do not
simply toss these unwanted products in the garbage can. Find out if your local
government or any organization in your community sponsors special days for the
collection of toxic household wastes. If such days are available, use them to
dispose of the unwanted containers safely. If no such collection days are
available, think about organizing one.
Buy limited quantities.
If you use products only occasionally or seasonally, such as
paints, paint strippers, and kerosene for space heaters or gasoline for lawn
mowers, buy only as much as you will use right away.
Keep exposure to emissions from products containing
methylene chloride to a minimum.
Consumer products that contain methylene chloride include
paint strippers, adhesive removers, and aerosol spray paints. Methylene
chloride is known to cause cancer in animals. Also, methylene chloride is
converted to carbon monoxide in the body and can cause symptoms associated with
exposure to carbon monoxide. Carefully read the labels containing health hazard
information and cautions on the proper use of these products. Use products that
contain methylene chloride outdoors when possible; use indoors only if the area
is well ventilated.
Keep exposure to benzene to a minimum.
Benzene is a known human carcinogen. The main indoor sources
of this chemical are environmental tobacco smoke, stored fuels and paint
supplies, and automobile emissions in attached garages. Actions that will
reduce benzene exposure include eliminating smoking within the home, providing
for maximum ventilation during painting, and discarding paint supplies and
special fuels that will not be used immediately.
Keep exposure to perchloroethylene emissions from newly
dry-cleaned materials to a minimum.
Perchloroethylene is the chemical most widely used in dry
cleaning. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to cause cancer in animals.
Recent studies indicate that people breathe low levels of this chemical both in
homes where dry-cleaned goods are stored and as they wear dry-cleaned clothing.
Dry cleaners recapture the perchloroethylene during the dry-cleaning process so
they can save money by re-using it, and they remove more of the chemical during
the pressing and finishing processes. Some dry cleaners, however, do not remove
as much perchloroethylene as possible all of the time. Taking steps to minimize
your exposure to this chemical is prudent. If dry-cleaned goods have a strong
chemical odor when you pick them up, do not accept them until they have been
properly dried. If goods with a chemical odor are returned to you on subsequent
visits, try a different dry cleaner.
Formaldehyde is an important chemical used widely by
industry to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. It
is also a by-product of combustion and certain other natural processes. Thus,
it may be present in substantial concentrations both indoors and outdoors.
Sources of formaldehyde in the home include building
materials, smoking, household products, and the use of unvented, fuel-burning
appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters. Formaldehyde, by itself
or in combination with other chemicals, serves a number of purposes in
manufactured products. For example, it is used to add permanent-press qualities
to clothing and draperies, as a component of glues and adhesives, and as a
preservative in some paints and coating products.
In homes, the most significant sources of formaldehyde are
likely to be pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde
(UF) resins. Pressed wood products made for indoor use include: particleboard
(used as subflooring and shelving and in cabinetry and furniture); hardwood
plywood paneling (used for decorative wall covering and used in cabinets and
furniture); and medium density fiberboard (used for drawer fronts, cabinets,
and furniture tops). Medium density fiberboard contains a higher resin-to-wood
ratio than any other UF pressed wood product and is generally recognized as
being the highest formaldehyde-emitting pressed wood product.
Other pressed wood products, such as softwood plywood and
flake or oriented strandboard, are produced for exterior construction use and
contain the dark, or red/black-colored phenol-formaldehyde (PF) resin. Although
formaldehyde is present in both types of resins, pressed woods that contain PF
resin generally emit formaldehyde at considerably lower rates than those
containing UF resin.
Since 1985, the Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) has permitted only the use of plywood and particleboard that conform to
specified formaldehyde emission limits in the construction of prefabricated and
mobile homes. In the past, some of these homes had elevated levels of
formaldehyde because of the large amount of high-emitting pressed wood products
used in their construction and because of their relatively small interior
The rate at which products like pressed wood or textiles
release formaldehyde can change. Formaldehyde emissions will generally decrease
as products age. When the products are new, high indoor temperatures or
humidity can cause increased release of formaldehyde from these products.
