The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog," GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.
The GAO issued a report about indoor air pollution in 1991 titled "Indoor Air Pollution: Federal Efforts are Not Effectively Addressing a Growing Problem."
Then, in 2008, the GAO issued a very similar report titled "Indoor Mold: Better Coordination of Research on Health Effects and More Consistent Guidance Would Improve Federal Efforts."
So, 17 years later, they issued the 2008 report that was very similar to the 1991 report. Both reports can be found at the links provided below.
Nothing has changed, and no progress has been made.
In the 1970s increased emphasis on energy conservation measures, such as using more energy-efficient building materials and reducing the air exchange rates of ventilation systems, resulted in increases in indoor air pollution in offices and homes. For example, energy efficiency measures sometimes result in lower air exchange rates for ventilation systems and cause pollutants, such as second-hand tobacco smoke, dust mites, carbon monoxide, benzene, and pesticides, to remain indoors and contribute to indoor air problems. Additionally, certain materials used in carpets, insulation, and home and office furniture contribute to the overall indoor air problem by giving off chemical emissions. Therefore, the elevated levels of such pollutants increase the health risks--headaches, fatigue, respiratory diseases, and cancer--for building occupants when such materials, along with air exchange rate reductions, are employed.
In 1989 and 1990 indoor air legislation was introduced in the Congress that called for more direct focus on indoor air by establishing a national program to reduce the human health threat caused by such pollution. Although the Senate passed its indoor air bill, the Congress did not enact any of the proposed legislation. Similar legislative proposals were introduced in both houses of the Congress in 1991. These legislative proposals go beyond research and require more emphasis on source control and mitigation of indoor air pollution.
The scope and purpose of the Federal Interagency Committee on Indoor Air Quality (CIAQ) and the Mold Work Group is as follows:
“The Federal Interagency Committee on Indoor Air Quality could provide a structured mechanism for coordinating research activities on mold and other indoor air issues by, for example, serving as a forum for reviewing and prioritizing agencies' ongoing and planned research. However, it currently does not do so."
GAO Report, Recommendation #1:
The Administrator, EPA, should use the Federal Interagency Committee on Indoor Air Quality to help articulate and guide research priorities on indoor mold across relevant federal agencies, coordinate information sharing on ongoing and planned research activities among agencies, and provide information to the public on ongoing research activities to better ensure that federal research on the health effects of exposure to indoor mold is effectively addressing research needs and efficiently using scarce federal resources.
GAO Report, Recommendation #2:
The Administrator, EPA, should use the Federal Interagency Committee on Indoor Air Quality to help relevant agencies review their existing guidance to the public on indoor mold--considering the audience and purpose of the guidance documents--to better ensure that it sufficiently alerts the public, especially vulnerable populations, about the potential adverse health effects of exposure to indoor mold and educates them on how to minimize exposure in homes. The reviews should take into account the best available information and ensure that the guidance does not conflict among agencies.
The Global Indoor Health Network is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing education and awareness of the health effects of mold and other indoor contaminants. Our worldwide network of experts and laypersons are working together to promote healthy indoor environments in homes, schools and businesses. Contact Us to become a member.
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