Indoor air pollution: a public health perspective

Science  01 Jul 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4605, pp. 9-17
DOI: 10.1126/science.6857273


Although official efforts to control air pollution have traditionally focused on outdoor air, it is now apparent that elevated contaminant concentrations are common inside some private and public buildings. Concerns about potential public health problems due to indoor air pollution are based on evidence that urban residents typically spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, concentrations of some contaminants are higher indoors than outdoors, and for some pollutants personal exposures are not characterized adequately by outdoor measurements. Among the more important indoor contaminants associated with health or irritation effects are passive tobacco smoke, radon decay products, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, asbestos fibers, microorganisms, and aeroallergens. Efforts to assess health risks associated with indoor air pollution are limited by insufficient information about the number of people exposed, the pattern and severity of exposures, and the health consequences of exposures. An overall strategy should be developed to investigate indoor exposures, health effects, control options, and public policy alternatives.

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