The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released a 1998 report titled, “The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality.” The report states that select indoor air pollutants can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air and that the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.
The EPA had said: “In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other 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.”(1)
In 1989, the EPA had prepared another report for the U.S. Congress on indoor air pollution titled “Assessment and Control of Indoor Air Pollution.” The report states that this indoor pollution creates sick building syndrome, and building related illnesses such as neurotoxicity, Legionnaire’s disease, or serious infectious or allergic diseases and even death.
The EPA report describes these significant risks to health caused by indoor air pollution, as follows:
“Health effects from indoor air pollution cover the range of acute and chronic effects and include eye, nose, and throat irritation, respiratory effects, neurotoxicity, kidney and liver effects, heart functions, allergic and infectious diseases, developmental effects, mutagenicity, and carcinogenicity.
Building sicknesses, such as sick building syndrome, building related illness, and multiple chemical sensitivity are issues of potentially great significance but are poorly understood. Additive or synergistic effects from pollutant mixtures, where concentrations of each individual compound are below its known health effect threshold, may help to explain some sick building syndrome complaints.
Biological contaminants are a principal cause of building related illness and can be the principal problem in some buildings. Building related illness can result in death, as in Legionnaire’s disease, or serious infectious or allergic diseases.
The population health risks posed by exposure to indoor air pollutants appear to be significantly greater than the health risks posed by some of the environmental problems that receive the most public concern and governmental funding, including
hazardous and non-hazardous waste sites, and contaminated sludge.
It is known that microbial contamination can cause significant damage to buildings and equipment, and there is anecdotal evidence that damage can be so severe as to make a building unfit for human occupation.”(2)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality. 1988.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Report for Congress on Indoor Air Quality. Volume II: Assessment and Control of Indoor Air Pollution. August 1989