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Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.

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Indoor Air Pollution

Posted by Marybeth Dunn, MPH


Americans spend the majority of our time indoors, whether it's in our home, school or office.

Yet indoor air is estimated to be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth largest environmental threat to our country. It has been associated with a range of symptoms including headache, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Specific diseases such as Legionnaires' disease, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever have been directly traced to specific building-based problems. In addition, exposure to toxins such as asbestos and radon may not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to cancer years after exposure.

Other building-related concerns that can affect health include poor lighting, excessive noise and heating and cooling issues.

How is it that the buildings we spend the most time in -- raising our families, learning, earning a living -- can be the most toxic? What can we do about it, what sort of recourse do we have? Please read on, as the contributors to this month's Environmental Health Policy Institute aim to answer those questions.


Responses

School Children: The Forgotten Issue -- Preventing Exposures Boosts Achievement
Claire Barnett
Toxins in the Built Environment
Ellen Leroy-Reed, LEED AP BD+C
Home…Is Where the Pollution Is?
Rebecca Meuninck
Healthy Air at Home
Brenda Olsen, RN
Healthy Homes and Health Reform
Margaret Reid, RN, BA and Lisa Conley, JD, MPH
Healthy Schools Spell Success
Lynn Ringenberg, MD
The views expressed in these essays are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Comments

Albert Donnay, www.mcsrr.org said ..

Great series, but how come none of these 6 articles mention carbon monoxide poisoning or recommend the installation of CO alarms to detect it? Readers should know that CO exposures are the leading cause of unintentional toxic poisonings and deaths in America every year according to CDC. Neonates and children are more vulnerable than adults due to their smaller body size. Among the most common sources of CO exposure indoors are unvented gas ovens, ranges, water heaters, furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces, portable generators, candles, incense and [as I thank Barbara Olsen for warning against] idling vehicles in attached garages and smoking.

June 9, 2013

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