Indoor air regulation

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Indoor Air Regulation

When most people think about indoor air quality they are likely considering the subject from the perspective of smoking in restaurants or their place of employment. The majority of the workplaces in the United States went smokeless ten to twenty years ago but issues about smoking in restaurants and bars has remained a topic that has been fairly continuously debatedeven while many if not most municipalities or states have instituted clean indoor air ordinances. Many people forget, however, that the issue of clean indoor air is not new and it is not limited to the question of whether smoking should be allowed in enclosed public spaces. Much more important than the issues of smoking in restaurants and bars, with the exception of the people that work there,are the indoor pollutants that are known to cause temporary discomfort while someone is in a particular building to those that can foster lung disease and cancer. Indoor pollutants do include second-hand smoke but also mold, bacteria, dust mites and many other biological pollutants, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and radon. Additionally, organic compounds like paint, varnish, pesticides,cleaning products and others as well as formaldehyde which is present in many wood products as well as tobacco smoke are all present in many of the places people work and frequent (Andersen 1). One of the reasons that air quality is important is that often, people are unaware of the damage that is being done. In addition to productivity costs, the damage that poor indoor air can do to people’shealth is something that cannot and should not be ignored. Maintaining clean indoor air has ramifications far beyond ensuring that workplaces and other indoor areas are smoke free.
Realistically, indoor air quality became an issue during industrialization as people began to realize that the working conditions, including air quality, were damaging the health of factory workers. In 1930, airinversion resulted in thousands sick and 60 dead from exposure to industrial air emissions in Meuse Valley, Belgium and by 1938, as part of the Federal Works Progress Administration, sulfur dioxide and dust fall air sampling stations were set up in the United States (Key Events in the History of Air Quality in California 9). While not indoor air, Los Angeles experienced the first recognizable smogin 1943 with visibility of just three blocks and people experienced “smarting eyes, respiratory discomfort, nausea, and vomiting. The phenomenon is termed a “gas attack” and blamed on a nearby butadiene plant.” (Key Events 9). The problems continued after the plant was closed making it clear that people were suffering because of the population growth and the number of automobiles in operation.One of the things that has been discovered over the years is that the properties that make lungs excellent for extracting oxygen from the air also create a significant opportunity for toxic substances to make their way into the human body (Andersen 1). It seems ridiculous that nearly one hundred years after this issue was recognized, people are still working and/or patronizing places that haveharmful substances that contaminate the air. There are some federal air quality regulations as well as those created by individual states and municipalities but the ability to police the problem is not what it should be. New buildings are constructed with specific building codes that ensure that no toxic substances are used but older buildings are more problematic. When workers are ill, manycompanies will have another firm come in to test the building but this does not mean that there are no air quality issues in buildings that are not obviously making people sick.
There is no lack of regulation in this area from the standpoint of the standards that are set. States have regulations for air quality including tobacco smoke and many other hazardous substances. Texas has worked on...
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