Air Pollution Indoor
Air Pollution Indoors – Following A Few Simple Steps Can Help Improve Indoor Air Quality

Air Pollution Indoors – Following A Few Simple Steps Can Help Improve Indoor Air Quality

Eighty-seven percent of American homeowners are not aware that pollution may be worse inside their homes than outdoors, according to a survey released in May 1999 by the American Lung Association. The survey was funded by 3M as part of an ongoing educational partnership with the American Lung Association and its Health House Project.

Because most Americans are not aware of the dangers of poor indoor air, millions may mistakenly believe they can avoid breathing unhealthy air simply by staying inside their homes and offices during "Code Red" days — days rated as unhealthy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Outdoor Air Quality Index. In fact, more than 6 in 10 of the Americans surveyed would limit outdoor activities during such “Code Red” days.

The American Lung Association survey identified the need for more public education about the potential dangers of indoor air. According to the EPA, the levels of indoor air pollutants may be two to five times higher — and occasionally more than 100 times higher—than outdoor levels. EPA research also indicates that Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors and indoor air pollution is one of the five most urgent environmental risks to public health.

“With all the attention surrounding dangerous levels of smog, ozone and other pollutants in the air we breathe outdoors, many lose sight of the fact that many of these same pollutants — as well as pollen and other allergens — can easily find their way indoors,” said Mark LaLiberte, building expert and technical advisor to the American Lung Association Health House Project. “Fortunately, there are numerous easy and relatively inexpensive steps homeowners can take to improve air quality in the home.”

As part of their ongoing educational partnership, 3M and the American Lung Association Health House Project are offering a booklet, “A Guide for Creating a Healthier Home,” filled with dozens of tips to reduce exposure to pollutants and allergens. To obtain a copy free-of-charge, call 1-800-388-3458 or send an e-mail with your name and mailing address to: Here are some tips from the booklet:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in the home to detect high levels of this odorless and potentially deadly gas. According to the American Lung Association survey, only 37 percent of American homeowners have a carbon monoxide detector in their home.
  • Replace furnace filters on a regular basis—ideally every two to three months. According to this survey, 35 percent of American homeowners fail to replace their filters every two to three months—and 9 percent have never replaced the filter in the furnace!

This survey also found that, although 77 percent of American homeowners have a forced air heating or central air conditioning system, less than one in eight of these homeowners purchases a high efficiency filter for their furnace. High efficiency filters, such as Filtrete filters from 3M, not only protect the furnace, but also contain electrostatically charged fibers which capture up to 30 times more pollen, pet dander, smoke and other potentially harmful particles than standard fiberglass filters.

For other news editorials, see; air purification.

Author Notes:

Mark Hindley contributes and publishes news editorial to  Learn more about air health and purifiers, plus allergies, molds and asthma and what to do about it.

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