Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How do indoor air quality standards keep us safe?

Whether at work or at home, indoor air quality is something everyone deserves.
Whether at work or at home, indoor air quality is something everyone deserves.
Geir Pettersen/Digital Vision/Getty Images

You may take the air you're breathing for granted, but being able to fill your lungs with safe, clean air is vital to your good health. To promote air safety and protect indoor air quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established some indoor air quality guidelines you should know about. Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, and harmful indoor air is one of the top five environmental risk factors people face. Following EPA recommendations is an important step you can take to keep your home and even your work environment safer.

The EPA isn't alone in helping to promote clean indoor air. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); many agencies on the state level; and independent organizations like the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and others also have indoor air quality standards, guidelines and recommendations about how to keep indoor air safer.

There are a number of things to consider when recognizing potential threats to the air inside our homes and businesses. From volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint and carpet to radon gas escaping from underground, some threats can be dealt with by regulating the manufacture of products, like removing asbestos from wide circulation, while overseeing safe levels for other potential indoor air pollutants is left to the homeowner or business owner.