Mark Knight Jr.

MarkKnight Jr.

SustainableDevelopment Engineering ENV 6510


IndoorAir Pollutant


Indoor air quality (IQA) is agrowing concern that needs to be addressed as there are numerouspollutants existing inside people’s homes, which adversely affectour health. Many laws have been passed to protect ambient air, butnot for IAQ. Therefore, homeowners must take action to protectthemselves from these dangerous pollutants. Identifying some of themost common pollutants found indoors and pinpointing their cause willbe the objective of this report while additionally finding solutionsto eliminate or dilute them.

As stated before there aremany different pollutants found indoors and many factors come intoplay on which ones exist. For example, homes built in a particulartime periods may have hazardous material as standards have changedover time. Human behavioral patterns cause variations in thepollutants as well. Also, developing countries will have completelydifferent pollutants than that of the developed world. Solutions tothese pollutions exist mainly this report will focus on sourcereduction and ventilation, but some new innovative designs.


  • Source reduction is the primary way to combat indoor air pollution

    • This involves behavioral changes

    • Education on particular hazardous building materials

  • Proper ventilation is the second most effective method in pollution reduction

    • This does not eliminate pollutants, but instead dilutes them with fresh air


Currently, despite imminentdanger from pollutants in indoor air in many homesteads today, thereare no enforceable laws to regulate it like there is for ambient air.In many countries there are various policies, which have been enactedto prevent air pollution in public places and the atmosphere throughvarious acts (Bas, 2004). For instance, in the USA, Clean Air Actwhich has been enacted and enforced by the Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) provides a guideline on how to handle and treatpollutants and pollution by organizations and individuals in publicplaces. Thus, to deal with the public pollution and not what happensat homes is a great irony as Indoor air quality is a major factor inhuman health and therefore, laws should be proposed to enforce theresponsibility of safeguarding people from indoor pollutants.

To assume that IAQ is avoluntary right of the homeowner as the government does not want toregulate our homes is to sanction any behavior that an individualdoes in his/her home as rightful irrespective of whether it is good,harmful or not, which has not always been the case in law. Inaddition, due to ideology that every individual has the right to doanything he/she want in their homesteads, research funding for indoorair takes a back seat to ambient air. This lack of law regulationsand funding is a concern as many indoor air pollutants have beenlinked to diseases that can lead to death. Therefore, the peoplethemselves must take the actions to protect themselves from the harmsof indoor air pollution.

With rise on technology whichhas made homes be like offices, people have started to spend numeroushours indoors. In the United States, it is estimated that citizensspend about 85% of their time indoors (European Joint ResearchCommission, 1997). Many have come to think of their homes as a safehaven for the outside world free from pollution, but the hiddenhazards found within are detrimental to their health. Homes have evenbecome great contributors to the environmental pollutants due to thelaxity that is extended by loopholes in the laws under the bill ofrights.

This report will prioritizethe hazards found in the air that we breathe inside our own homesthe threats to our health include toxic materials, volatile organiccompounds, particles, bacteria and other pollutants. As most peoplespend the majority of their lives indoors and these hazards have timeto accumulate in our bodies and therefore, quality indoor air isessential to a health life. Improving the standards of living hastaken not only an economical perspective, but also a health one, thuswhy there is a need to quickly handle the situation of indoor airbecause failure to do so will turn homes into early senders of peopleto the grave instead of providing solace.

Jalaei and Jrade (2015)indicated that averagely 6.25 million people died premature deaths asa result of air pollution which is alarming compared to those thatdied as a result of diabetes, HIV and accidents. Of this number,indoor air pollution was responsible for 4million deaths in thirdworld countries. This is indeed saddening when this is an era whereinformation can quickly be shared and people respond swiftly yet thathas not been taken into consideration. Air quality affects developingcountries primarily, but it takes its toll on developed ones as well. For example, in Europe the life span of individuals has been reduceaveragely by a single year. Moreover, World Health Organization hasindicated that people who live in urban areas in about 80% breathepolluted air (Jalaei&amp Jrade, 2015).Within the USA the Clean Air Act gives the EPA the right to setnational air quality standards for specific pollutants. This was donein an effort to curb the pollutants that were being produced byorganizations in order to protect the immediate people who areemployees and the public and also in accordance with environmentalsustainability visions of the world(Conner, 2009).The EPA has established enforceable standards for six common airpollutants that may impact large populations or the environment.These six air pollutants are termed criteria air pollutants (EuropeanJoint Research Commission, 1997):

