Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution

  • Jane Q. Koenig


When the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, there was an assumption that controlling concentrations of serious wide-spread outdoor air pollutants such as the criteria pollutants and the hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) would protect the public from adverse effects of air pollution. Another early assumption was that blue collar workers were the exposed occupational population and that white collar workers were not subjected to harmful air pollutants on the job. However, sometime in the 1980s it became apparent that much of the exposure to the public from air pollutants occurred in the home and to workers from environments in office buildings. Workplaces with traditional air pollution exposures such as steel mills, saw mills, refineries and chemical plants had been targeted for regulation by the Occupational Health and Safely Act (OSHA) in the early 1970s. Indoor office buildings had not been included under OHSA and private homes contained totally unregulated atmospheres. In the late 1970s in conjunction with various problems with imported oil from OPEC countries, the US instigated recommendations for energy conservation which included constructing “tight” buildings. Buildings were built without operable windows and air exchange rates were reduced to save energy. Soon scientists and the public were hearing about the “sick building syndrome”. Of course it was not the building but rather the human occupants who were “sick”. All across the US clusters of office workers complained of a list of diverse and often subjective symptoms such as those listed in Table 15–1.


Volatile Organic Compound Allergy Clin Immunol Environmental Tobacco Smoke Indoor Radon Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Q. Koenig
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WashingtonUSA

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