WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- A team of researchers has found surprisingly high levels of pollutants, including formaldehyde and possibly mercury, in carefully monitored homes, and that these pollutants vary through the day and increase as temperatures rise.
In a new study of indoor air quality, a team of Washington State University (WSU) researchers has found that air pollution, whether inside or outside, has a significant impact on people's health, including their heart, lungs, brain, and neurological health. But, while the government has increased regulation of outdoor air pollution over the past 40 years, there is little regulation of the air in people's homes. Building laws generally require that homes are structurally sound and that people are comfortable -- with minimal impacts from odors and humidity.
These emissions come from a variety of sources, such as building materials, furniture, household chemical products, and from people's activities like cooking.
One of the ways to clear out harmful chemicals is with ventilation to the outdoors. But, with increased concern about climate change and interest in reducing energy use, builders are trying to make homes more airtight, which may inadvertently be worsening the problem.
In their study, the researchers looked at a variety of homes -- meant to reflect the typical housing styles and age in the U.S. They found that formaldehyde levels rose in homes as temperatures increased inside -- between three and five parts per billion every time the temperature increased one degree Celsius.
The work shows how heat waves and changing regional climate might affect indoor air quality in the future.