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National Research Council (US) Committee on Indoor Pollutants. Indoor Pollutants. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1981.

Cover of Indoor Pollutants

Indoor Pollutants.

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APPENDIX AAIR-QUALITY STANDARDS

The possibility of establishing standards for indoor air quality is under consideration, because its importance for protecting human health is recognized as a major national environmental issue. The ever-increasing cost of energy has heightened the need for considering such standards, inasmuch as a cost-effective method of reducing energy use in buildings is to reduce ventilation, an action that can increase indoor air pollution.

There is a regulatory indoor air standard for nonoccupational air in the United States only for ozone. There are voluntary standards for indoor air quality that may serve as guidelines to federal, state, or local government agencies on formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, chlorine, radon, carcinogenic aerosols, and other chemical substances. The ozone standard applies only to devices that produce ozone as a waste product. The radon standards and guidelines apply only to buildings that are contaminated as a result of uranium-processing (e.g., by the use of mill tailings as landfill) and buildings that are on phosphate land in Florida.

Tables A-1 through A-8 list a number of U.S. outdoor air-quality and occupational standards and some relevant foreign standards. They are presented not as an exhaustive list of air-quality standards, but rather to impart perspective to the many allusions to standards throughout this report.

TABLE A-1. National Primary Ambient-Air Quality Standards as Set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

TABLE A-1

National Primary Ambient-Air Quality Standards as Set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

TABLE A-8. Ventilation Standards for Dwellings.

TABLE A-8

Ventilation Standards for Dwellings.

Table A-2Additional Ambient Air Quality Guidelines a

Contaminant b Long TermShort Term
Concentration c TimeConcentration c Time d
Acetone-O7 mg/m324 h24 mg/m330 min
Acrolein-O25 μg/m3C
Ammonia-O0.5 mg/m3Yr7 mg/m3C
Beryllium0.01 µg/m330 d
Cadmium2.0 µg/m324 h
Calcium oxide (lime)20–30 μg/m3C
Carbon disulfide-O0.15 mg/m324 h0.45 mg/m330 min
Chlorine-O0.1 mg/m324 h0.3 mg/m330 min
Chromium1.5 µg/m324 h
Cresol-O0.1 mg/m324 h
Dichloroethane-O2.0 mg/m324 h6.0 mg/m330 min
Ethyl acetate-O14 mg/m324 h42 mg/m330 min
Formaldehyde-O e 120 μg/mC
Hydrochloric acid-O0.4 mg/m324 h3 mg/m330 min
Hydrogen sulfide-O40–50 µg/m324 h42 μg/m31 h
Mercaptans-O20 μg/m31 h
Mercury2 µg/m324 h
Methyl alcohol-O1.5 mg/m324 h4.5 mg/m330 min
Methylene chloride-O20 mg/m3
50 mg/m3
Yr
24 h
150 mg/m330 min
Nickel2 μg/m324 h
Nitrogen monoxide0.5 mg/m324 h1 mg/m330 min
Phenol-O0.1 mg/m324 h
Sulfates4 µg/m3
12 µg/m3
Yr
24 h
Sulfuric acid-O50 µg/m3.
100 µg/m3
Yr
24 h
200 μg/m330 min
Trichloroethylene-O2 mg/m3
5 mg/m3
Yr
24 h
16 mg/m330 min
Vanadium2 µg/m324 h
Zinc50 µg/m3
100 µg/m3
Yr
24 h
a

Reprinted with permission from ANSI/ASHRAE, 1 which states: “Outdoor air shall be considered unacceptable if it is known to contain any contaminant at a concentration above that listed in Table [A-2]. This table covers other common contaminants for which no EPA ambient air quality standards exist. These [concentrations] were selected from current practices in various states, provinces and other countries.”

b

Contaminants marked “0” have odors at concentrations sometimes found in outdoor air. The tabulated concentrations do not necessarily result in odorless conditions.

c

Unless otherwise specified, all air quality measurements should be corrected to standard conditions of 25°C (77°F) temperature and 760 mm (29.92 in.) of mercury pressure (101.3 kPa).

d

C, ceiling, or maximal allowable concentration.

e

An industry organization has appealed the air quality limits of 120 µg/m3 as shown in Tables 2 and 4 of Standard 62–1981. The appeal is under consideration. If any change in Standard 62–1981 results from the appeal, all original recipients will be informed by ASHRAE.

