The Air Quality Act gave the EPA sweeping powers to regulate atmosphere pollutants, but not inside the home. Little did we know when the act was signed into law 40 years ago that the air inside our homes could be as bad or even worse for our health than city smog. Now that we know, the agency has been under pressure to design guidelines for indoor air quality, especially since our efforts to trim down energy consumption through reducing air infiltration has resulted in the unintended consequence of increasing indoor pollution risks.
In November, the EPA unveiled voluntary protocols for reducing risks from indoor air contaminants due to energy-efficiency upgrades to residential buildings. “Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades
” details assessment practices as well as mitigation actions that should be taken for common home contaminants such as asbestos, radon, lead, ozone, carbon monoxide, polychlorinated biphenyls, and air pollutants associated with vehicle emissions in garages, including benzene and other volatile organic compounds. The guide is aimed at the home energy industry and includes recommendations for heating and cooling systems and ventilation for small and large appliances. The document, developed along with Department of Energy and the White House Council on Environmental Quality home energy initiatives, applies to single- and multifamily homes for use during weatherization and other energy-efficient remodeling projects.
"Homeowners, occupants, and the energy services industry will benefit greatly from this simple and clear guidance for addressing critical indoor air quality risks during home energy upgrades," air chief Gina McCarthy said in a statement.