During the 1970s, many homeowners had urea-formaldehyde foam
insulation (UFFI) installed in the wall cavities of their homes as an energy
conservation measure. However, many of these homes were found to have
relatively high indoor concentrations of formaldehyde soon after the UFFI
installation. Few homes are now being insulated with this product. Studies show
that formaldehyde emissions from UFFI decline with time; therefore, homes in
which UFFI was installed many years ago are unlikely to have high levels of
Health Effects of Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, can cause
watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty
in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per
million). High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There
is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has
also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans.
Reducing Exposure to Formaldehyde in Homes
Install Sanibulb™ Air
Sanitizing, Purifying & Deodorizing CFL Bulbs
A simple and effective way to destroy formaldehyde is to
switch to Sanibulb™ from energy
guzzling incandescent lights. The nano photocatalytic technology employed in
this product will oxidize noxious chemical contaminants into harmless carbon
dioxide and water while saving energy and money! Please refer to the Air Purifier Comparison Guide which indicates that Sanibulb™ is better at destroying formaldehyde than most
filters, which merely trap airborne particles and do not remove noxious gases.
Ask about the formaldehyde content of pressed wood products,
including building materials, cabinetry, and furniture before you purchase
If you experience adverse reactions to formaldehyde, you may
want to avoid the use of pressed wood products and other formaldehyde-emitting
goods. Even if you do not experience such reactions, you may wish to reduce
your exposure as much as possible by purchasing exterior-grade products, which
emit less formaldehyde.
Some studies suggest that coating pressed wood products with
polyurethane may reduce formaldehyde emissions for some period of time. To be
effective, any such coating must cover all surfaces and edges and remain
intact. Increase the ventilation and carefully follow the manufacturer
instructions while applying these coatings. (If you are sensitive to
formaldehyde, check the label contents before purchasing coating products to
avoid buying products that contain formaldehyde, as they will emit the chemical
for a short time after application.) Maintain moderate temperature and humidity
levels and provide adequate ventilation. The rate at which formaldehyde is
released is accelerated by heat and may also depend somewhat on the humidity
level. Therefore, the use of dehumidifiers and air conditioning to control
humidity and to maintain a moderate temperature can help reduce formaldehyde
emissions. (Drain and clean dehumidifier collection trays frequently so that
they do not become a breeding ground for microorganisms.) Increasing the rate
of ventilation in your home will also help in reducing formaldehyde levels.
According to a recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. households
used at least one pesticide product indoors during the past year. Products used
most often are insecticides and disinfectants. Another study suggests that 80
percent of most people's exposure to pesticides occurs indoors and that
measurable levels of up to a dozen pesticides have been found in the air inside
homes. The amount of pesticides found in homes appears to be greater than can
be explained by recent pesticide use in those households; other possible
sources include contaminated soil or dust that floats or is tracked in from
outside, stored pesticide containers, and household surfaces that collect and
then release the pesticides. Pesticides used in and around the home include
products to control insects (insecticides), termites (termiticides), rodents (rodenticides),
fungi (fungicides), and microbes (disinfectants). They are sold as sprays,
liquids, sticks, powders, crystals, balls, and foggers. Recently, safer
chemical free pest control products such as Pesteze™ have been successfully introduced.
In 1990, the American Association of Poison Control Centers
reported that some 79,000 children were involved in common household pesticide
poisonings or exposures. In households with children under five years old,
almost one-half stored at least one pesticide product within reach of children.
EPA registers pesticides for use and requires manufacturers
to put information on the label about when and how to use the pesticide. It is
important to remember that the "-cide" in pesticides means "to
kill." These products can be dangerous if not used properly.
In addition to the active ingredient, pesticides are also
made up of ingredients that are used to carry the active agent. These carrier
agents are called "inerts" in pesticides because they are not toxic
to the targeted pest; nevertheless, some inerts are capable of causing health
Health Effects From Pesticides
Both the active and inert ingredients in pesticides can be
organic compounds; therefore, both could add to the levels of airborne organics
inside homes. Both types of ingredients can cause the effects discussed in this
document under "Household Products," however, as with other household
products, there is insufficient understanding at present about what pesticide
concentrations are necessary to produce these effects.