TABLE A-3Selected Occupational-Safety and -Health Standards as Set by U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration a

ContaminantConcentration, b
ppmmg/m3
Carbon dioxide5,0009,000
Carbon monoxide5055
Formaldehyde23
Nitric oxide2530
Nitrogen dioxide59
Ozone0.10.2
Sulfur dioxide513
Inert or nuisance dust, respirable fraction5
Asbestos c c
a

Data from 29 CFR 1910.1000. 11

b

8-h time-weighted averages, except values for nitrogen dioxide, which are ceiling values.

c

Fewer than two fibers longer than 5 µm per cubic centimenter.

Table A-6Selected Guidelines for Air Contaminants of Indoor Origin a

Contaminant b ConcentrationExposure TimeComments
Acetone-O
Ammonia-O
AsbestosKnown human carcinogen; best available control technology
Benzene-OKnown human carcinogen; best available control technology
Carbon dioxide4.5 g/m3Continuous
Chlordane-O5 µg/m3Continuous
Chlorine
Cresol-O
Dichloromethane-O
Formaldehyde-O c 120 µg/m3ContinuousW. German and Dutch guidelines
Hydrocarbons, aliphatic-O
Hydrocarbons, aromatic-O
Mercury
Ozone-O100 µg/m3Continuous
Phenol-O
Radon0.01 working level (WL)Annual averageBackground 0.002– 0.004 WL
Tetrachloroethylene-O
Trichloroethane-O
Turpentine-O
Vinyl chloride-OKnown human carcinogen; best available control technology
a

Reprinted with permission from ANSI/ASHRAE, 1 which states: “If the air is thought to contain any contaminant not listed [in various tables], guidance on acceptable exposure…should be obtained by reference to the standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For application to the general population the concentration of these contaminants should not exceed 1/10 of the limits which are used in industry…. In some cases, this procedure may result in unreasonable limits. Expert consultation may then be required.” “These substances are ones for which indoor exposure standards are not yet available.”

b

Contaminants marked “O” have odors at concentrations sometimes found in indoor air. The tabulated concentrations do not necessarily result in odorless conditions.

c

An industry organization has appealed the air quality limits of 120 µg/m3 as shown in Tables 2 and 4 of Standard 62–1981. The appeal is under consideration. If any change in Standard 62–1981 results from the appeal, all original recipients will be informed by ASHRAE.

TABLE A-4Radon Standards

CountryAverage Annual Working LevelActionStatusReference
Indoor:
United States:
Sites contaminated by uranium-processing0.015Cost-benefit analysis required when level is only slightly above maximumInterim and proposed cleanup standard for buildings contaminated by uranium-processing sites13, 21
Phosphate land,
Florida:
Existing housing<0.02Reduce to as low as reasonably achievable
Image p200048afg510001.jpg
Recommendation to governor of Florida12
>0.02Action indicated
New housingNormal indoor background
Canada:>0.01Investigate
Image p200048afg510002.jpg
Policy statement by AECB4
>0.02Primary action criterion
>0.15Prompt action
Sweden:
Max., existing buildings200 Bq/m3 a
Image p200048afg510003.jpg
Proposed standard8
Max., new buildings70 Bq/m3 a
Occupational:
U.S. miners:
Instantaneous maximum1 WLMSHA standard22
Maximal cumulative dose4 WLM/yr b
a

Assuming an equilibrium factor of 0.5, these values are 0.027 WL and 0.009 WL, respectively.

b

Period is a calendar year. Dose for any month is defined as cumulative dose in WL-h divided by 173. Assuming 173 h worked per month (i.e., 2,076 h/yr), average annual working level is 1/3 WL.

TABLE A-5Formaldehyde Standards

CountryConcentration, ppm a StatusReference
Indoor air:
United Statesbb
Denmark0.12 ppm maximumRecommended3
Netherlands0.1 ppm maximumRecommended by ministers of housing and health5
Sweden0.1 ppm maximum, new buildingsProposed by National Board of Health and Welfare23
0.4 ppm minimum, old buildings c
0.7 ppm maximum, old buildings c
Federal Republic of Germany0.1 ppm maximumRecommended by Ministry of Health d
Occupational air:
United States3 ppm, 8-h time-weighted averagePromulgated by OSHA11
5 ppm, ceilingPromulgated by OSHA11
1 ppm, 30-min maximumRecommended by NIOSH10
a

0.1 ppm≅120 µg/m3.

b

Several states have proposed indoor standards in the range of 0.2–0.5 ppm.

c

0.4–0.7 ppm is a border range. Concentrations higher than 0.7 ppm do not meet the standard. Those lower than 0.4 ppm do meet the standard. Those within the range do not meet the standard if dwellers complain. In recently built houses, 0.7 ppm should be acceptable during first 6 mo.

d

J.E.Woods (personal communication).