  1. Particle matter (PM),

  2. Carbon monoxide (CO),

  3. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2),

  4. Sulfur dioxide (SO2),

  5. Ozone (O3)

  6. Lead (Pb).

Concentration standards onthese pollutants are enforced for ambient air conditions andemissions from industrial and localized producers. Only indoor airquality is viewed as a voluntary right of the homeowner for the factthat the government does not want to get involved in regulating ourhomes. Therefore, the people themselves must take the actions toprotect themselves from the harms of indoor air pollution.

There are many differentindoor air pollutants that can be caused by an individual and varywidely depending on the living conditions of people. For instance, ahome that uses lead made products at a high rate will have differentpollutant exposures than that one where its family members smoke intheir homes. As stated above, indoor air pollutants kill numerouspeople every year primarily in developing countries, but affects thedeveloped world as well, just in different ways(Bruce,Perez-Padilla, &amp Albalak, 2000).

For example, a source ofpollutants in urban areas may arrive from cleaning products, faultyheating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, house holdfurniture, paint, instillation, and etc. Indoor carbon monoxide is amajor pollutant in the United States and other developed countries aswell. While, indoor air pollutants in rural or developing areasoriginate from human waste and primarily incomplete combustion ofbiomass materials or coal for heating, lighting, and cooking it’sestimated that around 3 billion people still use fossil fuels forthese purposes (European Joint Research Commission, 1997). Manypeople are simply unaware of the presents of these pollutants and thehealth hazards they present.

By simply identifying thesources and listing the pollutants does not protect those who areaffected. This proves that apart from being knowledgeable, there is aneed to act or implement policies that will protect individuals fromexposing themselves to the risks posed by these indoor pollutantswhile at home. Some sources can be identified and avoided alltogether. In the case of furniture or paints one can just simplyavoid toxic or hazardous materials by being educated on the ones thatcontain them. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),has been on the forefront to do anything, it can to protect employeesfrom dangers caused by some of these pollutants in variousorganization (Fairs,2009). It wouldbe wise to emulate some of its standards that are usually appliedwhere individuals are likely to be exposed or deal with hazardoussubstances. For instance, In the case of clean materials, one caneliminated the pollutants by using alternative green solvents(Fairs, 2009).These changes can remove some pollutants that exist in developedhomes. Such actions are called behavioral changes and can be simple,or more difficult to some, to apply to our life.

However, the difficult of atask or adjustment should not be an impediment to someone’s desireto protect themselves from pollutants. In certain situations onecannot simply change their behavior, like in developing areas theirfuel source is a necessary action for survival and cannot be changed.This is true, especially in some states in the Middle East and Africawhere some governmental regimes have hindered innovation and hinderedpeople from adopting developed countries’ strategies of fuel(Bruce et al., 2000).

Nevertheless, solutions thatcannot be made by a behavior changes can be obtained by newinnovative designs which should be advocated by various governmentsas they are the custodians of people. These innovative designsinclude efficient stove designs and waste management improvements,which can help to minimize the amount of produced pollutants(Yudelson, 2009).For burning fuel, there should be adoption of strategies thatincrease better ventilation and complete combustion, an initiative,which reduces the amount of pollutant that are released to the air.For waste management, people should learn behaviors that encourageproper disposal and use of strategies that encourage the utilizationof biodegradable products. Moreover, recycling plants should besponsored to help in waste management (Yudelson,2009).


