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Global Indoor Health Network - GAO
In 1989, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts assigned a Special Legislative Commission with the task of preparing a report on Indoor Air Pollution.  A link to the report and a few excerpts are provided on this page.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Special Legislative Commission on Indoor Air Pollution: Indoor Air Pollution in Massachusetts

The Commission's efforts confirm the seriousness of the indoor air pollution health threat, which worsened with the energy conservation efforts of the 1970s.  More insulation and tighter construction led to lower ventilation rates and build-up of contaminants.  Many 'sick' buildings have been identified where occupants suffer severe or recurring discomforts such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, eye irritation, and respiratory problems.  Other conditions attributable to indoor air contaminants include: cancer; bronchitis; pneumonia; heart, circulatory and respiratory problems; impaired vision; skin rash; chemical sensitivity; birth defects; and mental, nervous and immunological disorders.

This Special Commission was comprised of people from several disciplines including:

• Several U.S. Congressmen and Senators

• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

• American Lung Association

• Harvard School of Public Health

• Massachusetts:
  • Department of Public Health
  • Department of Environmental Quality Engineering
  • Department of Labor and Industries
  • State Board of Building Regulations
  • Association of Health Boards
  • Health Officers Association
• Bingham, Dana and Gould (representative of the building materials industry)

• AIRXCHANGE, Inc. (representative of the heating and ventilation industry)

• Life Energy Associates (expertise in indoor air pollution mitigation)

From the report:

Sick building syndrome has been known since World War I, but the first published research paper on the topic did not happen until 1948 in England.

Indoor air pollution is a growing problem in the United States and accounts for up to 50% of all illnesses.

The indoor air we breathe often contains pollutants which may have health effects ranging from annoying to deadly.

Biological contamination of indoor environments ranks third in NIOSH's list of indoor air health threats after poor ventilation and building fabric contaminants.

The indoor air we breathe often contains pollutants which may have health effects ranging from annoying to deadly. Major pollutant types found in indoor environments include tobacco smoke, radon gas, formaldehyde, asbestos, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, combustion products and biological contaminants. For most of these pollutants, concentrations measured indoors exceed levels found outdoors yet current environmental air pollution laws and regulations are not protective of these indoor environments. They focus instead on the outdoor environment even though individuals spend about ninety percent (90%) of their time indoors.

Indoor air pollution seriously threatens public health. Scientific testimony and information provided to the Commission shows that many diseases and symptoms are attributable to indoor air pollution: irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, fatigue, nausea, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, lung cancer, heart disease, chemical sensitivity, liver and central nervous system damage and many other ailments. As a result, billions of dollars are spent annually on pollution  abatement and health care costs resulting from indoor air pollution.

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