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Americans Believe Air Inside Their Homes Is Cleaner Than Outdoor Air; Data Suggests Otherwise
Aug 7, 2008
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A survey by Johns Manville found that more than a third, or 38%, of U.S. homeowners believe the air inside their homes is cleaner than air outside their homes. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says a growing body of evidence suggests air inside homes and other buildings can be “more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.”

There are a variety of sources of indoor air pollution, according to the EPA, including building materials containing substances such as added formaldehyde; wet or damp carpet; certain household cleaning products; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; the combustion of oil, natural gas or wood; and outdoor air pollutants such as radon or pesticides.

The survey found 65.7% of U.S. homeowners are “concerned” or “very concerned” about indoor air quality. By comparison, a total of only 33.2% of homeowners said they are “unconcerned” or “very unconcerned” about indoor air quality.

The most common homeowner strategies for improving indoor air quality, according to the survey, included purchasing an air purifier (23.7%); cleaning heating/cooling duct systems (23.6%); upgrading furnace or heating system components (16.7%); making ventilation improvements (15.8%); and eliminating or reducing individual sources of indoor air pollution, such as building products containing added formaldehyde or those that give off VOCs/fumes (8.6%). Some 37.7% said they had not taken any steps to improve their homes’ indoor air quality.

Air quality is also a concern for workers in commercial buildings, the survey found. More than a third, 34.5%, of respondents who are employed outside the home said the air in their place of work was either “dirty” or “very dirty.” In addition, 39.4% of respondents said “no steps have been taken” to improve the indoor air quality where they work.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), scientific studies have shown that improved indoor air quality in workplace settings, hospitals and schools has direct benefits. Workplaces that have taken steps to improve indoor air quality have seen increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, reduced health care claims and minimized remediation.

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