Exposure to high levels of cyclodiene pesticides, commonly
associated with misapplication, has produced various symptoms, including
headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching, weakness, tingling sensations, and
nausea. In addition, EPA is concerned that cyclodienes might cause long-term
damage to the liver and the central nervous system, as well as an increased
risk of cancer.
There is no further sale or commercial use permitted for the
following cyclodiene or related pesticides: chlordane, aldrin, dieldrin, and
heptachlor. The only exception is the use of heptachlor by utility companies to
control fire ants in underground cable boxes.
Reducing Exposure to Pesticides in Homes
Install Sanibulb™ Air
Sanitizing, Purifying & Deodorizing CFL Bulbs
A simple and effective way to destroy pesticide fumes
without the use of other harmful chemicals is to switch to Sanibulb™ from
energy guzzling incandescent lights. The nano photocatalytic technology
employed in this product will oxidize noxious pesticide contaminants into
harmless carbon dioxide and water while saving energy and money! Please refer
to the Air Purifier
Comparison Guide which indicates that Sanibulb™ is better at destroying
chemical contaminants than most filters, which merely trap airborne particles
and do not remove noxious gases.
Reduce the use of pesticides when possible.
Since pesticides can be found far from the site of their
original application, it is prudent to reduce the use of chemical pesticides
outdoors as well as indoors. Depending on the site and pest to be controlled,
one or more of the following steps can be effective: use of biological
pesticides, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, for the control of gypsy moths;
selection of disease-resistant plants; and frequent washing of indoor plants
and pets. Termite damage can be reduced or prevented by making certain that
wooden building materials do not come into direct contact with the soil and by
storing firewood away from the home. By appropriately fertilizing, watering,
and aerating lawns, the need for chemical pesticide treatments of lawns can be
Use Pesteze™ Chemical
Free Pest Control Products instead of pesticides.
Pesteze™ Pest Control Products are the most environmentally
friendly solutions you will find to control pests in your home and work. These
safe electronic products do not use any toxic chemicals and simply work by
repelling pests with harmless ultrasound and electromagnetic sound waves which
are silent to people and pets. The ultrasonic wave’s frequency changes
constantly so pests can’t get used to them or become immune. This has proven to
be a very effective "unwelcome mat" for pests! They completely
eliminate the need for harmful chemicals, poisons, traps or noxious materials
conventionally used for pest control. These innovative products will repel
pests with no negative impact on the environment or your health.
Read the label and follow the directions. It is illegal to
use any pesticide in any manner inconsistent with the directions on its label.
Unless you have had special training and are certified,
never use a pesticide that is restricted to use by state-certified pest control
operators. Such pesticides are simply too dangerous for application by a
non-certified person. Use only the pesticides approved for use by the general
public and then only in recommended amounts; increasing the amount does not
offer more protection against pests and can be harmful to you and your plants
Ventilate the area well after pesticide use.
Mix or dilute pesticides outdoors or in a well-ventilated
area and only in the amounts that will be immediately needed. If possible, take
plants and pets outside when applying pesticides to them.
If you decide to use a pest control company, choose one
Ask for an inspection of your home and get a written control
program for evaluation before you sign a contract. The control program should
list specific names of pests to be controlled and chemicals to be used; it
should also reflect any of your safety concerns. Insist on a proven record of
competence and customer satisfaction.
Dispose of unwanted pesticides safely.
If you have unused or partially used pesticide containers
you want to get rid of, dispose of them according to the directions on the
label or on special household hazardous waste collection days. If there are no
such collection days in your community, work with others to organize them.
Keep exposure to moth repellents to a minimum.
One pesticide often found in the home is
paradichlorobenzene, a commonly used active ingredient in moth repellents which
is known to cause cancer in animals. EPA requires that products containing
paradichlorobenzene bear warnings such as "avoid breathing vapors" to
warn users of potential short-term toxic effects. Where possible,
paradichlorobenzene, and items to be protected against moths, should be placed
in trunks or other containers that can be stored in areas that are separately
ventilated from the home, such as attics and detached garages.
Paradichlorobenzene is also the key active ingredient in many air fresheners
(in fact, some labels for moth repellents recommend that these same products be
used as air fresheners or deodorants). Proper ventilation and basic household
cleanliness will go a long way toward preventing unpleasant odors. If you do
end up with a mothball odor problem, use Smelleze™ Mothball Deodorizer
Pouches to eliminate the toxic odors.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used commonly in a
variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a
fire-retardant. EPA and CPSC have banned several asbestos products.
