United States
Environmental Protection
United States
Consumer Product
Safety Commission
EPA 402-K-93-007
April 1995
Office of Air and Radiation (6607J)
The Inside Story

A Guide to Indoor Air Quality


 Air Pollution Sources in
 the Home
Improving the Air
Quality in Your Home
 Indoor Air Quality in
 Your Home
 What If You Live in an
 A Look at Source-Specific
 11 Radon

 12 Environmental
  . Tobacco Smoke
 13 Biological
 15 Stoves, Heaters,
   Fireplaces, and
 16 Household Products

 18 Formaldehyde
 23 Pesticides
 25 Asbestos

 26 Lead
                                                   Reference Guide to Major
                                                   Indoor Air Pollutants
                                                   in the Home
 Do You Suspect Your
 Office Has an Indoor
 Air Problem?
 Where to Go for
 Additional Information
                         When Building a New

                       AIR POLLUTION SOURCES IN  THE HOME
 1. Moisture
 2. Pressed Wood Furniture
 3. Humidifier
 4. Moth Repellents
 5. Dry-Cleaned Goods
 6. House Dust Mites
 7. Personal Care Products
 8. Air Freshener
 9. Stored Fuels
10. Car Exhaust
11. Paint Supplies
12. Paneling
13. Woodstove
14. Tobacco Smoke
15. Carpets
16. PressedWoodSubflooring
17. Drapes
18. Fireplace
19. Household Chemicals
20. Asbestos Floor Hies
21. Pressed  Wood Cabinets
22. Unvented Gas Stove
23. Asbestos Pipe Wrap
24. Radon
25. Unvented Clothes Dryer
26. Pesticides
27. Stored Hobby Products
28. Lead-Based Paint



        All of us face a var-
        iety of risks to our
        health as we go
about our day-to-day
lives. Driving in cars, fly-
ing in planes, engaging in
recreational activities, and
being exposed to environ-
mental pollutants all pose
varying degrees of risk.
Some risks are simply un-
avoidable. Some we
choose to accept because
to do otherwise would  re-
strict our ability to lead
our lives the way we
want. And some are risks
we might decide to avoid
if we had the opportunity
to make informed choices.
Indoor air pollution is one
risk that you can do some-
thing about.
  In  the last several years,
a groxving body of scien-
tific evidence has indi-
cated that the air within
homes and other build-
ings  can be more seriously
polluted than the outdoor
air in even the largest and
most industrialized cities.
Other research indicates
that people spend ap-
proximately 90 percent of
their time indoors. Thus,
for many people, the risks
to health may be greater
due to exposure to air pol-
lution indoors than out-
  In  addition, people who
may  be exposed to indoor
air pollutants for the long-
est periods of time are of-
ten those most susceptible
to the effects of indoor air
pollution. Such groups  in-
clude the young, the eld-
erly,  and the chronically
ill, especially those suffer-
ing from respiratory or
cardiovascular disease.


            ile pollutant
           levels from in-
           dividual sour-
ces may not pose a signifi-
cant health risk by them-
selves, most homes have
more than one source that
contributes to indoor air
pollution. There can be
a serious risk from the
cumulative effects of these
sources. Fortunately, there
are steps that most people
can take both to reduce
the risk from existing
sources and to prevent
new problems from occur-
ring. This booklet  was
prepared by the U.S. Envi-
ronmental Protection
Agency (EPA)  and the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) to
help you decide whether
to take actions that can
reduce the level of indoor
air pollution in your own
  Because so many Ameri-
cans spend a lot of time in
offices with mechanical
heating, cooling, and ven-
tilation systems, there is
also a short section on the
causes of poor air quality
in offices and what you
can do if you suspect that
your office may have a
problem. A glossary and a
list of organizations where
you can get additional in-
formation are listed at the
back of this booklet.

                        INDOOR AIR QUALITY IN YOUR HOME
    Indoor pollution sour-
    ces that release gases
    or particles into the air
are the primary cause of
indoor air quality prob-
lems in homes. Inadequate
ventilation can increase
indoor pollutant levels by
not bringing in enough
outdoor air to dilute emis-
sions from indoor sources
and by not carrying in-
door air pollutants out of
the home. High tempera-
ture and humidity levels
can also increase concen-
trations of some pollutants.
Pollutant Sources

There are many sources of
indoor air pollution in any
home. These include com-
bustion sources such as
oil, gas, kerosene, coal,
wood, and tobacco prod-
ucts; building materials
and furnishings as diverse
as deteriorated, asbestos-
containing insulation, wet
or damp carpet, and
cabinetry or furniture
made of certain pressed
wood products; products
for household cleaning
and maintenance, per-
sonal care, or hobbies; cen-
tral heating and cooling
systems and humidifica-
tion devices; and outdoor
sources such as radon,
pesticides, and outdoor air
  The relative importance
of any single source de-
pends on how much of a
given pollutant it emits
and how hazardous those
emissions  are. In some
cases, factors such as how
old the source is and
whether it is properly
maintained are significant.
For example, an improp-
erly adjusted gas stove can
emit significantly more
carbon monoxide than one
that is properly adjusted.
  Some sources, such as
building materials, furn-
ishings, and household
products like air fresh-
eners, release pollutants
more or less continuously.
Other sources, related to
activities carried out in the
home, release pollutants
intermittently. These in-
clude smoking, the use of
unvented or malfunction-
ing stoves, furnaces, or
space heaters, the use of
solvents in cleaning and
hobby activities, the use of
paint strippers in redecor-
ating activities, and the
use of cleaning products
and pesticides in house-
keeping. High pollutant
concentrations can remain
in the air for long periods
after some of these activities.

Amount of Ventilation
If too little outdoor air en-
ters a home, pollutants
can accumulate to levels
that can pose health and
comfort problems. Unless
they are built with special
mechanical means of ven-
tilation, homes that are de-
signed and constructed to
minimize the amount of
outdoor air that can "leak"
into and out of the home
may have higher pollutant
levels than other homes.
However, because some
weather conditions can
drastically reduce the
amount of outdoor air that
enters a home, pollutants
can build up even in
homes  that are normally
considered "leaky."


        Outdoor air enters
        and leaves a
        house by: infil-
tration, natural ventila-
tion, and mechanical ven-
tilation. In a process
known as infiltration, out-
door air flows into the
house through openings,
joints, and cracks in walls,
floors, and ceilings, and
around windows and
doors.  In natural ventila-
tion, air moves through
opened windows and
doors. Air movement as-
sociated with infiltration
and natural ventilation is
caused by air temperature
differences between in-
doors and outdoors  and
by wind. Finally, there are
a number of mechanical
ventilation devices, from
outdoor-vented fans that
intermittently remove air
from a single room, such
as bathrooms and kitchen,
to air handling systems
that use fans and duct
work to continuously re-
move indoor air and dis-
tribute filtered and condi-
tioned outdoor air to stra-
tegic points throughout
the house. The rate  at
which outdoor air replaces
indoor air is described as
the air exchange rate.
When there is little infil-
tration, natural ventila-
tion, or mechanical venti-
lation, the air exchange
rate is low and pollutant
levels can increase.
         partments can
         have the same in-
         door air problems
", as single-family homes be-
 cauie many of the pollu-
Jtion sources," such as the
/interior building materi-
 als, furnishings, and
 household products, are
"similar. Indoor air prob-
^lenis^similar to those in
' offices are caused by such
^ources as contaminated
liVentilation  systems, im-
'^pfoperly placed outdoor
%-air intakes, ox mainte-
 XCaftce activities..     ,  „
   Solutions to air quality
- problems in apartments,
                 as in homes and offices,
                 involve such actions as:
                 eliminating or controlling
                 the sources of pollution,
                 increasing ventilation, and
                 installing air cleaning de-
                 vices. Often a resident can
                 take the appropriate ac-
                 tion to improve the indoor
                 air quality by removing a
                 source, altering an activity,
                 unblocking an air supply
                 vent, or opening a win-
                 dow to temporarily in"
                 crease the ventilation; in
                 other cases, however, only
                 the building owner or
                 manager is in a position to
                 remedy the problem. (See

the section "What to Do If
You Suspect a Problem"
on page 30.) You can en-
courage building manage-
ment to follow guidance
Building Air Quality: A
Guide for Building Owners
and Facility Managers. It is
available for $24 from the
Superintendent of Docu-
ments, P.O. Box 371954,
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; !
stock # 055-000-00390-4, or
call (202) 783-3238.


        ealth effects from
        indoor air pollut-
        ants may be expe-
 rienced soon after expo-
 sure or, possibly, years
  Immediate effects may
 show up after a single ex-
 posure or repeated expo-
 sures. These include irrita-
 tion of the eyes, nose, and
 throat, headaches, dizzi-
 ness, and fatigue. Such im-
 mediate effects are usually
 short-term and treatable.
 Sometimes the treatment
 is simply eliminating the
 person's exposure to the
 source of the pollution, if
 it can be identified. Symp-
 toms of some diseases, in-
 cluding asthma, hypersen-
 sitivity pneumonitis, and
 humidifier fever, may also
 show up soon after expo-
 sure to some indoor air
  The likelihood of imme-
 diate reactions to indoor
 air pollutants depends on
 several factors. Age and
 preexisting medical condi-
 tions are two important
 influences. In other cases,
 whether a person reacts to
 a pollutant depends on
individual sensitivity,
which varies tremendous-
ly from person to person.
 Some people can become
 sensitized to biological
 pollutants after repeated
 exposures, and it appears
 that some people can be-
 come sensitized to chemi-
 cal pollutants as well.
  Certain immediate ef-
 fects are similar to those
 from colds or other viral
 diseases, so it is often dif-
 ficult to determine if the
 symptoms are a result of
 exposure to indoor air pol-
 lution. For this reason, it is
 important to pay attention
 to the time and place the
 symptoms occur. If the
 symptoms fade or go
 away when a person is
 away from the home and
 return when the person
 returns, an effort should
 be made to identify indoor
 air sources that may be
 possible causes. Some ef-
 fects may be made worse
 by an inadequate supply
 of outdoor air or from the
 heating, cooling, or hu-
 midity conditions preva-
 lent in the home.
  Other health effects may
 show up either years after
 exposure has occurred or
 only after long or repeated
periods of exposure. These
effects, which include
some respiratory diseases,
heart disease, and cancer,
can be severely debilitat-
ing or fatal. It is prudent
 to try to improve the in-
 door air quality in your
 home even if symptoms
 are not noticeable. More
 information on potential
 health effects from par-
 ticular indoor air pollut-
 ants is provided in the sec-
 tion, "A Look at Source-
 Specific Controls."
  While pollutants com-
 monly found in indoor air
 are responsible for many
 harmful effects, there is
 considerable uncertainty
 about what concentrations
 or periods of exposure are
 necessary to produce spe-
 cific health problems.
 People also react very dif-
 ferently to exposure to in-
 door air pollutants. Fur-
 ther research is needed to
 better understand which
 health effects occur after
 exposure to the average
 pollutant concentrations
 found in homes and
 which occur from the
 higher concentrations that
 occur for short periods of
  The health effects asso-
 ciated with some indoor
 air pollutants are summa-
 rized in the chart in the
middle of this booklet
 titled "Reference Guide to
Major Indoor Air Pollut-
ants in the Home."

       Some health effects
       can be useful indi-
       cators of an indoor
 air quality problem, espe-
 cially if they appear after a
 person moves to a new
 residence, remodels or re-
 furnishes a home, or treats
 a home with pesticides. If
 you think that you have
 symptoms that may be re-
 lated to your home envi-
 ronment, discuss them
 with your doctor or your
 local health department to
 see if they could be caused
 by indoor air pollution.
 You may also want to con-
 sult a board-certified aller-
 gist or an occupational
 medicine specialist for an-
 swers to your questions.
  Another way to judge
 whether your home has or
 could develop indoor air
 problems is to identify po-
 tential sources of indoor
 air pollution. Although
 the presence of such sour-
 ces (see illustration at the
beginning of this booklet)
 does not necessarily mean
that you have an indoor
air quality problem, being
aware of the type and
number of potential
sources is an important
step toward assessing the
air quality in your home.

  A third way to decide
whether your home may
have poor indoor air qual-
ity is to look at your
lifestyle and activities.
Human activities can be
significant sources of in-
door air pollution.  Finally,
look for signs of problems
with the ventilation in
your home. Signs that can
indicate your home may
not have enough ventila-
tion include moisture con-
densation on windows or
walls, smelly or stuffy air,
dirty central heating and
air cooling equipment,
and areas where books,
shoes, or other items be-
come moldy. To detect
odors in your home, step
outside for a few minutes,
and then upon reentering
your home, note whether
odors are noticeable.


