We usually think of air pollution as being outdoors, but the air in your house or office could also be polluted. Sources of indoor pollution include:
- Biological contaminants like mold and pollen
- Tobacco smoke
- Household products and pesticides
- Gases such as radon and carbon monoxide
- Materials used in the building such as asbestos, formaldehyde and lead
Sick building syndrome occurs when several people are affected, but no specific source of the illness is found. Indoor air quality problems usually only cause discomfort, and most people feel better as soon as they eliminate the source of the pollution. However, some pollutants can cause diseases that show up much later, such as respiratory diseases or cancer. Making sure that your building is well-ventilated and eliminating pollutants can improve the quality of your indoor air.
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.
In addition, people who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods of time are often those most susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution. Such groups include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.