Manufacturers have also voluntarily limited uses of asbestos. Today, asbestos
is most commonly found in older homes, in pipe and furnace insulation
materials, asbestos shingles, millboard, textured paints and other coating
materials, and floor tiles.
Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after
asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other
remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release
asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and
endangering people living in those homes.
Health Effects of Asbestos
The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to be
visible. After they are inhaled, they can remain and accumulate in the lungs.
Asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest and
abdominal linings), and asbestosis (irreversible lung scarring that can be
fatal). Symptoms of these diseases do not show up until many years after
exposure began. Most people with asbestos-related diseases were exposed to
elevated concentrations on the job; some developed disease from exposure to
clothing and equipment brought home from job sites.
Reducing Exposure to Asbestos in Homes
If you think your home may have asbestos, don't panic!
Usually it is best to leave asbestos material that is in
good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release
asbestos fiber. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into
Do not cut, rip, or sand asbestos-containing materials.
Leave undamaged materials alone and, to the extent possible,
prevent them from being damaged, disturbed, or touched. Periodically inspect
for damage or deterioration. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top
pads, or ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental, or other
appropriate officials to find out about proper handling and disposal
If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if
you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or
removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find
out whether asbestos materials are present.
When you need to remove or clean up asbestos, use a
professionally trained contractor.
Select a contractor only after careful discussion of the
problems in your home and the steps the contractor will take to clean up or
remove them. Consider the option of sealing off the materials instead of
Call EPA's TSCA assistance line at (202) 554-1404 to find
out whether your state has a training and certification program for asbestos
removal contractors and for information on EPA's asbestos programs ( www.epa.gov/asbestos )
Lead has long been recognized as a harmful environmental
pollutant. In late 1991, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human
Services called lead the "number one environmental threat to the health of
children in the United States." There are many ways in which humans are
exposed to lead: through air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil,
deteriorating paint, and dust. Airborne lead enters the body when an individual
breathes or swallows lead particles or dust once it has settled. Before it was
known how harmful lead could be, it was used in paint, gasoline, water pipes, and
many other products.
Old lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead
exposure in the U.S. today. Harmful exposures to lead can be created when
lead-based paint is improperly removed from surfaces by dry scraping, sanding,
or open-flame burning. High concentrations of airborne lead particles in homes
can also result from lead dust from outdoor sources, including contaminated
soil tracked inside, and use of lead in certain indoor activities such as
soldering and stained-glass making.
Health Effects of Exposure to Lead
Lead affects practically all systems within the body. At
high levels it can cause convulsions, coma, and even death. Lower levels of
lead can adversely affect the brain, central nervous system, blood cells, and
The effects of lead exposure on fetuses and young children
can be severe. They include delays in physical and mental development, lower IQ
levels, shortened attention spans, and increased behavioral problems. Fetuses,
infants, and children are more vulnerable to lead exposure than adults since
lead is more easily absorbed into growing bodies, and the tissues of small
children are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Children may have
higher exposures since they are more likely to get lead dust on their hands and
then put their fingers or other lead-contaminated objects into their mouths.
Get your child tested for lead exposure. To find out where
to do this, call your doctor or local health clinic. For more information on
health effects, get a copy of the Centers for Disease Control's, Preventing
Lead Poisoning in Young Children (October 1991).
Ways to Reduce Exposure to Lead
Keep areas where children play as dust-free and clean as
Mop floors and wipe window ledges and chewable surfaces such
as cribs with a solution of powdered automatic dishwasher detergent in warm
water. (Dishwasher detergents are recommended because of their high content of
phosphate.) Most multi-purpose cleaners will not remove lead in ordinary dust.
Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly. Make sure that children wash their
hands before meals, nap time, and bedtime.
Reduce the risk from lead-based paint.
Most homes built before 1960 contain heavily leaded paint.
Some homes built as recently as 1978 may also contain lead paint. This paint
could be on window frames, walls, the outside of homes, or other surfaces. Do
not burn painted wood since it may contain lead.