     The federal govern-
     ment recommends
     that you measure
the level of radon in your
home. Without measure-
ments there is no way to
tell whether radon is
present because it is a col-
orless, odorless, radioac-
tive gas. Inexpensive de-
vices are available for
measuring radon. EPA
provides guidance as to
risks associated with dif-
ferent levels of exposure
and when the public
should consider corrective
action. There are specific
mitigation techniques that
have proven effective in
reducing levels of radon in
the home.  (See "Radon"
section on p. 11 of this
booklet for additional in-
formation about testing
and controlling radon in
  For pollutants other
than radon, measurements
are most appropriate
when there are either
health symptoms or signs
of poor ventilation and
specific sources or pollut-
ants have been identified
as possible causes of in-
door air quality problems.
Testing for many pollut-
ants can be expensive. Be-
fore monitoring your
home for pollutants be-
sides radon, consult your
state or local health de-
partment or professionals
who have  experience in
solving indoor air quality
problems in nonindustrial
Percent Reduction in Air-Exchange Rate By
House-Tightening Measures




Depending on which of these measures are used, a home's natural
infiltration role can be reduced by up to about 30 percent.
Source: Bonneville Power Administration

      The federal govern-
      ment recommends
      that homes be
weatherized in order to
reduce the amount of en-
ergy needed for heating
and cooling. While weath-
erization is underway,
however, steps should also
be taken to minimize pol-
lution from sources inside
the home. (See "Improv-
ing the Air Quality in Your
Home" for recommended
actions.) In addition, resi-
dents should be alert to
the emergence of signs of
inadequate ventilation,
such as stuffy air, moisture
condensation on cold
surfaces, or mold
and mildew
should not
be under-
taken until
these problems have
been corrected.
                            Weatherization gener-
                           ally does not cause indoor
                           air problems by adding
                           new pollutants to the air.
                           (There are a few excep-
                           tions, such as caulking,
                           that can sometimes emit
                           pollutants.) However,
                           measures such as install-
                           ing storm windows,
                           weather stripping, caulk-
                           ing, and blown-in wall in-
                           sulation can reduce the
                           amount of outdoor air in-
                           filtrating into a home.
                           Consequently, after weath-
                           erization, concentrations
                           of indoor air pollutants
                           from sources inside the
                           home can increase.

       Source Control
       Usually the most
       effective way to im-
 prove indoor air quality is
 to eliminate individual
 sources of pollution or to
 reduce their emissions.
 Some sources, like those
 that contain asbestos, can
 be sealed or enclosed; oth-
 ers, like gas stoves, can be
 adjusted to decrease the
 amount of emissions. In
 many cases, source control
 is also a more cost-effi-
 cient  approach to protect-
 ing indoor air quality than
 increasing ventilation be-
 cause increasing ventila-
 tion can increase energy
 costs. Specific sources of
 indoor air pollution in
 your home are listed later
 in this section.
Ventilation Improvements
Another approach to low-
ering the concentrations of
indoor air pollutants in
your home is to increase
the amount of outdoor air
coming indoors. Most
home heating and cooling
systems, including forced
air heating systems, do
not mechanically bring
fresh air into the house.
Opening windows and
doors, operating window
or attic fans, when the
weather permits, or run-
ning a window air condi-
tioner with the vent con-
trol open increases the
outdoor ventilation rate.
Local bathroom or kitchen
fans that exhaust outdoors
remove contaminants di-
rectly from the room
where the fan is located
and also increase tihe out-
door air ventilation rate.
  It is particularly impor-
tant to take as many of
these steps as possible
while you are involved in
short-term activities that
can generate high levels of
pollutants—for example,
painting, paint stripping,
heating with kerosene
heaters, cooking, or en-
gaging in maintenance
and hobby activities such
as welding, soldering, or
sanding. You might also
choose to do some of these
activities outdoors, if you
can and if weather per-
  Advanced designs of
new homes are starting to
feature mechanical sys-
tems that bring outdoor
air into the home. Some of
these designs include en-
ergy-efficient heat recov-
ery ventilators (also
known as air-to-air heat
exchangers). For more in-
formation about air-to-air
heat exchangers, contact
the Conservation and Re-
newable Energy Inquiry
and Referral Service
(CAREIRS), PO Box 3048,
Merrifield, VA 22116;
(800) 523-2929.

Air Cleaners
There are many types and
sizes of air cleaners on the
market, ranging from rela-
tively inexpensive table-
top models to sophisti-
cated and expensive
whole-house systems.
Some air  cleaners are
highly effective at particle
removal,  while others, in-
cluding most table-top
models, are much less so.
Air cleaners are generally
not designed to remove
gaseous pollutants.
  The effectiveness of an
air cleaner depends on
how well it collects pollut-
ants from indoor air (ex-
pressed as a percentage
efficiency rate) and how
much air it draws through
the cleaning or filtering
element (expressed in cu-
bic feet per minute). A
very efficient collector
with a low air-circulation
rate will not be effective,
nor will a cleaner with a
high air-circulation rate
but a less efficient collec-
tor. The long-term perfor-
mance of any air cleaner
depends on maintaining it
according to the manu-
facturer's directions.
  Another important fac-
tor in determining the ef-
fectiveness of an air clean-
er is the strength of the
pollutant source. Table-top
air cleaners, in particular,
may not remove satisfac-
tory amounts of pollutants
from strong nearby sour-
ces. People with a sensitiv-
ity to particular sources
may find that air cleaners
are helpful only in con-
junction with concerted
efforts to remove the
  Over the past few years,
there has been some pub-
licity suggesting that
houseplants have been
shown to reduce levels of
some chemicals in labora-
tory experiments. There is
currently no evidence,
however, that a reasonable
number of houseplants
remove significant quanti-
ties of pollutants in homes
and offices. Indoor house-
plants should not be over-
watered because overly
damp soil may promote
the growth of microorgan-
isms which can affect al-
lergic individuals.
  At present, EPA does
not recommend using air
cleaners to reduce levels of
radon and its decay prod-
ucts. The effectiveness of

these devices is uncertain
because they only par-
tially remove the radon
decay products and do not
diminish the amount of
radon entering the home.
EPA plans to do additional
research on whether air
cleaners are, or could be-
come, a reliable means of
reducing the health risk
from radon. EPA's book-
let, Residential Air-Cleaning
Devices, provides further
information on air-clean-
ing devices to reduce in-
door air pollutants.

      For most indoor air
      quality problems in
      the home, source
control is the most effec-
tive solution. This section
takes a source-by-source
look at the most common
indoor air pollutants, their
potential health effects,
and ways to reduce levels
in the home. (For a sum-
mary of the points made
in this section, see the
chart in the middle of this
booklet titled "Reference
Guide to Major Indoor Air
Pollutants in the Home.")


      The most common
      source of indoor
      radon is uranium in
 the soil or rock on which
homes are built. As uran-
 ium naturally breaks
 down, it releases radon
 gas which is a colorless,
 odorless, radioactive gas.
 Radon gas enters homes
 through dirt floors, cracks
 in concrete walls and
 floors, floor drains, and
 sumps. When radon be-
 comes trapped in build-
 ings and concentrations
 build up indoors, expo-
 sure to radon becomes a
I	:	
  Any home may have a
radon problem. This
means new and old
homes, well-sealed and
drafty homes, and homes
with or without base-
  Sometimes radon enters
the home through well
water. In a small number
of homes, the building
materials can give off ra-
don, too. However, build-
ing materials rarely cause
radon problems by them-

Health Effects of

The predominant health
effect associated with ex-
posure to elevated levels
of radon is lung cancer.
Research suggests that
swallowing water with '
high radon levels may
pose risks, too, although
these are believed to be
much lower than those
from breathing air con-
taining radon. Major
health organizations (like
the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention,
the American Lung Asso-
ciation (ALA), and the
American Medical Asso-
ciation) agree with esti-
mates that radon causes
thousands of preventable
lung cancer deaths each
year. EPA estimates that
radon causes about 14,000
deaths per year in the
United States—however,
this number could range
from 7,000 to 30,000
deaths per year. If you
smoke and your home has
high radon levels, your
risk of lung cancer is espe-
cially high.

Reducing Exposure
to Radon in Homes

•Measure levels of radon
in your home.
You can't see radon, but
it's not hard to find out if
you have a radon problem
in your home.  Testing is
easy and should only take
a little of your time.
   There are many kinds of
inexpensive, do-it-yourself
radon test kits you can get
through the mail and in
hardware stores and other
retail outlets. Make sure
you buy a test kit that has
passed EPA's testing pro-
gram or is state-certified.
These kits will usually dis-
play the phrase "Meets
EPA Requirements." If
you prefer, or if you are
buying or selling a home,
you can hire a trained con-
tractor to do the testing for
you. The EPA Radon
Measurement Proficiency
(RMP) Program evaluates
testing contractors. A con-
tractor who has  met EPA's
requirements will carry a
special RMP identification
card. EPA provides a list
of companies and indivi-
dual contractors to state
radon offices. You can call
your state radon office to
obtain a list of qualified
contractors in your area
(call 800-SQS RADON for
a list of state radon

       %  Coruumcf's Gu!i» To
  •Refer to the EPA guide-
  lines on how to test and
  interpret your test results.
  You can learn more  about
  radon through EPA's pub-
  lications, A Citizen's Guide
  to Radon: Tlie Guide  to Pro-
  tecting Yourself and Your
  Family From Radon and
  Home Buyer's and Seller's
  Guide to Radon, which are
  available from state radon
  •Learn about radon re-
  duction methods.
  Ways to reduce radon in
  your home are discussed
  in EPA's Consumer's Guide
  to Radon Reduction. You
  can get a copy from  your
  state radon office. There
  are simple solutions to ra-
  don problems in homes.
  Thousands of homeown-
  ers have already fixed ra-
  don problems. Lowering
  high radon levels requires
  technical knowledge and
  special skills. You should
  use a contractor who is
  trained to fix radon prob-
   The EPA Radon Con-
  tractor Proficiency (RCP)
  Program tests these con-
  tractors. EPA provides a
  list of RCP contractors to
  state radon offices. A con-
  tractor who is listed  by
  EPA will carry a special
  RCP identification card. A
  trained RCP contractor
                              • **  The Guide To Protecting
                              -SBC..  Yourself And Your Family
                                  From Radon
 can study the problem in
 your home and help you
 pick the correct treatment
 method.  Check with your
 state radon office for
 names of qualified or
 state-certified radon-re-
 duction contractors in
 your area.
 •Stop smoking and dis-
 courage smoking in your
 Scientific evidence indi-
 cates that smoking com-
 bined with radon is an es-
 pecially serious health
 risk. Stop smoking and
 lower your radon level to
 reduce lung cancer risk.
 •Treat radon-contami-
 nated well water.
 While radon in water is
 not a problem in homes
 served by most public wa-
 ter supplies, it has been
 found in  well water. If
 you've tested the air in
 your home and found a
 radon problem, and you
 have a well, contact a lab
 certified to measure radia-
 tion in water to have your
 water tested. Radon prob-
 lems in water can be
 readily fixed. Call your
 state radon office or the
 EPA Drinking Water Hot-
 line (800-426-4791) for
more information.
                           TOBACCO SMOKE
      tobacco smoke
      (ETS) is the mixture
 of smoke that comes from
 the burning end of a ciga-
 rette, pipe, or cigar, and
 smoke exhaled by the
 smoker. It is a complex
 mixture of over 4,000 com-
 pounds, more than 40 of
 which are known to cause
 cancer in humans or ani-
 mals and many of which
 are strong irritants.  ETS
 is often referred to as "sec-
 ondhand smoke"  and ex-
 posure to ETS is often
 called "passive smoking."