TABLE A-7Other Indoor Air-Quality Standards

ContaminantConcentrationReference
United States:
Ozone0.05 ppm (100 µg/m3)9
Japan:
Carbon dioxide1,000 ppm (1,800 mg/m3)
Carbon monoxide10 ppm (11 mg/m3)6
Particles150 µg/m3

REFERENCES

1.
American National Standards Institute, and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62–1981. Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. New York: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., 1981. 48 pp.
2.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. ASHRAE Standard 62–73. Standards for Natural and Mechanical Ventilation, p. 6. New York: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., 1973.
3.
Andersen, I. Formaldehyde in the indoor environment—Health implications and the setting of standards, pp. 65–77. In P.O. Fanger, editor; , and O.Valbjørn, editor. , Eds. Indoor Climate. Effects on Human Comfort, Performance, and Health in Residential, Commercial, and Light-Industry Buildings. Proceedings of the First International Indoor Climate Symposium, Copenhagen, August 30–September 1, 1978. Copenhagen: Danish Building Research Institute, 1979.
4.
Atomic Energy Control Board [Canada] (AECB). Criteria for Radioactive Clean-up in Canada. AECB Information Bulletin 77–2. Ottawa, Ont., Canada: Atomic Energy Control Board, 1977.
5.
Baars, R. The formal aspects of the formaldehyde problem in the Netherlands, pp. 77–82. In P.O.Fanger, editor; , and O.Valbjørn, editor. , Eds. Indoor Climate. Effects on Human Comfort, Performance, and Health in Residential, Commercial, and Light-Industry Buildings. Proceedings of the First International Indoor Climate Symposium, Copenhagen, August 30–September 1, 1978. Copenhagen: Danish Building Research Institute, 1979.
6.
National Technical Information Service. Building Control Law and Dust Collectors. (in Japanese; English abstract) 1974. APTIC No. 63252.
7.
NKB. Forslag till Nordiska riktlinjer for byggnadsbestammelser rorande: Luftkvalitet. [Proposed Nordic Guidelines for Building Codes: Air Quality] Stockholm, Sweden: NKB, 1979.
8.
Swedish Ministry of Agriculture. Preliminary Proposal for Measures to Minimize Radiation Risk in Buildings, Sections 3.2.2 and 3.2.4. Stockholm: Swedish Ministry of Agriculture, 1979.
9.
U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Food and Drug Administration. Standard for equipment producing ozone as a byproduct. Maximum acceptable level of ozone. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Part 801.415, July 1, 1979.
10.
U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Criteria for a Recommended Standard…. Occupational Exposure to Formaldehyde. DHEW (NIOSH) Publication No. 77–126. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.
11.
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational safety and health standards. Air contaminants. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 29, Part 1910:1000, July 1, 1979.
12.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor radiation exposure due to radium-226 in Florida phosphate lands: Radiation protection recommendations and request for comment. Fed. Reg. 44:38664–38670 , July 2, 1979.
13.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Interim cleanup standards for inactive uranium processing sites. Fed. Reg. 45:27366–27368 , April 22, 1980.
14.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. National primary ambient air quality standards for particulate matter. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 50.6, July 1, 1980.
15.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. National primary ambient air quality standards for sulfur oxides (sulfur dioxide). Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 50.4, July 1, 1980.
16.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. National primary and secondary ambient air quality standards for carbon monoxide. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 50.8, July 1, 1980.
17.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. National primary and secondary ambient air quality standard for hydrocarbons. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 50.10, July 1, 1980.
18.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. National primary and secondary ambient air quality standards for lead. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 50.12, July 1, 1980.
19.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. National primary and secondary ambient air quality standard for nitrogen dioxide. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 50.11, July 1, 1980.
20.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. National primary and secondary ambient air quality standards for ozone. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 50.9, July 1, 1980.
21.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Proposed cleanup standards for inactive uranium processing sites. Fed. Reg. 45:27370–27375 , April 22, 1980.
22.
U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Regulations and standards applicable to metal and nonmetal mining and milling operations. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 30, Part 57.5–38 and 57.5–39, July 1, 1979.
23.
Wahren, H. Formaldehyde Indoor Air Standards in Sweden. Paper presented at the Consumer Product Safety Commission Technical Workshop on Formaldehyde, Washington, D.C., April 9–11, 1980.
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK234057

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