Leave lead-based paint undisturbed if it is in good
condition - do not sand or burn off paint that may contain lead.
Lead paint in good condition is usually not a problem except
in places where painted surfaces rub against each other and create dust (for
example, opening a window).
Do not remove lead paint yourself.
Individuals have been poisoned by scraping or sanding lead
paint because these activities generate large amounts of lead dust. Consult
your state health or housing department for suggestions on which private
laboratories or public agencies may be able to help test your home for lead in
paint. Home test kits cannot detect small amounts of lead under some
conditions. Hire a person with special training for correcting lead paint
problems to remove lead-based paint. Occupants, especially children and
pregnant women, should leave the building until all work is finished and
clean-up is done.
For additional information dealing with lead-based paint
abatement contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the
following two documents: Comprehensive and Workable Plan for the Abatement of
Lead-Based Paint in Privately Owned Housing: Report to Congress (December 7,
1990) and Lead-Based Paint: Interim Guidelines for Hazard Identification and
Abatement in Public and Indian Housing (September 1990).
Do not bring lead dust into the home.
If you work in construction, demolition, painting, with
batteries, in a radiator repair shop or lead factory, or your hobby involves
lead, you may unknowingly bring lead into your home on your hands or clothes.
You may also be tracking in lead from soil around your home. Soil very close to
homes may be contaminated from lead paint on the outside of the building. Soil
by roads and highways may be contaminated from years of exhaust fumes from cars
and trucks that used leaded gas. Use door mats to wipe your feet before
entering the home. If you work with lead in your job or a hobby, change your
clothes before you go home and wash these clothes separately. Encourage your
children to play in sand and grassy areas instead of dirt which sticks to
fingers and toys. Try to keep your children from eating dirt, and make sure
they wash their hands when they come inside.
Find out about lead in drinking water.
Most well and city water does not usually contain lead.
Water usually picks up lead inside the home from household plumbing that is
made with lead materials. The only way to know if there is lead in drinking
water is to have it tested. Contact the local health department or the water
supplier to find out how to get the water tested. Send for the EPA pamphlet,
Lead and Your Drinking Water, for more information about what you can do if you
have lead in your drinking water. Call EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline
(800-426-4791) for more information.
A child who gets enough iron and calcium will absorb less
lead. Foods rich in iron include eggs, red meats, and beans. Dairy products are
high in calcium. Do not store food or liquid in lead crystal glassware or
imported or old pottery. If you reuse old plastic bags to store or carry food,
keep the printing on the outside of the bag.
You can get a brochure and more information by calling the
National Lead Information Center, 800-424-LEAD (800-424-5323). EPA's Lead in
Paint, Dust and Soil page - www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadinfo.htm See also, EPA's web site - www.epa.gov/lead
5. What About Carpet?
In recent years, a number of consumers have associated a
variety of symptoms with the installation of new carpet. To eliminate carpet
emissions, you can replace energy guzzling incandescent lights with energy
efficient Sanibulb™ Air Sanitizing,
Purifying & Deodorizing CFL Bulbs which will destroy indoor air
pollutants while saving you money. In addition, you can use Smelleze™ Carpet Deodorizer
Powder to eliminate carpet odors.
6. When Building a New Home
Building a new home provides the opportunity for preventing
indoor air problems. However, it can result in exposure to higher levels of
indoor air contaminants if careful attention is not given to potential
pollution sources and the air exchange rate.
Express your concerns about indoor air quality to your
architect or builder and enlist his or her cooperation in taking measures to
provide good indoor air quality. Talk both about purchasing building materials
and furnishings that are low-emitting and about providing an adequate amount of
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and
Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a ventilation rate of 0.35 ach
(air changes per hour) for new homes, and some new homes are built to even
tighter specifications. Particular care should be given in such homes to
preventing the build-up of indoor air pollutants to high levels.