 Health  Effects  of
 Tobacco Smoke

 In 1992, EPA completed a
 major assessment of the
 respiratory health risks of
 ETS (Respiratory Health Ef-
fects of Passive Smoking:
 Lung Cancer and Other Dis-
 orders EPA/600/6-90/
 006F). The report con-
 cludes that exposure to
 ETS is responsible for ap-
 proximately 3,000 lung
 cancer deaths each year in
 nonsmoking adults and
 impairs the respiratory
 health of hundreds of
 thousands of children.
  Infants and young chil-
 dren whose parents smoke
 in their presence are at in-
 creased risk of lower res-
 piratory tract infections  ^
 (pneumonia and bron-
 chitis) and are more
 likely to have symp-
 toms of respiratory irri-
 tation like cough, excess
phlegm, and wheeze.  EPA
 estimates that passive
smoking annually causes
between 150,000 and
300,000 lower respiratory
 tract infections in infants
 and children under 18
 months of age, resulting in
 between 7,500 and 15,000
 hospitalizations each year.
 These children may also
 have a build-up of fluid in
 the middle ear, which can
 lead to ear infections.
 Older children who have
 been exposed to second-
 hand smoke may have
 slightly reduced lung
  Asthmatic children are
 especially at risk. EPA es-
 timates that exposure to
 secondhand smoke in-
 creases the number of epi-
 sodes and severity of
 symptoms in hundreds of
 thousands of asthmatic
 children, and may cause
 thousands of nonasth-
 matic children to develop
 the disease each year. EPA
 estimates that between
 200,000 and 1,000,000 asth-
 matic children have their
 condition made worse by
 exposure to secondhand
 smoke each year.
  Exposure to secondhand
 smoke causes eye, nose,
 and throat irritation. It
 may affect the cardiovas-
 cular system and some
 studies have linked expo-
 sure to secondhand smoke
with the onset of chest
pain. For publications
about ETS, contact EPA's
Indoor Air Quality Infor-
mation Clearinghouse (IAQ
INFO), 800-438-4318 or
 (202) 484-1307.

Reducing Exposure
to Environmental
Tobacco Smoke

•Don't smoke at home
or permit others to do so.
Ask smokers to smoke
The 1986 Surgeon
General's report con-
cluded that physical sepa-
ration of smokers and
nonsmokers in a common
air space, such as different
rooms within the same
house, may reduce—but
will not eliminate—non-
smokers' exposure to en-
vironmental tobacco
•If smoking indoors can-
not be avoided, increase
ventilation in the area
where smoking takes
Open windows or use ex-
haust fans.  Ventilation, a
common method of reduc-
ing exposure to indoor air
pollutants, also will re-
duce but not eliminate ex-
posure to environmental
tobacco smoke. Because
smoking produces such
large amounts  of pollut-
ants, natural or mechani-
cal ventilation  techniques
do not remove them from
the air in your  home as
quickly as they build up.
In addition, the large in-
creases in ventilation it
takes to significantly re-
duce exposure to environ-
mental tobacco smoke can
also increase energy costs
substantially. Conse-
quently, the most effective
 way to reduce exposure
   to environmental to-
   bacco smoke in the
   home is to eliminate
   smoking there.
  •Do not smoke if chil-
dren are present, particu-
larly infants and toddlers.
Children are particularly
susceptible to the effects of
passive smoking. Do not
allow baby-sitters or oth-
ers who work in your
home to smoke indoors.
Discourage others from
smoking around children.
Find out about the smok-
ing policies of  the day care
center providers, schools,
and other care givers for
your children.  The policy
should protect children
from exposure to ETS.

       iological contami-
       nants include bac-
       teria, molds, mil-
dew, viruses, animal dan-
der and cat saliva, house
dust mites, cockroaches,
and pollen. There are
many sources of these pol-
lutants. Pollens originate
from plants; viruses are
transmitted by people and
animals; bacteria are car-
ried by people, animals,
and soil and plant debris;
and household pets are
sources of saliva and ani-
mal dander. The protein in
urine from rats and mice
is a potent allergen. When
it dries, it can become air-
borne. Contaminated cen-
tral air handling systems
can become breeding
grounds for mold, mildew,
and other sources of bio-
logical contaminants and
can then distribute  these
contaminants through
the home.
  By controlling the rela-
tive humidity level in a
home, the growth of some
sources of biologicals can
be minimized. A relative
humidity of 30-50 percent
is generally recommended
for homes. Standing wa-
ter, water-damaged mate-
rials, or wet surfaces also
serve as a breeding
ground for molds, mil-
dews, bacteria, and in-
sects. House dust mites,
the source of one of the
most powerful biological
allergens, grow in damp,
warm environments.
Health Effects
From Biological

Some biological contami-
nants trigger allergic reac-
tions, including hypersen-
sitivity pneumonitis, aller-
gic rhinitis, and some
types of asthma. Infectious
illnesses, such as influ-
enza, measles, and chicken
pox are transmitted
through the air. Molds and
mildews release disease-
causing toxins. Symptoms
of health problems caused
by biological pollutants
include sneezing, watery
eyes, coughing, shortness
of breath, dizziness, leth-
argy, fever, and digestive
  Allergic reactions occur
only after repeated expo-
sure to a specific biologi-
cal allergen. However,
that reaction may occur
immediately upon re-
exposure or after multiple

  exposures over time. As a
  result, people who have
  noticed only mild allergic
  reactions, or no reactions
  at all, may suddenly find
  themselves very sensitive
  to particular allergens.
   Some diseases, like hu-
  midifier fever, are associ-
  ated with exposure to tox-
  ins from microorganisms
  that can grow in large
  building ventilation sys-
  tems. However, these dis-
  eases can also be traced to
  microorganisms that grow
  in home heating and cool-
  ing systems and humidifi-
  ers.  Children, elderly
  people, and people with
  breathing problems, aller-
  gies, and lung diseases are
  particularly susceptible to
  disease-causing biological
  agents in the indoor air.

  Reducing Exposure
  to Biological
  •Install and use exhaust
  fans that are vented to the
  outdoors in kitchens and
  bathrooms and vent
  clothes dryers outdoors.
  These actions can elimi-
  nate much of the moisture
  that builds up from every-
  day activities. There are
exhaust fans on the mar-
ket that produce little
noise, an important con-
sideration for some
people. Another benefit to
using kitchen and bath-
room exhaust fans is that
they can reduce levels of
organic pollutants that va-
porize from hot water
used in showers and dish-
•Ventilate the attic and
crawl spaces to prevent
moisture build-up.
Keeping humidity levels
in these areas below 50
percent can prevent water
condensation on building
•If using cool mist or
ultrasonic humidifiers,
clean appliances accord-
ing to manufacturer's in-
structions and refill with
fresh water daily.
Because these humidifiers
can become breeding
 grounds for biological
   contaminants, they
       have the potential
for causing diseases such
as hypersensitivity pneu-
monitis and humidifier
fever. Evaporation trays
in air conditioners, dehu-
midifiers, and refrigera-
tors should also be
cleaned frequently.
•Thoroughly clean and
dry water-damaged car-
pets and building materi-
als (within 24 hours if
possible) or consider re-
moval and replacement.
Water-damaged carpets
and building materials can
harbor mold and bacteria.
It is very difficult to com-
pletely rid such materials
of biological contami-
•Keep the house clean.
House dust mites, pol-
lens, animal dander, and
other allergy-causing
agents can be reduced,
although not eliminated,
through regular cleaning.
People who are allergic to
these pollutants should
use allergen-proof mat-
tress encasements, wash
bedding in hot (130°F)
water, and avoid room
furnishings that accumu-
late dust, especially if they
cannot be washed in hot
water. Allergic individuals
should also leave the
house while it is being
vacuumed because vacu-
uming can actually in-
crease airborne levels of
mite allergens and other
biological contaminants.
Using central vacuum sys-
tems that are vented to the
outdoors or vacuums with
high efficiency filters may
also be of help.
                                                       Dust mites, microscopic animals found in household dust, produce
                                                       a common allergen. Exposure to house dust mites, animal-related
                                                       allergens (animal dander and cat saliva), and mold have been
                                                       estimated to cause 200,000 or more emergency room visits a
                                                       year by asthma patients. Humid or damp conditions usually lead
                                                       to greater numbers of dust mites.

•Take steps to minimize
biological pollutants in
Clean and disinfect the
basement floor drain regu-
larly. Do not finish a base-
ment below ground level
unless all water leaks are
patched and outdoor ven-
tilation and adequate heat
to prevent condensation
are provided. Operate a
dehumidifier in the base-
ment if needed to keep
relative humidity levels
between 30-50 percent.
  To learn more about bio-
logical pollutants, read
Biological Pollutants in Your
Home issued by the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety
Commission and the
American Lung Assoc-
iation. For contact infor-
mation, see the section,
"Where to Go For Addi-
tional Information."

    In addition to environ-
    mental tobacco smoke,
    other sources of com-
bustion products are
unvented kerosene and
gas space heaters,
woodstoves, fireplaces,
and gas stoves. The major
pollutants released are
carbon monoxide, nitro-
gen dioxide, and particles.
Unvented kerosene heat-
ers may also generate acid
  Combustion gases and
particles also come from
chimneys and flues that
are improperly installed or
maintained and cracked
furnace heat exchangers.
Pollutants from fireplaces
and woodstoves with no
dedicated outdoor air sup-
ply can be "back-drafted"
from the chimney into the

living space, particularly
in weatherized homes.
Health Effects of

Carbon monoxide is a
colorless, odorless
gas that interferes with the
delivery of oxygen
throughout the body. At
high concentrations it can
cause unconsciousness
and death. Lower concen-
trations can cause a range
of symptoms from head-
aches, dizziness, weak-
ness, nausea, confusion,
and disorientation, to fa-
tigue in healthy people
and episodes of increased
chest pain in people with
chronic heart disease. The
symptoms of carbon mon-
oxide poisoning are some-
times confused with the
flu or food poisoning. Fe-
tuses, infants, elderly
people, and people with
anemia or with a history
of heart or respiratory dis-
ease can be especially sen-
sitive to carbon monoxide
  Nitrogen dioxide is a col-
orless, odorless gas that
irritates the mucous mem-
branes in the eye, nose,
and throat and causes
shortness of breath after
exposure to high concen-
trations. There is evidence
that high concentrations
or continued exposure to
low levels of nitrogen di-
oxide increases the risk of
respiratory infection; there
is also evidence from ani-
mal studies that repeated
exposures to elevated ni-
trogen dioxide levels may
lead, or contribute, to the
development of lung dis-
ease such as emphysema.
People at particular risk
from exposure to nitrogen
dioxide include children
and individuals with
asthma and other respira-
tory diseases.
                                                          JT   ft
  Particles, released when
fuels are incompletely
burned, can lodge in the
lungs and irritate or dam-
age lung tissue. A number
of pollutants, including
radon and benzo(a)py-
rene, both of which can
cause cancer, attach to
small particles that are in-
haled and then carried
deep into the lung.

Reducing Exposure
to Combustion
Products in  Homes

•Take special precautions
when operating fuel-
burning unvented space
Consider potential effects
of indoor air pollution if
you use an unvented kero-
sene or gas space heater.
Follow the manufacturer's
directions, especially in-
structions on the proper
fuel and keeping the

  Attached garages or workplace areas where petroleum products and old painting and cleaning
  supplies are stored can be major sources of organic air pollutants.
  heater properly adjusted.
  A persistent yellow-tipped
  flame is generally an indi-
  cator of maladjustment
  and increased pollutant
  emissions. While a space
  heater is in use, open a
  door from the room where
  the heater is located to the
  rest of the house and open
  a window slightly.
  •Install and use exhaust
  fans over gas cooking
  stoves and ranges and
  keep the burners prop-
  erly adjusted.
   Using a stove hood with
  a fan vented to the out-
  doors greatly reduces ex-
  posure to pollutants dur-
  ing cooking. Improper ad-
  justment, often indicated
  by a persistent yellow-
  tipped flame, causes in-
  creased pollutant emis-
  sions. Ask your gas com-
  pany to adjust the burner
  so that the flame tip is
  blue. If you purchase a
  new gas stove or range,
  consider buying one with
  pilotless ignition because
  it does not have a pilot
  light that burns continu-
  ously. Never use a gas
  stove to heat your home.
  Always make certain the
  flue in your gas fireplace
  is open when the fireplace
  is in use.
 •Keep wobdstove emis-
 sions to a minimum.
 Choose properly sized
 new stoves that are certi-
 fied as meeting EPA
 emission standards.
 Make certain that doors in
 old woodstoves are tight-
 fitting. Use aged or cured
 (dried) wood only and fol-
 low the manufacturer's
 directions for starting,
 stoking, and putting out
 the fire in woodstoves.
 Chemicals are used to
 pressure-treat wood; such
 wood should never be
 burned indoors. (Because
 some old gaskets in wood-
 stove doors contain asbes-
 tos, when replacing gas-
 kets refer to the instruc-
 tions in the CPSC, ALA,
 and EPA booklet, Asbestos
 in Your Home, to avoid cre-
 ating an asbestos problem.
 New gaskets are made of
 •Have central air han-
 dling systems, including
 furnaces, flues, and chim-
neys, inspected annually
 and promptly repair
cracks or damaged parts.
 Blocked, leaking, or dam-
 aged chimneys or flues
release harmful combus-
tion gases and particles
and even fatal concentra-
tions of carbon monoxide.
Strictly follow all service
and maintenance proce-
dures recommended by
the manufacturer, includ-
ing those that tell you how
frequently to change the
filter. If manufacturer's
instructions are not
readily available, change
filters once every month
or two during periods of
use. Proper maintenance is
important even for new
furnaces because they can
also corrode and leak
combustion gases, includ-
ing carbon monoxide.
Read the booklet What You
Should Know About Com-
bustion Appliances and In-
door Air Pollution to learn
more about combustion
pollutants.  The booklet is
available by contacting
Clearinghouse, or your
local ALA. (See "Where to
Go for Additional Infor-
mation" for contact infor-