Effects of indoor airpollution can vary widely, being short term or long term. They can beminimal such as irritation of eyes, throat, or nose while some moreserious as death from respiratory failure, cancer, or heart disease.The best way to combat indoor air pollution is by source reduction.This is where an individual notices that a particular product isharmful or has some high content of pollutants and voluntary stops topurchase or to use it in their homes. This method has been adopted bymany countries where they have replaced the use of some fossil fuelsin some organization with clean and green energy(Fairs, 2009).

Moreover, all over the worldthere is an attempt by governments to source for environmental safeenergy as gasoline has not only been related with environmentalpollutant, but also as a facilitator of global warming, hence climatechange which has drastically been correlated with receding ice caps,rise in sea level, floods, desertification and high temperaturesamong other things (Fairs,2009). Moreover,individuals should also increase the ventilation levels in theirhomes. This has been adopted in many organizations as it is arequirement of OSHA(Bas, 2004). It ensuresthat people are able to breathe fresh air as there is increasedcirculation.

Thus, when individuals adoptproper ventilation in their homes there is highly likelihood that thelevel of pollutant concentration in indoor air will be reduced asthere will be increase air circulation. Currently, many buildingstoday are incorporating new ventilation designs as a growing concernfor IAQ is now arising. Leadership in Energy &amp EnvironmentalDesign (LEED) certified buildings are the forerunners in improvisingsource reduction and proper ventilation(White, 2016).

As stated ambient air qualityhas many regulations in place by the EPA. Table xxx displays the sixleading pollutants to ambient air. This table is relevant to Indoorair as many of these chemicals affect Indoor air the same.

National Air Quality Standards for the Six Criteria Ambient Air Pollutants &amp there Adverse Effects on Human Health (primary standards to protect human health)


Criteria Pollutant

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NNAQS)

Adverse Effects on Health


Particle Matter (PM10)



(24 hr. avg)

Premature Death

Particle Matter (PM10)



(24 hr. avg)



(Annual avg.)


Carbon Monoxide (CO)



(8 hr. avg.)

Decreased Lung Function



(1 hr. avg.)


Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)



(1 hr. avg.)

Increase Susceptibility to Respiratory Infections



(Annual avg.)


Sulfur dioxide (SO2)



(1 hr. avg.

Aggravation of Respiratory and Cardiovascular Diseases


Ozone (O3)



(8 hr. avg.)

Increase Frequency and Severity of Respiratory Symptoms


Lead (Pb)



(Quarterly avg.)

Effects on the Nervous System

Table(xx) from European Joint Research Commission.

When a HVAC system, which isfurther discussed later, is malfunctioning outside pollutants caninfiltrate the home. Therefore, one is constantly breathing in thepollutants. Depending on location such as China, parts in California,India, and other locations the outside air quality is very poor andif the HVAC system does not work properly then people have noprotection from pollutants at all.

Inthe proceeding section the report will cover the some of the mostcommon pollutants found inside homes. This will cover the source ofthe pollutant, the effects of the pollutant, and some solutions tothem. Solutions are primarily to source reduction, but also newinnovative designs.

  1. Asbestos

Asbestos,commonly used as Insulation,were prevalent in construction during the years 1930-1970 (EuropeanJoint Research Commission, 1997). Asbestos fibers which are presentin the air can be easily carried and inhaled by people and settle inthe lungs where they can cause asbestosis and change the inner liningof pleura. This condition can result in reduced respiratoryfunctioning and eventually death in long term. Moreover, asbestosincreases the risk of mesothelioma and cancer. Furthermore, peopleexposed to these compounds will have low immune system.

Common sources of Asbestos arelisted in Table XXX. Solutions to fight against asbestos includeeither sealing and enclosing or removal of the material. By sealingor enclosing the materiel the hazardous particles of asbestos arecontained and unable to be absorbed. Removal may be necessary andmany precautions must be made to ensure asbestos fibers do notpenetrate the human body (European Joint Research Commission, 1997).

