Did you know?
- The average American spends up to 90% of their time indoors.
- Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers.
- Common indoor asthma triggers include mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke, and pet hair.
- Between 200,000 and 1,000,000 children with asthma have their condition made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke each year.
- Poor indoor air quality costs the US economy more than $10 billion a year by worsening illnesses and allergenic symptoms, and reducing productivity.
A changing climate will make common indoor air pollutants more widespread and more severe through increased extreme weather events and home weatherization. An increase in extreme temperatures and precipitation can lead to increased humidity and mold growth indoors, and more frequent droughts and wildfires can result in exposure to more smoke, dust, VOCs, CO, and NO2. Weatherizing homes by sealing leaks and adding insulation helps to save energy and money, but it also reduces ventilation that removes indoor air pollutants.
Common indoor air pollutants and their sources include:
- Fireplaces, space heaters, and wood and gas stoves emit carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2),
- Air fresheners, paints, cleaning supplies, and furniture emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs),
- Radon-contaminated soil and water emit radon,
- Increased humidity, leaks, and excess moisture promote mold growth,
- Pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals host dust mites,
- Cigarettes emit secondhand smoke, and
- Cats and dogs shed pet dander.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Steps you can take to maintain healthy indoor air quality include improving ventilation, controlling moisture levels, reducing pollutants, and increasing energy efficiency.
- Learn more about how to reduce indoor pollution sources, improve ventilation, and lower the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in EPA’s Improving Indoor Air Quality.
- Reduce exposure to asthma triggers by learning how to discover them.
- Discover the most important ways to protect your home from mold by touring the EPA’s Mold House.
- Test for radon in your home.
- Keep your home secondhand smoke-free.
- Take steps to reduce your exposure to carbon monoxide.
- If you are in the market for a new home, build or look for a home that is Indoor airPLUS certified to minimize exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants.
- Explore the Health Heroes infographic created by NEEF and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to discover more preventative health and health symptom-reducing measures you can take at home through energy upgrades.
- CDC. 2015. “Indoor Environmental Quality”. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/
- CPSC. 2016. “The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality”. Accessed January 13. http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Guides/Home/The-Inside-Story-A-Guide-to-Indoor-Air-Quality/
- EPA. 2015. “Asthma Triggers: Gain Control”. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.epa.gov/asthma/asthma-triggers-gain-control
- EPA. 2015. “Challenges of Climate Readiness and Indoor Air Quality”. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/challenges-climate-readiness-and-indoor-air-quality
- EPA. 2015. “Health Risks of Radon”. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon
- EPA. 2015. “Improving Indoor Air Quality”. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/improving-indoor-air-quality
- EPA. 2015. “Take Action for Climate Readiness and Indoor Air Quality”. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/take-action-climate-readiness-and-indoor-air-quality
- IOM. 2011. “Climate Change, the Indoor Environment, and Health”. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://iom.nationalacademies.org/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2011/Climate-Change-the-Indoor-Environment-and-Health/Climate%20Change%202011%20Report%20Brief.pdf
- Potera, Carol. 2011. “Climate Change Impacts Indoor Environment”. Environmental Health Perspectives. 119(9), a382. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3230414/