         Organic chemicals
         are widely used
         as ingredients in
 household products.
 Paints, varnishes, and wax
 all contain organic sol-
 vents, as do many clean-
 ing, disinfecting, cosmetic,
 degreasing, and hobby
 products. Fuels are made
 up of organic chemicals.
 All of these products  can
 release organic com-
 pounds while you are
 using them, and, to some
 degree, when they are
  EPA's Total Exposure
 Assessment Methodology
 (TEAM) studies found lev-
 els of about a dozen com-
 mon organic pollutants to
 be 2 to 5 times higher in-
 side homes than outside,
 regardless of whether the
 homes were located in ru-
 ral or highly industrial
 areas. Additional TEAM
 studies indicate that while
 people are using products
 containing organic chemi-
 cals, they can expose
 themselves and others to
 very high pollutant levels,
 and elevated concentra-
 tions can persist in the air
 long after the activity is

 Health Effects of

The ability of organic
chemicals to cause health
effects varies greatly —
from those that are highly
toxic,  to those with no
known health effect. As
with other pollutants, the
extent and nature of the
health effect will depend
on many factors including
level of exposure and

 In recent years, a number of consumers have associated
 a variety of symptoms with the installation of new
 carpet. Scientists have not been able to determine
 whether the chemicals emitted by new carpets are
 responsible. If you are installing new carpet, you may
 wish to take the following steps:
 * Talk to your carpet retailer. Ask for information on
   emissions from carpet.

 • Ask the retailer to unroll and air out the carpet in'a
   well-ventilated area before installation,

 • Ask for low-emitting adhesives if adhesives are

 • Consider leaving the premises during and immedi-
   ately after carpet installation. You may wish to sched-
   ule the installation when most family members or of-
   fice Workers are out,

 • Be sure the retailer requires the installer to f ollo;w the
   Carpet and Rug Institute's installation guidelines.

 • Open doors and windows. Increasing the amount of
 .  fresh air in the home will reduce exposure to most
   chemicals released from carpet. During and after in-
-  stallation, use window fans, room air conditioners, or
   other mechanical ventilation equipment you may have
   installed in your house, to exhaust fumes to the out-
 "  doors. Keep them running for 48 to 72 hours after the
   new carpet is installed.

 • Contact your carpet retailer if objectionable odors
,-,  persist.

. • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper
  ' carpet maintenance.
 length of time exposed.
 Eye and respiratory tract
 irritation, headaches, diz-
 ziness, visual disorders,
 and memory impairment
 are among the immediate
 symptoms that some
 people have experienced
 soon after exposure to
 some organics. At present,
 not much is known about
 what health effects occur
 from the levels of organics
 usually found in homes.
 Many organic compounds
 are known to cause cancer
 in animals; some are sus-
 pected of causing, or are
 known to cause, cancer in
Reducing Exposure
to Household

•Follow label instruc-
tions carefully.
Potentially hazardous
products often have warn-
ings aimed at reducing ex-
posure of the user. For ex-
ample, if a label says to
use the product in a well-
ventilated area,  go out-
doors or in areas equipped
with an exhaust fan to use
it. Otherwise, open up
windows to provide the
maximum amount of out-
door air possible.
•Throw away partially
full containers of old or
unneeded chemicals
Because gases can leak
even from closed contain-
ers, this single step could
help lower concentrations
of organic chemicals in
your home. (Be sure that
materials you decide to
keep are stored not only in
a well-ventilated area but
are also safely out of reach
of children.) Do not sim-
ply toss these unwanted ,
products in the garbage
can. Find out if your local
government or any orga-
nization in your commu-
nity sponsors special days
for the collection of toxic
household wastes. If such
days are available, use
them to dispose of the un-
wanted containers safely.
If no such collection days
are available, think about
organizing one.
•Buy limited quantities.
If you use products only
occasionally or seasonally,
such as paints, paint strip-
pers, and kerosene for
space heaters or gasoline
for lawn mowers, buy
only as much as you will  ,
use right away.
•Keep exposure to emis-
sions from products con-
taining methylene chlo-
ride to a minimum.
Consumer products that
contain methylene chlo-
ride include paint strip-
pers, adhesive removers,
and aerosol spray paints.
Methylene chloride is
known to cause cancer in
animals. Also, methylene
chloride is converted to
carbon monoxide in the
body and can cause symp-
toms associated with ex-
posure to carbon monox-
ide. Carefully read the
labels containing health
hazard information and
cautions on the proper use
of these products. Use
products that contain me-
thylene chloride outdoors
when possible; use in-
doors Only if the area is
well ventilated.
•Keep exposure to ben-
zene to a minimum.
Benzene is a known hu-
man carcinogen. The main
indoor sources of this
chemical are environmen-
tal tobacco smoke, stored
fuels and paint supplies,
and automobile emissions
in attached garages. Ac-
tions that will reduce ben-
zene exposure include
eliminating smoking
within the home, provid-
ing for maximum ventila-
tion during painting, and
discarding paint supplies
and special fuels that will
not be used immediately.
•Keep exposure to per-
chloroethylene emissions
from newly dry-cleaned
materials to a minimum.
Perchloroethylene is the
chemical most widely
used in dry cleaning. In
laboratory studies, it has
been shown to cause can-
cer in animals. Recent
studies indicate that
people breathe low levels
of this chemical both in
homes where dry-cleaned
goods are stored and as
they wear dry-cleaned
clothing. Dry cleaners re-
capture the perchloroeth-
ylene during the dry-'
cleaning process so they
can save money by re-
using it, and they remove
more of the chemical dur-
ing the pres'sing and fin-
ishing processes. Some
dry cleaners, however, do
not remove as much per-
chloroethylene as possible

  all of the time. Taking
  steps to minimize your
  exposure to this chemical
  is prudent. If dry-cleaned
  goods have a strong
  chemical odor when you
  pick them up, do not ac-
  cept them until they have
  been properly dried. If
  goods with a chemical
  odor are returned to you
  on subsequent visits, try a
  different dry cleaner.


       Formaldehyde is an
       important chemical
       used widely by in-
  dustry to manufacture
  building materials and
  numerous household
  products. It is also a by-
  product of combustion
  and certain other natural
  processes. Thus, it may be
  present in substantial con-
  centrations both indoors
  and outdoors.
    Sources of formalde-
  hyde in the home include
  building materials, smok-
  ing, household products,
  and the use of unvented,
  fuel-burning appliances,
  like gas stoves or kerosene
  space heaters. Formalde-
  hyde, by itself or in combi-
  nation with other chemi-
  cals, serves a number of
  purposes in manufactured
  products. For example, it
  is used to add permanent-
  press qualities to clothing
  and draperies, as a com-
  ponent of glues and adhe-
  sives, and as a preserva-
  tive in some paints and
  coating products.
    In homes, the most sig-
  nificant sources of formal-
  dehyde are likely to be
  pressed wood products
  made using adhesives that
  contain urea-formalde-
  hyde (UF) resins. Pressed
  wood products made for
indoor use include: par-
ticleboard (used as
subflooring and shelving
and in cabinetry and fur-
niture); hardwood ply-
wood paneling (used for
decorative wall covering
and used in cabinets and
furniture); and medium
density fiberboard (used
for drawer fronts, cabi-
nets, and furniture tops).
Medium density fiber-
board contains a higher
resin-to-wood ratio than
any other UF pressed
wood product and is gen-
erally recognized as being
the highest formaldehyde-
emitting pressed wood
  Other pressed wood
products, such as soft-
wood plywood and flake
or oriented strandboard,
are produced for exterior
construction use and con-
tain the dark, or red/
black-colored phenol-
formaldehyde (PF) resin.
Although formaldehyde is
present in both types of
resins, pressed woods that
contain PF resin generally
emit formaldehyde at con-
siderably lower rates than
those containing UF resin.
  Since 1985, the Depart-
ment of Housing and Ur-
ban Development (HUD)
has permitted only the use
of plywood and particle-
board that conform to
specified formaldehyde
emission limits in the con-
struction of prefabricated
and mobile homes. In the
past, some of these homes
had elevated levels of
formaldehyde because of
the large amount of high-
emitting pressed wood
products used in their
construction and because
of their relatively small
interior space.
  The rate at which prod-
ucts like pressed wood or
textiles release formalde-
hyde can change. Formal-
dehyde emissions will
generally decrease as
products age. When the
products are new, high in-
door temperatures or hu-
midity can cause increased
release of formaldehyde
from these products.
  During the 1970s, many
homeowners had urea-
formaldehyde foam
insulation (UFFI) installed
in the wall cavities of their
homes as an energy con-
servation measure. How-
ever, many of these homes
were found to have rela-
tively high indoor concen-
trations of formaldehyde
soon after the UFFI instal-
lation. Few homes are
now being insulated with
this product. Studies
        (continued on page 23)

The pollutants listed in this guide have been shown to cause the health effects mentioned. However, it is not necessarily true that the ef-
fects noted occur at the pollutant concentration levels typically found in the home. In many cases, our understanding of the pollutants and
their health effects is too limited to determine the levels at which the listed effects could occur.

Sources: Earth and rock
beneath home; well water;
building materials.
Health Effects: No imme-
diate symptoms. Esti-
mated to contribute to be-
tween 7,000 and 30,000
lung cancer deaths each
year. Smokers are at
higher risk of developing
radon-induced lung
Levels in Homes: Based
on a national residential
radon survey completed
in 1991, the average in-
door radon level is 1.3
picocuries per liter (pCi/
L).  The average outdoor
level is about 0.4 pCi/L.
Steps to Reduce Exposure:
• Test your home for ra-
  don—if s easy and inex-
• Fix your home if your
  radon level is 4
  picocuries per liter
  (pCi/L) or higher.
• Radon levels less than 4
  pCi/L still pose a risk,
  and in many cases may
  be reduced.
• If you want more infor-
  mation on radon, con-
  tact your state radon of-
  fice, or call 800-S.OS RA-

Source: Cigarette, pipe,
and cigar smoking.
Health Effects: Eye, nose,
and throat irritation; head-
aches; lung cancer; may
contribute to heart dis-
ease. Specifically for chil-
dren, increased risk of
lower respiratory tract in-
fections, such as bronchitis
and pneumonia, and ear
infections; build-up of
fluid in the middle ear;
increased severity and fre-
quency of asthma epi-
sodes; decreased lung
Levels in Homes: Particle
levels in homes without
smokers or other strong
particle sources are the
same as, or lower than,
those outdoors. Homes
with one or more smokers
rnay have particle levels
several times higher than
outdoor levels.
Steps to Reduce Exposure:
• Do not smoke in your
  home or permit others
  to do so.
* Do not smoke if children
  are present, particularly
  infants and toddlers.
* If smoking indoors can-
  not be avoided, increase
  ventilation in the area
  where smoking takes
  place. Open windows
  or use exhaust fans.