Sources of Asbestos


Attic Insulation


Wall Insulation


Pipe Insulation


Vinyl flooring


Soundproofing Insulation


Roofing, shingles and siding


Ceilings and walls





  1. Building products/Home furniture

Some building and homeproducts that are used contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs),which are hazardous to human health and are prevalent in wax,cosmetics, varnishes, paints, insulation, sealants, plywood,furniture, carpets, flooring, degreasing and cleaning supplies(European Joint Research Commission, 1997). These VOCs are usuallyhigher indoors than outdoors in great quantities, thus, they increasethe risk of people who stay in long hours at home to various healthhazards regardless whether it is rural or in urban (European JointResearch Commission, 1997). Some of health effects that areassociated with VOCs include, but are not limited to cancer throat,nose, and nose irritation damage to central nervous system, kidneyand liver and nausea, headache and loss of coordination amongothers. An individual who has been exposed to adverse levels of VOCsmight show symptoms such as dizziness, epistaxis, emesis, fatigue,dyspnea, headache, nose and throat irritation(Poulhet, Dusanter, Crunaire, Locoge, Kaluzny, &amp Coddeville,2015).

These VOCs ca be combated bysource reduction and proper ventilation. Source reduction is an easyplace to start and the main two chemicals to look out for and avoidare benzene and formaldehyde, which are related to almost 60% of thecancer risk within urban areas (European Joint Research Commission,1997). The Clean Air Act allowed regulations and limits on manmadeVOCs emissions. This allows the EPA to put standards on manufacturesand their products items that have high concentrations of VOCs arerequired to have a warning label of the said chemical, theirconcentrations, and their effects on human health. Many materialsalso indicate that they are certified as having low VOC content(European Joint Research Commission, 1997). In avoiding the productsthat have high VOC concentrations, one can help to minimize theirrisk.

Another contributor to VOCsare household cleaners. Ovencleaners and drain de-cloggers are dangerous as they contain lye.Dishwasher cleaners contain chlorine, the leading cause of childhoodpoisoning. And Benzene is found in many furniture cleaners. By usingalternative cleaners such as baking sodas, white vinegar, lemonjuice, club soda, borax, olive oil wood furniture, and castile soapcan replace many everyday household chemical cleaners (EuropeanJoint Research Commission, 1997).In some cases VOC containing materials are integrated into the homeand would be too costly to remove or replace. Moreover, an individualcan adopt ventilation as is a good way to dilute VOC concentrationsin the indoor environment. Furthermore, one should carefully followthe guides and precautions that have been detailed in any productthat has VOCs compounds.

  1. Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbonmonoxide is a common indoor air pollutant that is produced by burningcarbon based materials or fuel. An individual can be exposed to CO byusing a light inside a tent, heater, or stove that utilities propanehouse fires blocked or clogged chimneys running vehicles in garageor enclosed spaces running generators indoors or outside widows andfrom the use of grills to heat homes (EuropeanJoint Research Commission, 1997).

Peoplewho expose themselves to indoor CO at home are at risk of short-termsymptoms, which include headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach aches,vomiting, chest pain, confusion, and in large concentrations onebecomes unconscious and subsequently, dies. Long-term symptomsinclude respiratory failure and heart diseases, while infants and theelderly are at higher risk. According to the Center of Diseasecontrol (CDC), about 20,000 Americans have sought emergency roomhealthcare services, 4,000 hospitalize, and 400 death are caused byunintentional CO poisoning.

COmonitors are becoming commonplace in urban homes and can warnhomeowners of deathly high concentration, some even monitor minuteamounts of CO in their homes. The main way to fight against CO buildup is proper ventilation within the home or complete withdrawal touse substances that are correlated to CO (EuropeanJoint Research Commission, 1997).

  1. Lead

This a metal element that isnaturally harvested from the earth by human for various purposes.However, it has been become widespread as a result of manufacturingand burning of fossil fuel activities. Lead is still used inproduction for many products, but the one that was predominant inhomes was lead-based paint. It is utilized in making some toys,cosmetics, soldier pipes, roofing materials, batteries and pottery.

