Release 05-6      

March 17, 2005



Jerry Martin
Gennet Paauwe
(916) 322-2990
Air Board Forwards Indoor Air Quality Report to Legislature

SACRAMENTO -- Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) approved an indoor air quality report that will be sent to the California legislature. The report cites proven health and economic benefits to reducing indoor air pollution; which is estimated to cost California $45 billion per year.

"Indoor air quality is a serious concern," said Acting Chairman, Barbara Riordan. "Californians spend a significant amount of their time indoors near air pollution sources that can cause significant health problems. In fact, a typical pollutant release indoors has a 1000 times greater chance of being inhaled as the same release to urban air."

California adults spend an average of 87 percent of their time indoors, while children under the age of 12 spend about 86 percent of their time indoors. According to the report, working adults spend about 25 percent of their time at indoor locations such as office buildings, stores and restaurants, while children spend about 21 percent of their time in school. Seniors also spend a significant amount of time indoors. Because of these time budgets, people's proximity to indoor air pollution sources and the trapping effect of buildings, the likelihood that people will be exposed to indoor air pollution is much higher than outdoor exposures

Health effects associated with indoor air pollution are significant. Irritant effects, asthma, allergies, cancer, respiratory and heart disease, and premature death are some of the health effects associated with indoor air pollution Irritant effects include eye, nose, throat and respiratory tract irritation and can be reactions to pollutants and oxidants. These are sometimes associated with sick building syndrome. Premature death and respiratory disease are linked to indoor environments due to exposure to particle pollution, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and communicable diseases.

Children are particularly vulnerable to poor indoor air quality. Children's developing bodies are more susceptible to chemicals that may affect lung development and function, and their immune systems are not fully developed. Further, children and infants inhale more air and tend to be more active than adults in the same environment. These factors put youngsters at greater risk.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution, including biological contaminants, building materials and furnishings, secondhand smoke, consumer products, pesticides, combustion appliances, household and office equipment, air cleaners that emit ozone, architectural coatings, chlorinated water and soil containing radon gas. Yet, there are also many simple things that can be done, most at little or no cost, which can quickly improve indoor air quality. These include better ventilation, operation and cleaning practices, proper building maintenance, and professional training and education.

The report, developed in response to Assembly Bill 1173 (Keeley, 2002), details the health risks, sources, economic consequences and mitigation options for indoor air pollution. California continues to work diligently to reduce outdoor air pollution, while indoor air pollution sources have not been addressed in a comprehensive manner. Existing standards and regulations on indoor air pollution are scattered among many government agencies at the federal, state and local levels. A comprehensive management program would help protect public health. Reducing indoor air pollution lowers premature deaths, lost worker productivity and medical costs.

For a copy of the report, please click here.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.