            ,,     .  .
  Sources; Wet or, moist
  walls, ceilings, carpets,
  and furniture; poorly
  maintained humidifiers,
  dehumidifiers, and air
  conditioners; bedding;
  household pets.
  Health Effects: Eye, nose,
  and throat irritation;
  shortness of breath; dizzi-
  ness; lethargy; fever; di-
  gestive problems. Can
  cause asthma; humidifier
  fever; influenza and other
  Infectious diseases.
 '"Bevels in Homes: Indoor 1"
  levels of pollen and fungi
  are lower than outdoor
  levels (except where in-
  door sources of fungi are
  present). Indoor levels of
  dust mites aye higher than
  outdoor levels.
  Steps to Reduce Exposure:
  • Install and use fans
    vented to outdoors in
    kitchens and bathrooms.
  f Vent clothes dryers to
  * Clean cool mist and ul-
    trasonic humidifiers in
    accordance with
    manufacturer's instruct
    tipns and refill with
    clean water daily.
  .* Empty water trays in air
    conditioners, dehumidi-
    fiers, and refrigerators
  » Clean and dry or re-
    move water-damaged
  * Use basements as living
    areas only if they are
    leakproof and have
    adequate ventilation.
    Use delnjrnidif iers, if
    necessary, to maintain
    humidity between 30-50

Sources: Unvented kero-
sene and gas space heat-
ers; leaking chimneys and
furnaces; back-drafting
from furnaces, gas water
heaters, woodstoves, and
fireplaces; gas stoves. Au-
tomobile exhaust from at-
tached garages. Environ-
mental tobacco smoke.
Health Effects: At low con-
centrations, fatigue in
healthy people and chest
pain in people with heart
disease. At higher concen-
trations, impaired vision
and coordination; head-
aches; dizziness; confu-
sion; nausea. Can cause
flu-like symptoms that
clear up after leaving
home. Fatal at very high
Levels in Homes: Average
levels in homes without
gas stoves vary from 0.5 to
5 parts per million (ppm).
Levels near properly ad-
justed gas stoves are often
5 to 15 ppm and those
near poorly adjusted
stoves may be 30 ppm or
                                                            REFERENCE GUIDE TO MAJOR IN
 Steps to Reduce Exposure:
• Keep gas appliances
  properly adjusted.
• Consider purchasing a
  vented space heater
  when replacing an
  unvented one.
• Use proper fuel in kero-
  sene space heaters.
• Install and use an ex-
  haust fan vented to out-
  doors over gas stoves.
• Open flues when fire-
  places are in use.
• Choose properly sized
  woodstoves that are cer-
  tified to meet EPA emis-
  sion standards. Make
  certain that doors on all
  woodstoves fit tightly.
• Have a trained profes-
  sional inspect, clean, and
  tune-up central heating
  system (furnaces, flues,
  and chimneys) annually.
  Repair any leaks
• Do not idle the car in-
  side garage.
                          NITROGEN DIOXIDE

                          Sources: Kerosene heaters,
                          unvented gas stoves and
                          heaters. Environmental
                          tobacco smoke.
                          Health Effects: Eye, nose,
                          and throat irritation. May
                          cause impaired lung func-
                          tion and increased respira-
                          tofy infections in young
                          Levels in Homes: Average
                          level in homes without
                          combustion appliances is
                          about half that of out-
                          doors. In homes with gas
                          stoves, kerosene heaters,
                          or unvented gas space
                          heaters, indoor levels of-
                          ten exceed outdoor levels.
                          Steps to Reduce Exposure:
                          See steps under carbon


 Sources: Household prod-
 ucts including: paints,
 paint strippers, and other
 solvents; wood preserva-
 tives; aerosol sprays;
 cleansers and disinfec-
 tants; moth repellents and
 air fresheners; stored fuels
 and automotive products;
 hobby supplies; dry-
 cleaned clothing.
 Health Effects: Eye, nose,
 and throat irritation; head-
 aches, loss of coordina-
 tion, nausea; damage to
 liver, kidney, and central
 nervous system. Some or-
 ganics can cause cancer in
 animals; some are sus-
 pected or known to cause
 cancer in humans.
Levels in Homes: Studies
have found that levels of
several organics average 2
to 5 times higher indoors
than outdoors. During and
for several hours immedi-
ately after certain activi-
ties, such as paint strip-
ping, levels may be 1,000
times background outdoor
Steps to Reduce Exposure:
• Use household products
  according to manufac-
  turer's directions.
• Make sure you provide
  plenty of fresh air when
  using these products.
• Throw away unused or
  little-used containers
  safely; buy in quantities
  that you will use soon.
• Keep out of reach of
  children and pets.
• Never mix household
  care products unless di-
  rected on the label.

Sources: Fire-
places, woodstoves,
and kerosene heaters.
Environmental tobacco
Health Effects: Eye, nose,
and throat irritation; respi-
ratory infections and bron-
chitis; lung cancer. (Effects
attributable to environ-
mental tobacco smoke are
listed elsewhere.)
Levels in Homes: Particle
levels in homes without
smoking or other strong
particle  sources are the
same as, or lower than,
outdoor levels.
Steps to Reduce Exposure:
• Vent all furnaces to out-
  doors; keep doors to rest
  of house open when us-
  ing unvented space
• Choose properly sized
  woodstoves, certified to
  meet EPA emission stan-
  dards; make certain that
  doors on all woodstoves
  fit tightly.
* Have a trained profes-
  sional inspect, clean, and.
  tune-up central heating
  system (furnace, flues,
  and chimneys) annually.
  Repair any leaks
• Change filters on central
  heating and cooling sys-
  tems and air cleaners
  according to manufac-
  turer's directions.

 Sources: Pressed wood
 products (hardwood ply-
 wood wall paneling, par-
 ticleboard, fiberboard) and
 furniture made with these
 pressed wood products.
 Urea-formaldehyde foam
 insulation (UFFI). Com-
 bustion sources and envi-
ronmental tobacco smoke.
Durable press drapes,
other textiles, and glues.
Health Effects: Eye, nose,
and throat irritation;
wheezing and coughing;
fatigue; skin rash; severe
allergic reactions. May
cause cancer. May also
cause other effects listed
under "organic gases."
Levels in Homes: Average
concentrations in older
homes without UEFI are
generally well below 0.1
(ppm). In homes with sig-
nificant amounts of new
pressed wood products,
levels can be greater than
0.3 ppm.
Steps to Reduce Exposure:
• Use "exterior-grade"
  pressed wood products
  (lower-emitting because
  they contain phenol res-
  ins, not urea resins).
• Use air conditioning and
  dehumidifiers to main-
  tain moderate tempera-
  ture and reduce humid-
  ity levels.
• Increase ventilation, par-
  ticularly after bringing
  new sources of formal-
  dehyde into the home.

           4, termiticides,
  IMd disinfectants). Also,
  products used on lawns
 i jppd gardens that drift or
  are tracked inside the
  Health Effects: Irritation to
  eye, nose, and throat;
  damage to central nervous
  system and kidney; in-
  creased risk of cancer.
  Levels in Homes: Prelimi-
  nary research shows wide-
  spread presence of pesti-
  cide residues.in hqmes.
  Steps to Reduce Exposure:
  • Use strictly according to
    manufacturer's direc-
  *,' Islix'pr dilute outdoors.'
  * Apply only in recom-
   mended quantities.
  * Increase ventilation
   when using indoors.
   Take plants or pets out-
   doors when applying
   pesticides to them.
  * Use nonchemical meth-
   ods of pest control
   where possible.
 • If you use a pest control
  company, select it care-
 • Do not store unneeded
  pesticides inside home;
  dispose of unwanted
  containers safely.
 • Store clothes with moth
  repellents in separately
  ventilated areas, if pos-
 • Keep indoor spaces
  clean, dry, and well ven-
  tilated to avoid pest and
  odor problems.


Sources: Deteriorating,
damaged, or disturbed in-
sulation, fireproofing,
acoustical materials, and
floor tiles.
Health Effects: No imme-
diate symptoms, but long-
term risk of chest and ab-
dominal cancers and lung
diseases. Smokers are at
higher risk of developing
asbestos-induced lung
Levels in Homes: Elevated
levels can occur in homes
where asbestos-containing
materials are damaged or
Steps to Reduce Exposure:
• It is best to leave un-
  damaged asbestos mate-
  rial alone if it is not
  likely to be disturbed.
• Use trained and quali-
  fied contractors for con-
  trol measures that may
  disturb asbestos and for
• Follow proper proce-
  dures in replacing wood-
  stove door gaskets that
  may contain asbestos.


Sources: Lead-based
p'aint, contaminated soil,
dust, and drinking water.
Health Effects: Lead af-
fects practically all sys-
tems within the body.
Lead at high levels (lead
levels at or above 80 mi-
crograms per deciliter (80
ug/dl) of blood) can cause
convulsions, coma, and
even death.  Lower levels
of lead can cause adverse
health effects on the cen-
tral nervous system, kid-
ney, and blood cells.
Blood lead levels as low as
10 !^g/dl can impair men-
tal and physical develop-
Steps to Reduce Exposure:
• Keep areas where chil-
  dren play as dust-free
  and clean as possible.
• Leave lead-based paint
  undisturbed if it is in
  good condition; do not
  sand or burn off paint
  that may contain lead,
* Do not remove lead
  paint yourself.
* Do not bring lead dust
  into the home.
* If your work or hobby
  involves lead, change
  clothes and use door-
  mats before entering
  your home.
• Eat a balanced diet, rich
  in calcium and iron.

Pressed wood products made with phenol-formaldehyde are
sometimes stamped to indicate they are suitable for exterior use.
In general, phenol-formaldehyde wood products emit less formal-
dehyde than wood products made with urea-formaldehyde.
show that formaldehyde
emissions from UFFI de-
cline with time; therefore,
homes in which UFFI was
installed many years ago
are unlikely to have high
levels of formaldehyde

Health Effects of
Formaldehyde, a colorless,
pungent-smelling gas, can
cause watery eyes, burn-
ing sensations in the eyes
and throat, nausea, and
difficulty in breathing in
some humans exposed at
elevated levels (above 0.1
parts per million). High
concentrations may trig-
ger attacks in people with
asthma. There is evidence
that some people can de-
velop a sensitivity to
formaldehyde. It has also
been shown to cause can-
cer in animals and may
cause cancer in humans.
Reducing Exposure
to Formaldehyde in

•Ask about the formalde-
hyde content of pressed
wood products, including
building materials,
cabinetry, and furniture
before you purchase
If you experience adverse
reactions to formaldehyde,
you may want to avoid
the use of pressed wood
products and other form-
aldehyde-emitting goods.
Even if you do not experi-
ence such reactions, you
may wish to reduce your
exposure as much as pos-
sible by purchasing exte-
rior-grade products,
which emit less formalde-
hyde. For further informa-
tion on formaldehyde and
consumer products, call
the EPA Toxic Substance
Control Act (TSCA) assis-
tance line (202-554-1404).
  Some studies suggest
that coating pressed wood
products with polyure-
 thane may reduce form-
   aldehyde emissions for
    some period of time.
      To be effective, any
       such coating must
         cover all sur-
           faces and
             edges and
              remain in-
              tact. In-
              crease the
       and carefully fol-
"   low the
manufacturer's instruc-
tions while applying these
coatings. (If you are sensi-
tive to formaldehyde,
check the label contents
before purchasing coating
products to avoid buying
products that contain
formaldehyde, as they will
emit the chemical for a
short time  after applica-
•Maintain moderate tem-
perature and humidity
levels and provide ad-
equate ventilation.
The rate at which formal-
dehyde is released is ac-
celerated by heat and may
also depend somewhat on
the humidity level. There-
fore, the use of dehumidi-
fiers and air conditioning
to control humidity and to
maintain a moderate tem-
perature can help reduce
formaldehyde emissions.
 (Drain and clean dehu-
midifier collection trays
frequently so that they do
not become a breeding
 ground for microorgan-
 isms.) Increasing the rate
 of ventilation in your
 home will also help in re-
 ducing formaldehyde
        According to a re-
        cent survey, 75
        percent  of U.S.
households used at least
one pesticide product in-
doors during the past
year. Products used most
often are insecticides and
disinfectants. Another
study suggests that 80-90
percent of most people's
exposure to pesticides
occurs indoors and that
measurable levels of up to
a dozen pesticides have
been found in the air in-
side homes. The  amount
of pesticides found in
homes appears to be
greater than can be ex-
plained by recent pesticide
use in those households;
other possible sources in-
clude contaminated soil
or dust that floats or is
tracked in from outside,
stored pesticide contain-
ers, and household sur-
faces that collect and then
release the pesticides.
Pesticides used in and
around the home include
products to control insects
(insecticides), termites
(termiticides), rodents
(rodenticides), fungi (fun-
gicides), and microbes
(disinfectants). They are
sold as sprays, liquids,
sticks, powders, crystals,
balls, and foggers.
   In 1990, the American
Association of Poison
 Control Centers reported
 that some 79,000 children
were involved in common
 household pesticide poi-
 sonings or exposures. In
 households -with children
 under five years old, al-
 most one-half stored at
 least one pesticide product
 within reach of children.

