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Public Health Rep. 1998 Sep-Oct;113(5):398-409.

The indoor air we breathe.

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Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.


Increasingly recognized as a potential public health problem since the outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in Philadelphia in 1976, polluted indoor air has been associated with health problems that include asthma, sick building syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Symptoms are often nonspecific and include headache, eye and throat irritation, chest tightness and shortness of breath, and fatigue. Air-borne contaminants include commonly used chemicals, vehicular exhaust, microbial organisms, fibrous glass particles, and dust. Identified causes include defective building design and construction, aging of buildings and their ventilation systems, poor climate control, inattention to building maintenance. A major contributory factor is the explosion in the use of chemicals in building construction and furnishing materials over the past four decades. Organizational issues and psychological variables often contribute to the problem and hinder its resolution. This article describes the health problems related to poor indoor air quality and offers solutions.

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