Here are a few important actions that can make a difference:
There are many actions a homeowner can take to select
products that will prevent indoor air problems from occurring - a couple of
them are mentioned here. First, use exterior-grade pressed wood products made
with phenol-formaldehyde resin in floors, cabinetry, and wall surfaces. Or, as
an alternative, consider using solid wood products. Secondly, if you plan to
install wall-to-wall carpet on concrete in contact with the ground, especially
concrete in basements, make sure that an effective moisture barrier is
installed prior to installing the carpet. Do not permanently adhere carpet to
concrete with adhesives so that the carpet can be removed if it becomes wet. Thirdly,
we recommend using the multi-tasking Sanibulb™ to sanitize, purify and deodorize the air harnessing the power of light while
saving energy and reducing pollution.
7. Do You Suspect Your Office has an Indoor
Indoor air quality problems are not limited to homes. In
fact, many office and commercial buildings have significant air pollution
sources which can result from many sources. Firstly, this could result from
biological contamination caused by living organisms such as bacteria, viruses,
mold, pollen, dust mites and insect droppings that accumulate in ducts,
carpeting, insulation and drains. Secondly, it can be caused by volatile
organic compound (VOC) and chemical emissions resulting from the use of
products such as cleaners, disinfectants, perfumes, air fresheners, hair
sprays, cigarettes, insecticides, paint, carpets, adhesives, laminated
furniture, gas, kerosene and coal. Thirdly, equipment such as central heating
and cooling systems, humidification devices, furnaces, space heaters, printers,
copy machines and various manufacturing processes can also emit noxious
chemical and particulate contaminants. Lastly, outdoor sources such as radon,
pesticides, and outdoor air pollution can also be a significant contributor to
indoor air pollution. Since people generally have less control over the indoor
environment at work than they do in their homes, there has been an increase in
the incidence of reported health problems.
A number of well-identified illnesses, such as Legionnaires'
disease, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever, have been
directly traced to specific building problems. These are called
building-related illnesses. Most of these diseases can be treated,
nevertheless, some pose serious risks.
Sometimes, however, building occupants experience symptoms
that do not fit the pattern of any particular illness and are difficult to
trace to any specific source. This phenomenon has been labeled sick building
syndrome. People may complain of one or more of the following symptoms: dry or
burning mucous membranes in the nose, eyes, and throat; sneezing; stuffy or
runny nose; fatigue or lethargy; headache; dizziness; nausea; irritability and
forgetfulness. Poor lighting, noise, vibration, thermal discomfort, and
psychological stress may also cause, or contribute to, these symptoms.
There is no single manner in which these health problems
appear. In some cases, problems begin as workers enter their offices and
diminish as workers leave; other times, symptoms continue until the illness is
treated. Sometimes there are outbreaks of illness among many workers in a
single building; in other cases, health symptoms show up only in individual
In the opinion of some World Health Organization experts, up
to 30 percent of new or remodeled commercial buildings may have unusually high
rates of health and comfort complaints from occupants that may potentially be
related to indoor air quality.
What Causes Problems?
Three major reasons for poor indoor air quality in office
buildings are the presence of indoor air pollution sources; poorly designed,
maintained, or operated ventilation systems; and uses of the building that were
unanticipated or poorly planned for when the building was designed or
Sources of Office Air Pollution
As with homes, the most important factor influencing indoor
air quality is the presence of pollutant sources. Commonly found office
pollutants and their sources include environmental tobacco smoke; asbestos from
insulating and fire-retardant building supplies; formaldehyde from pressed wood
products; other organics from building materials, carpet, and other office
furnishings, cleaning materials and activities, restroom air fresheners,
paints, adhesives, copying machines, and photography and print shops;
biological contaminants from dirty ventilation systems or water-damaged walls,
ceilings, and carpets; and pesticides from pest management practices.
Mechanical ventilation systems in large buildings are
designed and operated not only to heat and cool the air, but also to draw in
and circulate outdoor air. If they are poorly designed, operated, or
maintained, however, ventilation systems can contribute to indoor air problems
in several ways.
For example, problems arise when, in an effort to save
energy, ventilation systems are not used to bring in adequate amounts of
outdoor air. Inadequate ventilation also occurs if the air supply and return
vents within each room are blocked or placed in such a way that outdoor air
does not actually reach the breathing zone of building occupants. Improperly
located outdoor air intake vents can also bring in air contaminated with
automobile and truck exhaust, boiler emissions, fumes from dumpsters, or air
vented from restrooms. Finally, ventilation systems can be a source of indoor
pollution themselves by spreading biological contaminants that have multiplied in
cooling towers, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, or the inside
surfaces of ventilation duct work.