In 1922, the League of Nationsprohibited the utilization of lead based paints in houses, while itwas not until 1978 till America banned the use (European JointResearch Commission, 1997). This was after it was evident that nomatter the level of lead that one was exposed to, they were at highrisk. It did not matter if an individual absorbed the particles,swallowed or breathed them, the effects were same. When thiscomponent is absorbed in an individual body, it is stored in thetissues, blood and bones. Some of the health effects that have beenassociated with lead poisoning are being weak, constipation,abdominal pains, memory loss, tingling or pain in feet or hand, lossof appetite and headache (European Joint Research Commission, 1997).

Though low level of thispoisoning can be overlooked high levels can cause kidney failure andbrain damage. Moreover, the effects are not limited to carriers only,but can also affect unborn children as they can cross placentalbarriers. This will result into change in how children behave andthink compared to average ones. Furthermore, there can be infertilityin both women and men, stillbirths, and miscarriages as a result oflead poisoning in people. Above all, children are the ones who areseverely affected by lead poising exposure as they often come incontact with toys that have lead components often compared to adults.There are various ways in which a family can protect itself from leadpoisoning.

One an individual can washhands of children after playing with toys to avoid hand to mouthtransfer. Moreover, a parent can clean dusty surfaces, running coldwater in a pipe and avoiding using hot tap water to cook or make babyformulas. Also, one can prevent children from playing in dusty orareas with soil. Additionally, the consumption of health diet helpsin the reduction of lead absorption. Furthermore, removal of leadpaint and not adding cover should be a primary action to take withparticular guidelines and methods set in place to follow in theremoval process in order to avoid exposer such as avoiding the use ofsanding and open-flame torch techniques to remove paint (EuropeanJoint Research Commission, 1997).

  1. Mold and Bacteria

Humidity or moisture is theprimary cause of Mold and Bacteria(Mihelcic, Fry, Myre, Barkdoll, &amp Phillips, 2009).With an ideal range being about 40-50 % one can minimize to growthrate. Home owners should periodically check areas where water ispresent as it is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria bathrooms,HVAC units, ceilings, basements, and kitchens are common areas ofconcern (Mihelcic et al., 2009). Most are visible when looking for itand commonly has a musty odor. Mold and bacteria in household canaccumulate as a result of presence of excess moisture, which is leftunattended for long.

Moreover, not all molds areharmful, but for safety purpose, it is better to assume so. It can beminimized by proper ventilation and controlling its growth bymonitoring window sills, ceiling, walls, and floors. It is importantthat various homesteads become concerned with mold and bacteria asthey pose various health risk. They produce spore and chemicalcomponents in air, which can cause headaches, skin rashes, flu likesymptom, cough, congestion, eye irritation, and some respiratoryproblems. Moreover, they can cause material damage impairing thenormal functioning of electrical circuits, ventilation and weakeningof material structures(Mihelcic et al,.2009)

  1. Ozone

Ozone, is a three-atom oxygenmolecule and has been used by some manufacturers that sell aircleaners. According to the EPA no agency of the federal governmenthas approved the fact that product with ozone compounds are safe forproduction. This has been due to the facts that there are some levelof ozone that cause some health side effects to the consumers of suchproducts. Thus, the government has worked hand in hand with the EPAto inform the masses of this possible risk. Due to the unstable stateof ozone compound, it can freely react with the body just as it doeswith other chemical compounds (European Joint Research Commission,1997).

When one inhales it, he/sheexpose himself/herself to lung damage. Low quantities can causethroat irritation, chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing.Moreover, it worsens the condition of those people that have asthmaand affects the immune system of those individual to fight ofrespiratory infections. Individuals can protect themselves fromeffects or ozone through various means. One, determine whether thereare any ozone generating products typically used for air-cleaningequipment (European Joint Research Commission, 1997).

