Indoor Air Pollution

Most people associate air pollution with the outdoors. They get their cars smog-checked to be sure the oil and gas emissions are within legal limits. They check the outdoor air quality level before they go jogging. They do not give much thought to indoor air pollution even though recent studies reveal that people spend 90 percent of their time indoors.

A large number of products that are used indoors emit chemicals into the air. Poor ventilation contributes to the chemicals remaining in the air and causing health problems. Cleaning supplies, use of aerosol cans, and glue used for hobbies are just a few examples. Other examples include gas stoves, which may emit carbon dioxide, and deteriorating insulation, which may release asbestos into the air. Poor ventilation compounds the problem, and the chemicals pollute the air.

Some chemicals are more harmful than others. Asbestos has frequently been in the news as causing mesothelioma, a tumor of the lining of the lungs, heart and other organs. There is no cure. Radon, usually found outdoors, may seep inside through the cracks of concrete and is a major cause of lung cancer.

There are biological contaminants, such as mold and mildew, combustion products, pesticides and household chemicals that cause health problems when released into the indoor air. One that is currently in the news is formaldehyde.

Lumber Liquidators and Formaldehyde

Some people may be surprised at the number of products that include formaldehyde as an ingredient. The chemical is used to make permanent-press clothes, sheets and drapes. It is used in paint and glue. Its main use in homes is in pressed wood products, including furniture and wall and floor coverings.

Laminate flooring from China contains high levels of formaldehyde.

At certain levels of emission, formaldehyde is a dangerous chemical that can cause respiratory distress. For this reason, the amount of formaldehyde that a wood flooring product may contain has been controlled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the last 30 years.

Experts say that the limited use of formaldehyde in pressed wood products is safe and that it dissipates over time. Too much formaldehyde contaminates the indoor air and may cause health problems ranging from sneezing and coughing to lung cancer.

CBS News recently conducted formaldehyde level testing of 31 boxes of laminate flooring purchased from Lumber Liquidators that was made in China. Thirty of the 31 boxes tested positive for amounts of formaldehyde that far exceeded the legal limit allowed by the California Air Resources Board for sale in the state of California. At least one of the boxes contained levels 13 times that allowed by law.

The CBS report has prompted a call by lawmakers for a federal investigation into Lumber Liquidators and its high levels of formaldehyde in its made-in-China products. Additionally, a federal lawsuit has been filed in California on behalf of consumers.

The consumers claim that Lumber Liquidators labeled the laminate made in China as CARB-compliant when, in fact, the company knew that it was not. The company has, of course, denied all the allegations.

At RSD Strategies, we test indoor air quality and can provide solutions if it is not in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency and CARB requirements.