Legal Responses to Indoor Air Pollution

Legal Responses to Indoor Air Pollution

Legal Responses to Indoor Air Pollution

Legal Responses to Indoor Air Pollution

Synopsis

The underrecognized but highly significant problem of indoor air pollution is examined in this important study that covers the issue from the relative health risks involved to the shortcomings of regulatory and judicial responses. The book focuses largely upon the three best-known pollutants--radon, asbestos, and formaldehyde--exploring their hazards and the tens of thousands of deaths and millions of days of illnesses they cause. The work also synopsizes government action against these pollutants, opportunities for individuals to sue parties for harm, and proposals for government regulation and legislation to effectively protect public health.

Excerpt

The concept of indoor air pollution is so unknown to Americans that it appears almost to be a contradiction in terms. The public views air pollution as dirty smoke spewed from heavy industries or the oddly colored haze resultant from automobile traffic. Indoor air, by contrast, does not look dirty or polluted. Home is viewed as a refuge from air pollution. Major cities, such as Los Angeles, direct their citizenry to stay inside on particularly smoggy days.

In this context, it is understandably difficult for individuals to comprehend that indoor air is not only more hazardous than outdoor but that it is many times more hazardous. "Indoor" generally means within the home, though it also includes workplaces, restaurants, and other areas within buildings. The primary indoor air pollutants, which typically can be neither seen nor smelled, are just as hazardous as pollutants emitted into the outdoor air. These same pollutants tend to be found at much higher levels inside buildings, which capture and concentrate the emissions. In addition, people spend far more time indoors than they do outside. The combination of these features produces significant health hazards inside homes and offices.

First, some definition of indoor air pollution is required. My definition is an operational one, as there are no defined parameters for indoor air pollution. This book focuses upon the commonly understood meaning of "pollution," that is, involuntary exposures to chemicals and radiation emitted as byproducts of some economic activity. I have excluded smoking from my definition of indoor air pollution.

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