Furthermore, an individualshould monitor the air quality index in their homes, which can beforecast in news or dailies. Additionally, as ozone has particularbeen associated to be high especially when there is an increase intemperatures, it is advisable that individuals should not exercise atgreat lengths during afternoon and summer periods. Moreover, peopleshould avoid, the use of automobile, fueling cars, lighting fireswhen temperature are high and the use cleaning products with ozonecompounds (European Joint Research Commission, 1997).

  1. Radon

This a radioactive gas thatcan freely be found in the atmosphere and it is a product uranium.Moreover, can be found in water, rocks and soil. Despite the airbeing harmful when it escapes from the earth its concentration isdiluted and thus, it is not harmful. It can be released in householdbuilding through cracks in floors, walls and gaps pipes and cablespaths. Therefore, it poses a risk in those houses that are notproperly ventilated as it can accumulate to high levels(Uri, Netzer,&amp Livshitz, 2016).

Radon has been known to causeor increase the rate of one contracting lung cancer and is the secondcause of it after smoking (European Joint Research Commission, 1997).Due to its decaying properties, it produces “radon daughters” inthe air, which when breathed are broken down in “alpha particle”in someone’s lungs as they are absorbed. As a result, they causetissue damage. The probability of one contracting cancer due to radonexposure depends on the level of exposure and whether they smoke.Thus, an individual can reduce the exposure to radon by ensuring thattheir homesteads are properly ventilated and cracks in their floors,walls and basement are properly sealed to reduce exposure(Uri, 2016).

  1. Incomplete Combustion

Indoorair quality is more problematic for the underprivileged and the poor.For people in developing countries, it is common-place to rely onburning coal or biomass for domestic energy which, when burnt withincomplete combustion results in air pollution (Bruce et al., 2000).Stove burning these materials indoors results in poor IAQ. Accordingto Bruce (2000), “indoor air pollution can increase the risk ofchronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute respiratoryinfections, which is a leading factor of death in children under theage of 5 in developing countries.”

Evidence of this airpollution also causes low birth weight, increase in nasopharyngeal,pulmonary tuberculosis, infant mortality, laryngeal cancer, andcataracts, and with coal burning, lung cancer (European JointResearch Commission, 1997). 50% of world’s population that being90% in rural areas rely on unprocessed biomass as a fuel source forheat and light(Bruce et al., 2000).In the developing world, women and children are typically involved inthe cooking process, they have the highest risk of exposure. Asstated above, the risk of acute respiratory infections is increaseddue to poor IAQ . About 2 million children under the of five yearsdie yearly as a result of acute respiratory infections caused by theuse of incomplete combustion products. (European Joint ResearchCommission, 1997).

The burning of these materialscreates fine partials, CO, and other pollutants. As one can imagineburning coal in an unventilated location is obviously detrimental toone’s health. Also, burning animal dung presents its own healtheffects. Combustion includes the burning of oil, gas, kerosene,coal, and, wood. This is primarily used in the developing world asthey need these tools for cooking, heat, and light (Bruceet al., 2000).

  1. Particulate Matter

Particulatematter that is of concern to human health is particles that are 2.5microns in diameter and known as PM2.5,but even particles with diameters below 10 microns can adverselyaffect human health. These particles get deep into lungs and findtheir way to the heart as well. According toMain (2016) studies have linked exposer to PM2.5tostrokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attacks,asthma, cardiac arrhythmias and an increase in respiratory illnesses.Particulate matter is estimated to contribute to 800,000 prematuredeaths each year, making it the 13thleading cause of death worldwide(European Joint Research Commission, 1997).

Carbondioxide monitors have become standard in most commercial buildingsand becoming the norm for residential homes. Volatile organiccompound sensors are much or costly, but gaining popularity.Currently the federal government has sensors nationwide that quantifyparticulate matter these typically cost about $100,000 each and arebulky (Main,2016). These devises are not practical for the everyday home, butthere is a new devise called the Speck which will quantifyparticulate matter, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide,carbon dioxide and other gasses for the cost of about $150-$200(Main,2016). The Speck is about the size of an alarm clock and the costmakes it practical for home use, while it’s not as accurate asfederal monitors it’s a step towards homeowner to monitoring andprevents indoor air pollutants (EuropeanJoint Research Commission, 1997).