   EPA registers pesticides
 for use and requires
 manufacturers to put in-
 formation on the label
 about when and how to
 use the pesticide. It is im-
 portant to remember that
 the "-cide" in pesticides
 means "to kill." Tltese prod-
 ucts can fe dangerous if not
   In addition to the active
 ingredient, pesticides are
 also made up of ingredi-
 ents that are used to carry
 the active agent. These
 carrier agents are called
 "inerts" in pesticides be-
 cause they are not toxic to
 the targeted pest; never-
 theless/ some inerts are
 capable of causing health

 Health Effects From
 Both the active and inert
 ingredients in pesticides
 can be organic com-
 pounds; therefore, both
 could add to the levels of
 airborne organics inside
homes. Both types of in-
gredients can cause the
effects discussed in this
booklet under "Household
 Products." However, as
 with other household
 products, there is insuffi-
 cient understanding at
 present about what pesti-
 cide concentrations are
 necessary to produce these
  Exposure to high levels
 of cyclodiene pesticides,
 commonly associated with
 misapplication, has pro-
 duced various symptoms,
 including headaches, diz-
 ziness, muscle twitching,
 weakness, tingling sensa-
 tions, and nausea. In addi-
 tion, EPA is concerned
 that cyclodienes might
 cause long-term damage
 to the liver and the central
 nervous system, as well as
 an increased risk of cancer.
  There is no further sale
 or commercial use permit-
 ted for the following cy-
 clodiene or related pesti-
 cides: chlordane, aldrin,
 dieldrin, and heptachlor.
The only exception is the
use of heptachlor by util-
ity companies to control
fire ants in underground
cable boxes.
 Reducing Exposure
 to Pesticides in

 •Read the label and fol-
 low the directions. It is
 illegal to use any pesti-
 cide in any manner in-
 consistent with the direc-
 tions on its label.
 Unless you have had spe-
 cial training and are certi-
 fied, never use a pesticide
 that is restricted to use by
 state-certified pest control
 operators. Such pesticides
 are simply too dangerous
 for application by a
 noncertified person. Use
 only the pesticides ap-
 proved for use by the gen-
 eral public and then only
 in recommended  amounts;
 increasing the amount
 does not offer more pro-
 tection against pests and
 can be harmful to you and
 your plants and pets.
 •Ventilate the area well
 after pesticide use.
 Mix or dilute pesticides
 outdoors or in a well-ven-
 tilated area and only in the
 amounts that will be im-
 mediately needed. If pos-
 sible, take plants and pets
 outside when applying
 pesticides to them.
 •Use nonchemical
 methods of pest control
 when possible.
 Since pesticides can be
 found far from the site of
 their original application,
 it is prudent to reduce the
 use of chemical pesticides
 outdoors as well as in-
 doors. Depending on the
 site and pest to be con-
 trolled, one or more of the
 following steps can be ef-
 fective: use of biological
pesticides, such as Bacillus
 thuringiensis, for the con-
trol of gypsy moths; selec-
tion of disease-resistant
 plants; and frequent wash-
 ing of indoor plants and
 pets. Termite damage can
 be reduced or prevented
 by making certain that
 wooden building materi-
 als do not come into direct
 contact with the soil and
 by storing firewood away
 from the home. By appro-
 priately fertilizing, water-
 ing, and aerating lawns,
 the need for chemical pes-
 ticide treatments of lawns
 can be dramatically re-
 •If you decide to use a
 pest control company,
 choose one carefully.
 Ask for an inspection of
 your home and get a writ-
 ten control program for
 evaluation before you sign
 a contract. The control
 program should list spe-
 cific names of pests to be
 controlled and chemicals
 to be used; it should also
 reflect any of your safety
 concerns. Insist on a
 proven record of compe-
 tence and customer satis-

 •Dispose of unwanted
 pesticides safely.
 If you have unused or par-
 tially used pesticide con-
 tainers you want to get rid
 of, dispose of them ac-
 cording to the directions
 on the label or on special
 household hazardous
 waste collection days.  If
 there are no such collec-
 tion days in your commu-
 nity, work with others to
 organize them.
 •Keep exposure to moth
 repellents to a minimum.
One pesticide often found
in the home is paradichlo-
robenzene, a commonly
used active ingredient in
moth repellents. This
chemical is known to

cause cancer in animals,
but substantial scientific
uncertainty exists over the
effects, if any, of long-term
human exposure to
paradichlorobenzene. EPA
requires that products
containing paradichlo-
robenzene bear warnings
such as "avoid breathing
vapors" to warn users of
potential short-term toxic
effects. Where possible,  —
paradichlorobenzene, and
items to be protected
against moths, should be
placed in trunks or other
containers that can be
stored in areas that are
separately ventilated from
the home, such as attics
and detached garages.
Paradichlorobenzene is
also the key active ingredi-
ent in many air fresheners
(in fact, some labels for
moth repellents recom-
mend that these same
products be used as air
fresheners or deodorants).
Proper ventilation and ba-
sic household cleanliness
will go a long way toward
preventing unpleasant
• Call the National Pesti-
cide Telecommunications
Network (NPTN).
EPA sponsors the NPTN
(800-858-PEST) to answer
your questions about pes-
ticides and to provide se-
lected EPA publications on
 There are simple steps people
 can take to prevent, reduce, or
 control pest infestations. Such
 techniques can become part of
 an overall pest management
 program (sometimes called
 "integrated" pest management)
 that relies on many techniques,
 not just chemicals.
        Asbestos is a min-
        eral fiber that has
        been used com-
monly in a variety of
building construction ma-
terials for insulation and
as a fire-retardant. EPA
and CPSC have banned
several asbestos products.
Manufacturers have also
voluntarily limited uses of
asbestos. Today, asbestos
is most commonly found
in older homes, in pipe
and furnace insulation
materials, asbestos
shingles, millboard, tex-
tured paints and other
coating materials, and
floor tiles.
  Elevated concentrations
of airborne asbestos can
occur after asbestos-con-
taining materials are dis-
turbed by cutting, sanding
or other remodeling activi-
ties. Improper attempts to
remove these materials
can release asbestos fibers
into the air in homes, in-
creasing asbestos levels
and endangering people
living in those homes.

Health Effects of

The most dangerous as-
bestos fibers are too small
to be visible. After they
 are inhaled, they can re-
 main and accumulate in
 the lungs. Asbestos can
 cause lung cancer, meso-
 thelioma (a cancer of the
 chest and abdominal lin-
 ings), and asbestosis (irre-
 versible lung scarring that
 can be fatal). Symptoms
 of these diseases do not
 show up until many years
 after exposure began.
 Most people with asbes-
 tos-related diseases were
 exposed  to elevated con-
 centrations on the job;


some developed disease
from exposure to clothing
and equipment brought
home from job sites.
Reducing Exposure
to Asbestos in
•Learn how asbestos
problems are created in
homes. Read the booklet,
Asbestos in Your Home,
issued by CPSC, the ALA,
and EPA.
To contact these organiza-
tions, see the section,
"Where to Go For More
 •If you think your home
 may have asbestos, don't
 Usually it is best to leave
 asbestos material that is in
 good condition alone.
 Generally, material in
 good condition will not
 release asbestos fiber.
 There is no danger unless
 fibers are released and in-
 haled into the lungs.
 •Do not cut, rip, or sand
 asbestos-containing mate-
 Leave undamaged materi-
 als alone and, to the extent
 possible, prevent them
 from being damaged, dis-
 turbed, or touched. Peri-
 odically inspect for dam-
 age or deterioration. Dis-
 card damaged or worn
 asbestos gloves, stove-top
pads, or ironing board
covers. Check with local
health, environmental, or
other appropriate officials
to find out about proper
handling and disposal
  If asbestos material is
more than slightly dam-
aged, or if you are going
to make changes in your
home that might disturb
it, repair or removal by a
professional is needed.
Before you have your
house remodeled, find out
whether asbestos materi-
als are present.
•When you need to re-
move or clean up asbes-
tos, use a professionally
trained contractor.
Select a contractor only
after careful discussion of
the problems in your
home and the steps the
contractor will take to
clean up or remove them.
Consider the option of
sealing off the materials
instead of removing them.
  Call EPA'sTSCA assis-
tance line (202-554-1404)
to find out whether your
state has a training and
certification program for
asbestos removal contrac-
tors and for information
on EPA's asbestos pro-

      Lead has long been
      recognized as a
      harmful environ-
 mental pollutant. In late
 1991, the Secretary of the
 Department of Health and
 Human Services called
 lead the "number one en-
 vironmental threat to the
 health of children in the
 United States." There are
 many ways in which hu-
 mans are exposed to lead:
 through air, drinking wa-
 ter, food, contaminated
 soil, deteriorating paint,
 and dust. Airborne lead
 enters the body when an
 individual breathes or
 swallows lead particles or
 dust once it has settled.
 Before it was known how
 harmful lead could be, it
 was used in paint, gaso-
 line, water pipes, and
 many other products.
  Old lead-based paint is
 the most significant source
 of lead exposure  in the
 U.S. today. Harmful expo-
 sures to lead can be cre-
 ated when lead-based
 paint is improperly re-
 moved from surfaces by
 dry scraping, sanding, or
 open-flame burning. High
 concentrations of airborne
 lead particles in homes
 can also result from lead
 dust from outdoor
 sources, including con-
 taminated soil tracked in-
 side, and use of lead in
 certain indoor activities
 such as soldering and
 stained-glass making.

 Health Effects of
 Exposure to Lead
Lead affects practically all
systems within the body.
At high levels it can cause
convulsions, coma, and
even death. Lower levels
of lead can adversely af-

feet the brain, central ner-
vous system, blood cells,
and kidneys.
  The effects of lead expo-
sure on fetuses and young
children can be severe.
They include delays in
physical and mental de-
velopment, lower IQ lev-
els, shortened attention
spans, and increased
behavioral problems.
Fetuses, infants, and chil-
dren are more vulnerable
to lead exposure than
adults since lead is more
easily absorbed into grow-
ing bodies, and the tissues
of small children are more
sensitive to the damaging
effects of lead. Children
may have higher expo-
sures since they are more
likely to get lead dust on
their hands and then put
their fingers or other lead-
contaminated objects into
their mouths.
  Get your child tested for
lead exposure. To find out
where to do this, call your
doctor or local health
clinic. For more informa-
tion on health effects, get a
copy of the Centers for
Disease Control's, Prevent-
ing Lead Poisoning in Young
Children (October 1991).

