According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside the average home is up to five times more polluted than the air outside. Results from in-home air tests across North America support this government finding. Nearly every home (96%) had at least one indoor air quality problem:
86% had high levels of particles and bioaerosols like dust, pollen and viruses
71% were filled with odors and potentially harmful chemicals and gases
An EPA economic analysis of repairs performed at an elementary school showed that if $370 per year over 22 years (a total of $8,140) had been spent on preventive maintenance, $1.5 million in repairs could have been avoided.
According to the American Lung Association, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) aka “secondhand smoke,” a major indoor air pollutant, contains about 4,000 chemicals, including 200 known poisons, such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, as well as 43 carcinogens.
According to the EPA, Women who work in the home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than women who work outside the home.
Biological pollutants, including molds, bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust mites, and animal dander promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost from work and school. In office buildings, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems are frequent sources of biological substances that are inhaled, leading to breathing problems.
To help prevent growth of mold when humidity is high, make sure bathrooms, kitchens and basements have good air circulation and are cleaned often. The basement in particular may need a dehumidifier. And remember, the water in the dehumidifier must be emptied and the container cleaned often to prevent forming mildew.
An estimated one out of every 15 homes in the United States has radon levels above 4pci/L, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency-recommended action level. Radon, a naturally occurring gas, can enter the home through cracks in the foundation floor and walls, drains, and other openings. Indoor radon exposure is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer. A recent report by the National Research Council estimates that radon is responsible for between 15,000 and 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States.
Formaldehyde is a common chemical, found primarily in adhesive or bonding agents for many materials found in households and offices, including carpets, upholstery, particle board, and plywood paneling. The release of formaldehyde into the air may cause health problems, such as coughing; eye, nose, and throat irritation; skin rashes, headaches, and dizziness.
Many asbestos products are found in the home, including roofing and flooring materials, wall and pipe insulation, spackling compounds, cement, coating materials, heating equipment, and acoustic insulation. These products are a potential problem indoors only if the asbestos-containing material is disturbed and becomes airborne, or when it disintegrates with age.
Heating systems and other home appliances using gas, fuel, or wood, can produce several combustion products, of which the most dangerous are carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Fuel burning stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, water heaters, and dryers are all combustion appliances.
Household cleaning agents, personal care products, pesticides, paints, hobby products, and solvents may be sources of hundreds of potentially harmful chemicals. Such components in many household and personal care products can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, eye/skin/respiratory tract irritation, and cancer.