  1. Waste management

Animal manure has many uses inthe developing world. Manure may be used in the construction of homesdepending of available material it is known as a good thermalinsulator. The burning of cow dung is used as a natural bugrepellent. It is important to note that manure does not smell thatnice and greatly affects the quality of air and those who inhale itare at increased risk of various allergic reactions (European JointResearch Commission, 1997).

Moreover, allergies fromdisposal and management of waste can cause permanent lung damage ifthey are persistent. Furthermore, when handling manure one might comein contact with the use of liquid manure system, which has beenconsidered as fast and economical, and can be hazardous if thesystems are considered in the construction of barns because of thegases produced. Gases such as hydrogen sulphide, methane and carbondioxide are produced and have been responsible for the death ofhumans (European Joint Research Commission, 1997).

Additionally, disposal ofwaste in open landfills has been associated with low birth weight,defects, miscarriages and infant mortality. Furthermore, peopleliving in these places have been found to susceptible to cancer,especially rectal, colon, gastrointestinal, stomach and esophagealcancer. Waste management has been associated with emission of gasessuch as mercury vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulphideand some VOCs among others. These compounds when exposed toindividual in households that are not well ventilated, they at riskof respiratory complications. It thus important that they becomevigilant and install their houses with proper ventilation or relocateto safer environments. Moreover, individuals utilizing manure systemscan switch to other energies, which are safe and healthy.

  1. Outdoor sources

Also, when individuals are intheir homesteads they are not safe from other outside pollutant. Eachday people are at risk mostly because of pollutants that are producedby others than themselves (Bruceet al., 2000).For instance, various homesteads are usually exposed to tobacco andsmoke pollutants. Smoke causes eye irritation and may causerespiratory problems. Smoke can be caused by burning of somebuilding, equipment or waste. Smoke might seem less harmful, but inthe long run can lead to the permanent damaging of respiratorytissues such as lungs, bronchi and alveoli. Additionally, tobaccosubstance in air can leak into individual houses and be inhaled.Though the effects can be minimal, these pollutants make onesusceptible to lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Similarly, people are also atrisk of pesticides fumes especially if they live in areas wherefarming is conducted in large scale. Moreover, people in developingcountries are at risk of pesticide as they are used to controlmosquito infestation in dump places (Bruceet al., 2000).The use of these quantities in high levels can result in thepollution of the environment as VOCs are released to the environmentand they become present in the air, which is inhaled by variousindividuals. This increase the risk of people to conduct respiratoryinfections and cancer. It is thus, important that individuals livingin these surroundings ventilate their houses properly or relocate incase of people who live near farms.

  1. HVAC system

Concern for IQA has grown overthe years due to the increase in building developers constructingmore air tight building, mostly for energy efficient, but was notoffset by an increase in ventilation (Main, 2016). These air-tightbuildings tend to trap in air pollutants, and without a properlyfunctioning HVAC system, the IQA is directly affected. This can leadto a term called “sick building syndrome”, which is defined byBas (2004), “as a building in which at least 20% of the people inan occupied building experiencing symptoms of illness for a period of2 weeks or more.”

Illnesses such as:

  • Irritated eyes, nose and throat

  • dry mucous membranes and skin

  • nausea or dizziness

  • airway infections or cough

  • mental fatigue or headaches

  • etc.

Not all symptoms are a sign ofair pollutants, but more of a comfort ability issue such as, thebuilding being too hot and some people feel dizzy in a hotenvironment. This is not the purpose of this report. It should benoted that ventilation and filtration is the main focus in thissection, but other areas of the HVAC system have particularimportance in preventing air pollution.