Ways to Reduce
Exposure to Lead

•Keep areas where chil-
dren play as dust-free
and clean as possible.
Mop floors and wipe win-
dow ledges and chewable
surfaces such as cribs with
a solution of powdered
automatic dishwasher de-
tergent in warm water.
(Dishwasher detergents
are recommended because
of their high content of
phosphate.) Most multi-
purpose cleaners will not
remove lead in ordinary
dust. Wash toys and
stuffed animals regularly.
Make sure that children
wash their hands before
meals, nap time, and bed-
•Reduce the risk from
lead-based paint.
Most homes built before
1960 contain heavily
leaded paint. Some homes
built as recently as 1978
may also contain lead
paint. This paint could be
on window frames, walls,
the outside of homes, or
other surfaces.  Do not
burn painted wood since
it may  contain lead.
•Leave lead-based paint
undisturbed if it is in
good condition—do not
sand or burn off paint
that may contain lead.
Lead paint in good condi-
tion is usually not a prob-
lem except in places where
painted surfaces rub
against each other and
create dust (for example,
opening a window).
•Do not remove lead
paint yourself.
Individuals  have been
poisoned by scraping or
sanding lead paint be-
cause these activities gen-
erate large amounts of
lead dust. Consult your
state health  or housing de-
partment for suggestions
on which private laborato-
ries or public agencies
may be able to help test
your home for lead in
paint.  Home test kits can-
not detect small amounts
of lead under some condi-
tions.  Hire a person with
special training for cor-
recting lead paint prob-
lems to remove lead-based
paint.  Occupants, espe-
cially children and preg-
Do not remove lead-based paint by scraping, sanding, or burning
it off. Such removal techniques can result in lead levels in the air
that are 10 to 100 times higher than normal.
nant women, should leave
the building until all work
is finished and clean-up is
  For additional informa-
tion dealing with lead-
based paint abatement
contact the Department of
Housing and Urban De-
velopment for the follow-
ing two documents: Com-
prehensive and Workable
Plan for the Abatement of
Lead-Based Paint in Pri-
vately Owned Housing: Re-
port to Congress (December
7,1990) and Lead-Based
Paint: Interim Guidelines for
Hazard Identification and
Abatement in Public and In-
dian Housing (September
•Do not bring lead dust
into the home.
If you work in construc-
tion, demolition, painting,
with batteries, in a radia-
tor repair shop or lead fac-
tory, or your hobby in-
volves lead, you may un-
knowingly bring lead into
your home on your hands
or clothes.  You may also
be tracking in lead from
soil around your home.
Soil very close to homes
may be contaminated
from lead paint on the
outside of the building.
Soil by roads and high-
ways may be contami-
nated from years of ex-
haust fumes from cars and
trucks that used leaded
gas. Use door mats to
wipe your feet before en-
tering the home. If you
work with lead in your job
or a hobby, change your
clothes before you go
home and wash these
clothes separately. En-
courage your children to
play in sand and grassy
areas instead of dirt which
sticks to fingers and toys.
Try to keep your children
from eating dirt, and make
sure they wash their
hands when they come
• Find out about lead in
drinking water.
Most well and city water
does not usually contain
lead. Water  usually picks
up lead inside the home
from household plumbing
that is made with lead ma-
terials. The only way to
know if there is lead in
drinking water is to have
it tested. Contact the local
health department or the

  water supplier to find out
  how to get the water
  tested. Send for the EPA
  pamphlet, Lead and Your
  Drinking Water, for more
  information about what
  you can do if you have
  lead in your drinking wa-
  ter. Call EPA's Safe Drink-
  ing Water Hotline (800-
  426-4791) for more infor-
  •Eat right.
  A child who gets enough
  iron and calcium will ab-
  sorb less lead. Foods rich
  in iron include eggs, red
  meats, and beans.  Dairy
  products are high in cal-
  cium. Do not store food or
  liquid in lead crystal glass-
  ware or imported or old
  pottery.  If you reuse old
  plastic bags to store or
  carry food, keep the print-
  ing on the outside of the
    You can get a brochure,
  Lead Poisoning and Your
  Children, and more infor-
  mation by calling the Na-
  tional Lead Information
  Center, 800-LEAD-FYL

                WHEN BUILDING A NEW HOME
Ill	,	if lli'Jj	' !'jli"iHI|, ,; 'tllli
        uilding a new
        home provides the
        opportunity for
, preventing indoor air
;!jpfdblems. However, it can
j result in exposure to high-
i er levels of indoor air
 contaminants if careful atr
• tention is not given to po-
[ tential pollution sources
 and the air exchange rate.
   Express your concerns
 aboutindoor air quality to
^dur architect or builder
 and enlist his or her coop-
 eration in taking measures
 to provide good indoor air
 quality. Talk both about
 purchasing building mat-
 erials and.furnishings that
 are iow-emitting and ab-
 out providing an adequate
 amount of ventilation.
   The American Society of
 Heating, Refrigerating,
 and Air-Conditioning En-
 gineers recommends a
 ventilation rate of 0.35 ach
 (air changes per hour) for
 new homes, and some
 new homes are built to
 even tighter specifications.
 Particular care should be
 given in such homes to
 preventing the build-up of
 indoor air pollutants to
 high levels.
   Here are a few impor-
 tant actions that can make
 a difference:

 •Use radon-resistant con-
 struction techniques.
 Obtain a copy of the EPA
booklet, Radon-Resistant
Construction Techniques for
Residential Construction,
from your state radon
office,or health.agency,
your state homebuilders'
association, or your EPA
regional office.
• Choose building materi-
als and furnishings that
will keep indoor air pol-
lution to a minimum.
There are many actions  a
homeowner can take to
select products that will
prevent indoor air prob-
lems from occurring—a
couple of them are men-
tioned here. First, use
exterior-grade pressed
wood products made with
resin in floors, cabinetry,
and wall surfaces. Or, as
an alternative, consider
using solid wood prod-
ucts. Secondly, if you plan
to install wall-to-wall car-
pet on concrete in contact
with the ground, espe-
cially concrete in base-
ments, make sure that an
effective moisture barrier
is installed prior to install-
ing the carpet. Do not per-
manently adhere carpet  to
concrete with adhesives so
that the carpet can be re-
moved if it becomes wet.
•Provide proper drainage
and seal foundations in
new construction.
 Air that enters the home
 through the foundation
 can contain more moisture
 than is generated from all
 occupant activities.
 •Become familiar with
 mechanical ventilation
 systems and consider in-
 stalling one.
 Advanced designs of new
 homes are starting to fea-
 ture mechanical systems
 that bring outdoor air into
 the home. Some of these
 designs include energy-
 efficient heat recovery
 ventilators (also known as
 air-to-air heat exchangers).
 •Ensure that combustion
 appliances, including fur-
 naces, fireplaces,
 woodstoves, and heaters,
 are properly vented and
 receive enough supply
 Combustion gases, includ-
 ing carbon monoxide, and
 particles can be back-
 drafted from the chimney
 or flue into the living
 space if the combustion
 appliance is not properly
 vented or does not receive
 enough supply air. Back-
 drafting can be a particu-
 lar problem in weather-
 ized or tightly constructed
 homes,  installing a dedi-
 cated outdoor air supply
 for the combustion appli-
 aji.ce can help prevent

   Indoor air quality
   problems are not
   limited to homes. In
fact, many office buildings
have significant air pollu-
tion sources. Some of
these buildings may be
inadequately ventilated.
For example, mechanical
ventilation systems may
not be designed or oper-
ated to provide adequate
amounts of outdoor air.
Finally, people generally
have less control over the
indoor environment in
their offices than they do
in their homes. As a re-
sult, there has been an in-
crease in the incidence of
reported health problems.


A number of well-identi-
fied illnesses, such as
Legionnaire's disease,
asthma, hypersensitivity
pneumonitis, and humidi-
fier fever, have been di-
rectly traced to specific
building problems. These
are called building-related
illnesses.  Most of these
diseases can be treated—
nevertheless, some pose
serious risks.
  Sometimes, however,
building occupants experi-
ence symptoms that do
not fit the pattern of any
particular illness and are
difficult to trace to any
specific source. This phe-
nomenon has been labeled
sick building syndrome.
People may complain of
one  or more of the follow-
ing symptoms: dry or
burning mucous mem-
branes in the nose, eyes,
and throat; sneezing;
stuffy or runny nose; fa-
tigue or lethargy; head-
ache; dizziness; nausea;
irritability and forgetful-
ness. Poor lighting, noise,
vibration, thermal discom-
fort, and psychological
stress may also cause, or
contribute to, these symp-
  There is no single man-
ner in which these health
problems appear. In some
cases, problems begin as
workers enter their offices
and diminish as workers
leave; other times, symp-
toms continue until the
illness is treated. Some-
times there are outbreaks
of illness among many
workers in a single build-
ing; in other cases, health
symptoms show up only
in individual workers.
  In the opinion of some
World Health Organiza-
tion experts, up to 30 per-
cent of new or remodeled
commercial buildings may
have unusually high rates
of health and comfort
complaints from occu-
pants that may potentially
be related to indoor air


Three major reasons for
poor indoor air quality in
office buildings are the
presence of indoor air pol-
lution sources; poorly de-
signed, maintained, or op-
erated ventilation systems;
and uses of the building
that were unanticipated or
poorly planned for when
the building was designed
or renovated.

Sources of Office Air
As with homes, the most
important factor influenc-
ing indoor air quality is
the presence of pollutant
sources. Commonly found
office pollutants and their
sources include environ-
mental tobacco smoke; as-
bestos from insulating and
fire-retardant building
supplies; formaldehyde
from pressed wood prod-
ucts; other organics from
building materials, carpet,
and other office furnish-
ings, cleaning materials
and activities, restroom air
fresheners, paints, adhe-
sives, copying machines,
and photography and
print shops; biological
contaminants from dirty
ventilation systems or wa-
ter-damaged walls, ceil-
ings, and carpets; and pes-
ticides from pest manage-
ment practices.

Ventilation Systems
Mechanical ventilation
systems in large buildings
are designed and operated
not only to heat and cool
the air, but also to draw in
and circulate outdoor air.
If they are poorly de-
signed, operated, or main-
tained, however, ventila-
tion systems can contrib-
ute to indoor air problems
in several ways.
  For example, problems
arise when, in an effort to
save energy, ventilation
systems are not used to
bring in adequate
amounts of outdoor air.
Inadequate ventilation
also occurs if the air sup-
ply and return vents
within each room are
blocked or placed in such
a way that outdoor air
does,not actually reach the
breathing zone of building
occupants. Improperly lo-
cated outdoor air intake
vents can also bring in air
contaminated with auto-
mobile and truck exhaust,
boiler emissions, fumes
from dumpsters, or air
   vented from rest-
  «   rooms. Finally, venti-
  I   lation systems can
  *    be a source of in-

  door pollution themselves
  by spreading biological
  contaminants that have
  multiplied in cooling tow-
  ers, humidifiers, dehu-
  midifiers, air conditioners,
  or the inside surfaces of
  ventilation duct work.

  Use of the Building

  Indoor air pollutants can
  be circulated from por-
  tions of the building used
  for specialized purposes,
  such as restaurants, print
  shops, and dry-cleaning
  stores, into offices in the
  same building. Carbon
  monoxide and other com-
  ponents of automobile ex-
  haust can be drawn from
  underground parking ga-
  rages through stairwells
  and elevator shafts into
  office spaces.
    In addition, buildings
  originally designed for
  one purpose may end up
  being converted to use as
  office space. If not
  properly modified
during building renova-
tions, the room partitions
and ventilation system can
contribute to indoor air
quality problems by re-
stricting air recirculation
or by providing an inad-
equate supply of
outdoor air.


If you or others at your
office are experiencing
health or comfort prob-
lems that you suspect may
be caused by indoor air
pollution, you can do the
•Talk with other workers,
your supervisor, and
union representatives to
see if the problems are be-
ing experienced by others
and urge that a record of
reported health com-
plaints be kept by man-
    agement, if one has
        not already been

         • Talk with your
         own physician
 and report your problems
 to the company physician,
 nurse, or health and safety

 •Call your state or local
 health department or air
 pollution control agency
 to talk over the symptoms
 and possible causes.

 •Encourage building
 management to obtain a
 copy of Building Air Qual-
 ity: A Guide for Building
 Owners and Facility Manag-
 ers.  Building Air Quality
 (BAQ) is simply written,
 yet provides comprehen-
 sive information for iden-
 tifying, correcting, and
 preventing indoor air
 quality problems. BAQ
 also provides supporting
 information such as when
 and how to select outside
 technical assistance, how
 to communicate with oth-
 ers regarding indoor air
 issues, and where to find
 additional sources of in-
 formation. BAQ is avail-
 able for $24 from U.S.
 GPO, Superintendent of
 Documents, P.O. Box
 371954, Pittsburgh, PA
 15250-7954; stock #055-
 000-00390-4 or call
 (202) 783-3238.

 •Frequently, indoor air
 quality problems in large
 commercial buildings can-
 not be effectively identi-
 fied or remedied without a
 comprehensive building
 investigation. These inves-
 tigations may start with
 written questionnaires
 and telephone consulta-
 tions in which building
 investigators assess the
 history of occupant symp-
 toms and building opera-
 tion procedures. In some
 cases, these inquiries may
 quickly uncover the prob-
lem and on-site visits are
 •More often, however/in-
 vestigators will need to
 come to the building to
 conduct personal inter-
 views with occupants, to
 look for possible sources
 of the problems, and to
 inspect the design and op-
 eration of the ventilation
 system and other building
 features. Because taking
 measurements of pollut-
 ants at the very low levels
 often found in office
 buildings is expensive and
 may not yield information
 readily useful in identify-
 ing problem sources, in-
 vestigators may not take
 many measurements. The
 process of solving indoor
 air quality problems that
 result in health and com-
 fort complaints can be a
 slow one, involving sev-
 eral trial solutions before
 successful remedial ac-
 tions are identified.

