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Indoor Air Pollution

Take a whiff of an old building that’s been tightly boarded up for a while and there’s no doubt that air pollution isn’t just a problem associated with the great outdoors.

Musty aromas from damp walls and floors, unventilated rooms, and years of accumulated dust are sure signs of indoor air pollution.  There’s likely to be a lot of work in store to get the place smelling fresh enough to occupy again.

Indoor air pollution isn’t limited to the old and decrepit structures, though.  In fact, measured levels of indoor air pollution can be much greater in a newly constructed building.

Many people, especially new homeowners, are rather proud of that “new home smell” that permeates a new building.  That smell is a blend of fresh paint, new carpets, and lots of solvents, sealers, and glues that hold the place together.

All those new things, and the materials used in construction, release a tremendous amount of fumes that contribute to the indoor air pollution in new homes and buildings.  Sometimes these fresh, new aromas are strong enough to be considered toxic and can cause health problems.

One of the leading causes of indoor air pollution in a new building is the carpeting.  The combination of dyes, flame- and stain-resistant treatments, and floor glue needed to keep it in place can be so strong sensitive people cannot occupy the building for weeks, until the fumes have dissipated to safer levels.

Fresh paint is another source of indoor air pollution.  It often looks great but it, too, may need a few weeks for the fumes to go away if an intended occupant of the building is particularly affected by them.

Air flowing through new ventilation systems, the lingering dust of sheetrock installation, and other construction debris too small to see can leave indoor air pollution levels so high that new occupants may experience headaches and minor respiratory distress for a while after moving in.

Granted, the aromas of indoor air pollution detected in a newly constructed building are considered more desirable, less offensive, than those found in lonely old buildings that have been neglected but the pollution is there nevertheless.

In either situation, a little tidying up and fresh air is likely to go a long way in reducing the level of indoor air pollution so these buildings, new or old, can be pleasantly enjoyed by even the most sensitive occupants.