Ventilation and filtration arethe upmost important factor in diluting and screening the pollutantsthat come in our homes. The EPA defines elements of good IAQ ashaving adequate ventilation and controlling contaminants travelingthrough the air. First, adequate ventilation is defined as the amountof air entering a home is equal to the amount leaving. This will leadto and equal pressure, which helps to prevent the effects of negativepressure indoors. The reason negative pressure is concerning is thatoutdoor air can penetrate the home through leakage points where theoutdoor air is not filtered and may be contaminated. In addition, Bas(2004) also describes a function of a ventilation system as:

  • Dilutes the indoor air contaminants and concentrations of pollutants

  • Distributes air evenly throughout the house to ensure fresh air, relative uniform temperature, humidity, and air quantity

  • Maintains a balance air pressure.

Emission Sources and Problems Identified in HVAC Systems



Seals, adhesives, caulks

Off- gassing of volatile organic compounds

Lubricating oils

Fans, motors in airstream


By-products of electrostatic air cleaners

Dust, skin

Dust mites

Organic debris

Insects, leaves, birds

Cooling towers, drains, sumps


Volatile organic compound sinks

Dust and airborne contaminants

Cleaning compounds, disinfectants


Boiler steam

Carries anticorrosive, chemicals that may wind up in airstream

Table1- (Bas, 2004)

Next, for adequate airfiltration one should maintain their filters as today homes have morethan 900 different contaminates. In a study of 500 homes it was foundthat 21% of homes were operating with no fresh air, 57% hadinefficient filters, and 44% had unacceptable ventilation systems(Bas, 2004). Filtration is the front line defense in preventingcontaminated air from entering the home.

NewYork City was “the first state to receive the highest rating foroccupant health set by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadershipin Energy and Environmental Design,”(Main, 2016).The leading company in this field is CookFox who designed the bank ofAmerica Tower, which incorporates special filters that remove up to95% of particulate matter (Main,2016). This is proof that the new age of buildings is taking a steptowards designing for high quality indoor air.Thesedesigns are impressive, but not practical for the common residentialhome and improvements in older buildings are of grave concern(Main, 2016).

Accordingto the article by Main (2016), there are several studies that haveshown the benefits of using filters. In one of the studies it wasfound out that individuals using filters had approximately 30 % lesslevels of C-reactive protein which is associated with inflammationthan those who did not have. Moreover, another research in Canadashowed that users of fans and other ventilation eliminated the riskof infection diseases by 75%. Furthermore, another study that is yetto be published discovered that installation of ventilation helpedimprove the state of health of children and adult than previouslyreported (Main,2016).


Therefore,there is a need for individuals to safeguard themselves frompollutants such as particle matter, VOCs, lead, ozone, sulfurdioxide, carbon monoxide, smoke, pesticides, smoke, mold, bacteriaand asbestos. This is because they cause a lot of health problems,which range from respiratory, brain damage, heart diseases to cancer.For instance, asbestos, VOCs, ozone, tobacco, radon and pesticideshave been known to cause various cancers, some of which are incurablewhile others are not.

Moreover,these components affect ones respiratory system and reduce the rateat which the body fights other infections as they weaken body immunesystem. Moreover, lead, carbon monoxide, mold, bacteria and smokealso greatly tamper with the respiratory system as they damage lungtissues. In some case lead and carbon monoxide can cause death asthey are poisonous. It is thus important that individual come up withsystems that are geared toward protecting them from these substances.

Thesecan include the installation of proper ventilation system whichensures that individual houses have amble air circulation. It is alsowise to open windows and doors. Moreover, in cases where thesubstances are as a result to voluntary exposure, individuals can optto avoid the products that have those components and use othersubstitutes or adopt other methods, which seem to be friendly,healthier and safer. Furthermore, apart from behavioral change incase of asbestos and lead, people can opt to remove the painting anddo this while they are careful not to be contaminated. Additionally,parents should usually observe high hygiene levels and wash theirchildren’s hands to avoid hand to mouth poisoning in situationswhere they have been exposed to lead. Additionally, parents shouldnot cook with hot water from lead pipes or prepare bathing water forbabies from such as they increase absorption rate. It is thusimportant that individual take a great responsibility in safeguardingtheir lives against pollution in door as the government does littlein such compounds.


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