Use of the Building
Indoor air pollutants can be circulated from portions of the
building used for specialized purposes, such as restaurants, print shops, and
dry-cleaning stores, into offices in the same building. Carbon monoxide and
other components of automobile exhaust can be drawn from underground parking
garages through stairwells and elevator shafts into office spaces.
In addition, buildings originally designed for one purpose
may end up being converted to use as office space. If not properly modified
during building renovations, the room partitions and ventilation system can
contribute to indoor air quality problems by restricting air recirculation or
by providing an inadequate supply of outdoor air.
What to Do if You Suspect a Problem
If you or others at your office are experiencing health or
comfort problems that you suspect may be caused by indoor air pollution, we
recommend replacing energy guzzling incandescent lights with multi-tasking SaniBulbs™ which sanitizes, purifies and deodorizers the air harnessing the power of light
while saving energy and reducing pollution! Furthermore, you can work with your
building manager to investigate and eliminate the contaminant sources.
8. Glossary of Terms
Acid Aerosol: Acidic liquid or solid particles that are
small enough to become airborne. High concentrations of acid aerosols can be
irritating to the lungs and have been associated with some respiratory
diseases, such as asthma.
Animal Dander: Tiny scales of animal skin.
Allergen: A substance capable of causing an allergic
reaction because of an individual's sensitivity to that substance.
Allergic Rhinitis: Inflammation of the mucous membranes in
the nose that is caused by an allergic reaction.
Building-Related Illness: A discrete, identifiable disease
or illness that can be traced to a specific pollutant or source within a
building. (Contrast with "Sick building syndrome").
Chemical Sensitization: Evidence suggests that some people
may develop health problems characterized by effects such as dizziness, eye and
throat irritation, chest tightness, and nasal congestion that appear whenever
they are exposed to certain chemicals. People may react to even trace amounts
of chemicals to which they have become "sensitized."
Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS): Mixture of smoke from the
burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar and smoke exhaled by the smoker
(also secondhand smoke or passive smoking). See Smoke-free Homes Program
Fungi: Any of a group of parasitic lower plants that lack
chlorophyll, including molds and mildews. (see www.epa.gov/mold )
Humidifier Fever: A respiratory illness caused by exposure
to toxins from microorganisms found in wet or moist areas in humidifiers and
air conditioners. Also called air conditioner or ventilation fever.
Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis: A group of respiratory
diseases that cause inflammation of the lung (specifically granulomatous
cells). Most forms of hypersensitivity pneumonitis are caused by the inhalation
of organic dusts, including molds.
Organic Compounds: Chemicals that contain carbon. Volatile
organic compounds vaporize at room temperature and pressure. They are found in
many indoor sources, including many common household products and building
PicoCurie (pCi): A unit for measuring radioactivity, often
expressed as picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air.
Pressed Wood Products: A group of materials used in building
and furniture construction that are made from wood veneers, particles, or
fibers bonded together with an adhesive under heat and pressure.
Radon (Rn) and Radon Decay Products: Radon is a radioactive
gas formed in the decay of uranium. The radon decay products (also called radon
daughters or progeny) can be breathed into the lung where they continue to
release radiation as they further decay.
Sanitizing, Purifying & Deodorizing CFL Bulbs : Multi-tasking compact
fluorescent (CFL) lamp combined with state of the art electronic and nano
photocatalytic technology that results in sanitizing, purifying and deodorizing
the air harnessing the power of light while saving energy and reducing
Sick Building Syndrome: Term that refers to a set of
symptoms that affect some number of building occupants during the time they
spend in the building and diminish or go away during periods when they leave
the building. Cannot be traced to specific pollutants or sources within the
building. (Contrast with "Building related illness").
Ventilation Rate: The rate at which indoor air enters and
leaves a building. Expressed in one of two ways: the number of changes of
outdoor air per unit of time (air changes per hour, or "ach") or the
rate at which a volume of outdoor air enters per unit of time (cubic feet per
minute, or "cfm").
* Adapted from the EPA publication ‘The Inside Story: A
Guide to Indoor Air Quality’