 •If a professional com-
 pany is hired to conduct
 a building investigation,
 select a company on the
 basis of its experience in
 identifying and solving
 indoor air quality prob-
 lems in nonindustrial

 •Work with others to es-
 tablish a smoking policy
 that eliminates involun-
 tary nonsmoker exposure
 to environmental tobacco

 • Call the National Insti-
 tute for Occupational
 Safety and Health
 (NIOSH) for information
 on obtaining a health haz-
 ard evaluation of your of-
fice (800-35NIOSH),  or ;
contact the Occupational
Safety and Health Admin-
istration, (202) 219-8151.


  Federal agencies with
indoor air quality infor-
mation may be contacted
as follows:
U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA)
Public Information Center
401 M St., SW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 260-7751

Indoor Air Quality Infor-
mation Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 37133
Washington, DC 20013-7133
(800)438-4318; (202)484-1307
Operates Monday to Fri-
day from 9 to 5 Eastern
Standard Time (EST). Dis-
tributes EPA publications,
answers questions on the
phone, and makes refer-
rals to other nonprofit and
governmental organiza-

National Radon Hotline
Information recording op-
erates 24 hours a day.
National Lead
Information Center
(800) LEAD-FYI
Operates 24 hours a day,
seven days a week. Callers
may order an information
package. To speak to an
information specialist, call
(800)424-5323. Operates
Monday to Friday from
8:30 to 5 EST.

National Pesticides Tele-
communications Network
National toll-free number:
(800) 858-PEST
In Texas: (806) 743-3091
Operates Monday to Fri-
day from 8 to 6 Central
Standard Time. Provides
information about pesti-
cides to the general public
and the medical, veteri-
nary, and professional

National toll-free number:
(800) 424-9346
In Washington, DC area:
(703) 412-9810
Operates Monday to Fri-
day from 8:30 to 7:30 EST.
Provides information on
regulations under both the
Resources Conservation
and Recovery Act (includ-
ing solid and hazardous
waste issues) and the
Superfund law.

Safe Drinking Water Hotline
(800) 426-4791
Operates Monday to Fri-
day from 8:30 to 5 EST.
Provides information on
regulations under the Safe
Drinking Water Act, lead
and radon in drinking
water, filter information,
and a list of state drinking
water offices.
TSCA Assistance
Information Service
(202) 554-1404,
Operates Monday to Fri-
day from 8:30 to 5 EST.
Provides information on
regulations under the
Toxic Substances Control
Act and on EPA's asbestos

U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission
Washington, DC 20207-0001
Product Safety Hotline:
(800) 638-CPSC
Teletypewriter for the
hearing impaired (outside
Maryland): (800) 638-8270;
Maryland only:
(800) 492-8104.
Recorded information is
available 24 hours a day
when calling from a
touch-tone phone. Opera-
tors are on duty Monday
to Friday from 10:30 to 4
EST to take complaints
about unsafe consumer

U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban
Office of Energy and the
Washington, DC 20410
HUD USER National
toll-free number:
(800) 245-2691
In Washington, DC area:
(301) 251-5154.

U.S. Department of
Office of Conservation
and Renewable Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585

  Conservation and Renewable Energy Inquiry and
  Referral Service (CAREIRS)
  PO Box 3048, Merrifield, VA 22116; (800) 523-2929.
  Operates Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 EST. Provides
  consumer information on conservation and renewable
  energy in residences.

  U.S. Public Health Service
  Division of Federal Occupational Health
  Office of Environmental Hygiene, Region IE, Room 1310
  3535 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
  (215) 596-1888; fax: 215-596-5024
  Provides indoor air quality consultative services to fed-
  eral agency managers.

  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch
  4770 Buford Highway, NE (F-42), Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
  (800) 488-7330

  Office on Smoking and Health
  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  4770 Buford Highway, NE (K-50), Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
  (404) 488-5701

  Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  Office of Information and Consumer Affairs
  200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210
  (202) 219-8151

  Bonneville Power Administration
  Portland, OR 97208

  General Services Administration
  18th and F Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20405

  Tennesee Valley Authority
  Industrial Hygiene Branch
  Multipurpose Building (1-B), Muscle Shoals, AL 35660

       YDur questions or concerns about indoor air prob-
       lems can frequently be answered by the govern-
       ment agencies in your state or local government.
Responsibilities for indoor air quality issues are usually
divided among many different agencies. Calling or writ-
ing the agencies responsible for health or air quality
control is the best way to start getting information from
your state or local government. To obtain state agency
contacts, write or call EPA's IAQ Information Clearing-
house, (800) 438-4318, (202) 484-1307 in the Washington,
D.C. area.


Address inquiries to the Indoor Air Coordinators in the
EPA regional offices at the following addresses:
States in Region
Region 1
EPA (ATR-2311)
John E Kennedy Federal
Boston, MA 02203-2211
Connecticut, Maine,
Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, Rhode Island,
                                                    Region 2
                                                    EPA (2AWM-RAD)
                                                    290 Broadway
                                                    New York, NY 10007-1866
                          New Jersey, New York,
                          Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
                                                    Region 3
                                                    EPA (3AT-32)
                                                    841 Chestnut Building
                                                    Philadelphia, PA 19107
                                                    215-597-4084 (radon)
                          Delaware, District of
                          Columbia, Maryland,
                          Pennsylvania, Virginia,
                          West Virginia
                                                     Region 4
                                                     345 Courtland Street NE
                                                     Atlanta, GA 30365
                          Alabama, Florida, Georgia,
                          Kentucky, Mississippi,
                          North Carolina, South
                          Carolina, Tennessee
                                                     Region 5
                                                     77 W. Jackson Blvd.
                                                     Chicago, IL 60604
                           Illinois, Indiana, Michigan,
                           Minnesota, Ohio,
                                                     Region 6
                                                     EPA (6T-ET)
                                                     First Interstate Bank
                                                     1445 Ross Avenue
                                                     Dallas, TX 75202
                           Arkansas, Louisiana, New
                           Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
                                                     Region 7
                                                     EPAARTX / ARBR-RAID
                                                     726 Minnesota Avenue
                                                     Kansas City, KS 66101
                           Iowa, Kansas, Missouri,
                                                     Region 8
                                                     EPA (8ART-RP)
                                                     999 18th Street, Suite 500
                                                     Denver, CO 80202-2466
                           Colorado, Montana,
                           North Dakota, South
                           Dakota, Utah, Wyoming
                                                     Region 9
                                                     EPA (A-l-1)
                                                     75 Hawthorne Street
                                                     San Fransisco, CA 94105
                           Arizona, California,
                           Hawaii, Nevada, American
                           Samoa, Guam, Trust
                           Territories of the Pacific
                                                     Region 10
                                                     EPA (AT-082)
                                                     1200 Sixth Avenue
                                                     Seattle, WA 98101
                           Alaska, Idaho, Oregon,

 States in Region
 Eastern Regional Center
 6 World Trade Center ,
 Vesey Street, 3rd Floor
 Room 350
 New York, NY 10048-0950
 (212) 466-1612
 Connecticut, District of
 Columbia, Delaware,
 Florida, Massachusetts,
 Maryland, Maine, North
 Carolina, New
 Hampshire, New York,
 Pennsylvania, South
 Carolina, Rhode Island,
 Virginia, Vermont, West
Central Regional Center
230 South Dearborn Street
Room 2944
Chicago, IL 60604-1601
(312) 353-8260
Alabama, Georgia, Iowa,
Illinois, Indiana, Kansas,
Kentucky, Michigan,
Minnesota, Missouri,
Mississippi, North
Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio,
South Dakota, Tennessee,
Western Regional Center
600 Harrison Street
Room 245
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 744-2966
Alaska, Arkansas,
Arizona, California,
Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho,
Louisiana, Montana, New
Mexico, Nevada,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas,
Utah, Washington,
 The following organizations have information discussed
 in this booklet. EPA's IAQ Information Clearinghouse,
 (800)438-4318, can provide the names of a variety of
 organizations that have information on all of the issues
 discussed in this publication.

 American Association of Poison Control Centers
 3800 Reservoir Rd., NW
 Washington, DC 20007

 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and
 Air-Conditioning (ASHRAE)
 1791 Tullie Circle NE
 Atlanta, GA 30329

 World Health Organization
 Publications Center
 49 Sheridan Avenue
 Albany, NY 12210

 Your local American Lung Association (ALA)
 1740 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
 (800) LUNG-USA

Acid aerosol
Acidic liquid or solid par-
ticles that are small
enough to become air-
borne. High concentra-
tions of acid aerosols can
be irritating to the lungs
and have been associated
with some respiratory dis-
eases, such as asthma.

Animal dander
Tiny scales of animal skin.

A substance capable of
causing an allergic reac-
tion because of an
individual's sensitivity to
that substance.

Allergic rhinitis
Inflammation of the mu-
cous membranes in the
nose that is caused by an
allergic reaction.
Building-related illness
A discrete, identifiable
disease or illness that can
be traced to a specific pol-
lutant or source within a
building. (Contrast with
"Sick building syn-
Chemical sensitization
Evidence suggests that
some people may develop
health problems character-
ized by effects such as diz-
ziness, eye and throat irri-
tation, chest tightness, and
nasal congestion that ap-
pear whenever they are
exposed to certain chemi-
cals. People may react to
even trace amounts of
chemicals to which they
have become "sensitized."

Environmental tobacco
Mixture of smoke from the
burning end of a cigarette,
pipe, or cigar and smoke
exhaled by the smoker
(also secondhand smoke
or passive smoking).

Any of a group of para-
sitic lower plants that lack
chlorophyll, including
molds and mildews.

Humidifier fever
A respiratory illness
caused by exposure to tox-
ins from microorganisms
found in wet or moist ar-
eas in humidifiers and air
conditioners. Also called
air conditioner or ventila-
tion fever.
A group of respiratory
diseases that cause inflam-
mation of the lung (spe-
cifically granulomatous
cells). Most forms of hy-
persensitivity pneumon-
itis are caused by the inha-
lation of organic dusts, in-
cluding molds.
Organic compounds
Chemicals that contain
carbon.  Volatile organic
compounds vaporize at
room temperature and
pressure.  They are found
in many indoor sources,
including many common
household products and
building materials.

A unit for measuring ra-
dioactivity, often ex-
pressed as picocuries per
liter of air.
Pressed wood products
A group of materials used
in building and furniture
construction that are made
from wood veneers, par-
ticles, or fibers bonded to-
gether with an adhesive
under heat and pressure.
Radon and radon
decay products
Radon is a radioactive gas
formed in the decay of
uranium. The radon de-
cay products (also called
radon daughters or prog-
eny) can be breathed into
the lung where they con-
tinue to release radiation
as they further decay.
Sick building syndrome
Term that refers to a set of
symptoms that affect some
number of building occu-
pants during the time they
spend in the building and
diminish or go away  dur-
ing periods when they
leave the building. Can-
not be traced to specific
pollutants or sources
within the building. (Con-
trast with "Building re-
lated illness").
Ventilation rate
The rate at which indoor
air enters and leaves  a
building. Expressed  in
one of two ways: the num-
ber of changes of outdoor
air per unit of time (air
changes per hour, or
"ach") or the rate at which
a volume of outdoor air
enters per unit of time (cu-
bic feet per minute, or

   This document is in the public
   domain. It may be reproduced
   in part or in whole by an indi-
   vidual or organization without
   permission. Single copies of
   this booklet are available from
   EPA's IAQ Information Clear-
   inghouse, (800) 438-4318; (202)
   484-1307. PO Box 37133, Wash-
   ington, DC, 20013-7133.  Mul-
   tiple copies may be purchased
   from the Government Printing
   Office. Call (202) 783-3238 or
   send check or money order for
   $44 (package of 25) to: Super-
   intendent of Documents, PO
   Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA,
   15250-7954. Include stock
   number 055-000-00441-2.

   Information provided in this
   booklet is based upon current
   scientific and technical under-
   standing of the issues pre-
   sented and is reflective of the
   jurisdictional boundaries es-
   tablished by the statutes gov-
   erning the co-authoring agen-
   cies. Following the advice
   given will not necessarily pro-
   vide complete protection in all
   situations or against all health
   hazards that may be caused by
   indoor air pollution.
                                                                                              '.•-v •-.'>•;*. •:!;/.';ntj^iig  ^:^

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                               Please photocopy this form and mail with your payment to the address below.

                                      Superintendent of Documents Order Form
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     T. ~  ' please send me - packages (25 copies per package) of The Inside Stoiy: A Guide to Indoor
     Air Quality, S/N 055-000-00441-2, at $44 ($55 foreign) each.

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          * U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1995—394-509