Indoor Air Quality Program

The Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD)’s Indoor Air Quality Program began in the late 1980s. It’s goal is to improve the health of Marion County citizens by reducing exposure to indoor air contaminants. The primary function of this program is to provide advice and expertise with indoor air concerns in homes, schools, offices and public facilities.

 

To request a FREE radon test, call 317-221-2266 or CLICK HERE.

 

Regulations

Marion County Health Code

Chapter 10: Residential Property and Housing

Chapter 19: Nonresidential (Commercial) Premises

Chapter 20: Hazardous Materials

 

Indoor Air Quality Contaminants

RADON

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the second-leading cause of lung cancer among all cases. Radon gas comes from natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil and can seep into your house from the crawl space of through cracks in your basement or slab foundation. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. If your home has elevated levels of radon, you should consider installing a radon reduction system. A good system can be highly effective-some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99 percent. The State of Indiana requires that radon testing businesses and reduction system installers be certified. For a list of state-certified radon professionals, please click on the below link.

 

Links:

Radon Map

EPA’s Radon page

EPA’s “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon”

ISDH’s Radon Page and State Certified Radon Professionals

 

ASBESTOS

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Asbestos has been used in numerous building products, including insulation for pipes, floor tiles, and building materials. During the removal of asbestos materials due to renovation, repairs, or demolition, people can be exposed to the tiny asbestos fibers. Breathing asbestos fibers can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs called asbestosis and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. Asbestos also causes lung cancer and other diseases, including mesothelioma. MCPHD recommends that homeowners use a locally certified asbestos contractor anytime asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or removed. To know if your home contains asbestos, MCPHD can test building materials for the presence of asbestos. If asbestos is present, MCPHD can offer guidance to reduce the risk of exposure.

Links:

OSHA’s Asbestos Page

OSHA Asbestos Regulations: 29 CFR 1910.1001

OSHA Asbestos Self Inspection Checklist

EPA’s Asbestos Page

City of Indianapolis Asbestos Page- Asbestos contractors, laws and guidance

City of Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement Permits

 

MOLD

Molds are part of the natural environment and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold is not usually a problem unless it begins growing indoors. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints. The best way to control mold growth is to control moisture. Strategies for controlling moisture include:

Indoor Sources

* Fix plumbing leaks, drips or “sweating” pipes.

*Limit sources of indoor humidity/dehumidify indoor air.

*Improve air movement in poorly ventilated areas.

*Increase fresh air ventilation when outdoor air is not humid.

*Warm cold surfaces where condensation occurs.

Outdoor Sources

*Maintain roof and gutter/downspout system.

*Direct runoff away from foundation by grading, drain tile, landscaping, etc.

*Use air conditioning and keep building closed during high outdoor humidity.

*Prevent leakage around windows, doors, flashing, etc.

*Waterproof foundations.

MCPHD does not sample for mold, but staff can determine if there is a water leak or other source of moisture contributing to the mold growth and offer guidance on how to correct.

Links:

EPA’s Mold Page

EPA’s “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home”

EPA’s Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems

 

CARBON MONOXIDE

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled. Carbon monoxide is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, generators, and gas ranges and heating systems.

 

Carbon monoxide from these sources can build up in enclosed spaces and poison people breathing the air in these spaces. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels can cause loss of consciousness and even death. MCPHD recommends that all homes have a working carbon monoxide detector on each level of the residence.

 

Links:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Carbon Monoxide Page

Environmental Protection Agency’s Carbon Monoxide Page

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips – National Fire Protection Association

Consumer Product safety Commission – Carbon Monoxide Information Center

 

ENVIRONMENTAL TOBACCO SMOKE

Environmental tobacco smoker (ETS) refers to exposure to tobacco smoke-not from your smoking, but from being exposed to someone else’s cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke. ETS can also be described as the material in indoor air that originates from tobacco smoke. Breathing in ETS is known as passive smoking, second-hand smoke, or involuntary smoking.

ETS is known to cause cancer in humans. No level of exposure is safe. Breathing ETS can cause heart disease and lung cancer in adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ETS is the third leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking and exposure to radon.

ETS is especially harmful to children because their bodies are developing, yet nonsmokers aged three to 19 years of age are among the most exposed groups of nonsmokers in the U.S. ETS increases the risk for:

*Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

*Respiratory illness

*Middle-ear disease

*Worsening of asthma in children

*Low birth weight (a newborn’s birth weight is closely related to its risk of early death and long-term morbidity)

Links:

Indiana Smoke-free Website- IN Alcohol and Tobacco Commission

Indiana Smoke-free Air Law- House Enrolled Act. No. 1149

City of Indianapolis Smoking Ordinance

 

INDOOR AIR QUALITY IN SCHOOLS

Good indoor air quality in schools contributes to a favorable environment for students, performance of teachers and staff and a sense of comfort, health and well-being. These elements combine to assist a school in its core mission- educating children. School indoor air quality management includes:

Links:

ISDH School Rule and Guidance Policies

Best Practice Sample Documents:

Animals in Schools

Chemicals in Schools

Housekeeping

HVAC Maintenance

Indoor Air Quality Coordinator

Mercury Spills

Vehicle Idling

Creating Health Indoor Air Quality in Schools– EPA Page

Mold Remediation in Schools

 

Additional Resources

Asthma Alliance of Indianapolis

Indiana Joint Asthma Coalition (InJAC)

Welcome to Breatheasyville- Learn about asthma triggers in ISDH’s virtual town

EPA’s Asthma Page

EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Page

Indoor Swimming Pool Irritants– ISDH Fact Sheet

Legionnaires Fact Sheet

 

Questions and complaints can be directed to:

Department of Water Quality & Hazardous Materials Management

3901 Meadows Dr., 2nd floor, Indianapolis, IN 46205

Phone: 317.221.2266