The air inside your home or office may look clear and smell fine but still be making you sick. There are lots of ways dangerous substances can affect air safety, like formaldehyde gas that can leach out of pressed wood products, or volatile organic chemicals (VOC's) that can be released from new carpet or drying paint. There are also silent killers, like gas leaks from stoves, or radon gas, a radioactive gas that can enter your home from the soil under your home's foundation.
You may never encounter these hazards, but if they are present, and in concentrations that can hurt you, how would you know? A sore throat and watery eyes may be a sign of unhealthy air, but it might just mean that it's allergy season instead. The EPA has a valuable publication entitled The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Qualitythat can help you identify the most likely suspects. It also covers other indoor air related topics like environmental cigarette smoke, biological contaminants and the best ways to weatherize your home.
There aren't established indoor air quality standards for all of the chemicals and particulates that can cause problems with indoor air safety, but you can get information at the EPA's site that will give you a head start in developing strategies for keeping your home safer, like creating good ventilation, identifying mold problems and understanding the merits of installing an air filtration system. Armed with the right information, you can diagnose problems with the air quality in your home and know your rights when assessing air quality issues in your workplace.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Aerias. "IAQ Standards and Guidelines." Undated. 3/31/10.http://www.aerias.org/DesktopModules/ArticleDetail.aspx?articleId=149
- CPSC. The Inside Story - A Guide to Indoor Air Quality." Undated. 4/1/10.http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/450.html#Intro2
- CPSC." Biological Pollutants in Your Home." Undated. 3/31/10.http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/425.html
- EPA. "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home." 9/18/08. 3/31/10.http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html
- EPA. "A Citizen's Guide to Radon." 3/10/10. 3/31/10.http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html
- EPA. "A Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home." 11/20/09. 3/31/10.http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airclean.html
- EPA. "Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home." 8/09. 3/31/10.http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airclean.html
- EPA. "How Does Radon Get Into Your Home?" Undated. 4/1/10.http://iaq.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/iaq.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=3087&p_created=1178116298&p_sid=BbmNuqYj&p_accessibility=0&p_redirect=&p_srch=&p_lva=&p_sp=cF9zcmNoPSZwX3NvcnRfYnk9JnBfZ3JpZHNvcnQ9JnBfcm93X2NudD0yMzcsMjM3JnBfcHJvZHM9JnBfY2F0cz0mcF9wdj0mcF9jdj0mcF9zZWFyY2hfdHlwZT1hbnN3ZXJzLnNlYXJjaF9ubCZwX3BhZ2U9MQ!!&p_li=&p_topview=1
- EPA. "Indoor Air Quality." Undated. 3/28/10.http://www.epa.gov/iaq/
- EPA. "Introduction to Indoor Air Quality." 10/27/09. 3/31/10.http://www.epa.gov/iaq/ia-intro.html
- EPA. "Sick Building Syndrome." 2/20/08. 3/31/10.http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/sbs.html
- EPA."IAQ House." 11/5/09. 4/1/10.http://www.epa.gov/iaq/iaqhouse.html
- Horton, Jennifer. "How Indoor Air Pollution Works." Undated. 3/28/10.https://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/tips/indoor-air-pollution.htm
- MDH. "Freedom to Breathe." 8/20/09. 4/1/10.http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/mciaa/ftb/f2bgeneral.pdf
- MegaLaw. "Indoor Air Quality." 2004. 4/1/10.http://www.megalaw.com/top/airquality.php#govair
- OSHA. "Sec. 5. Duties." Undated. 4/1/10.http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=OSHACT&p_id=3359
- OSHA. "State Occupational Safety and Health Plans." 3/15/10. 4/1/10.http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html
- University of Missouri, Columbia. "Indoor Air Quality. 10/27/08. 4/1/10.http://extension.missouri.edu/edninfo/airquality.htm