Taught in Practicum IV
Millions of Americans live in areas where the air carries not only life-giving oxygen, but also noxious pollutants that
reach unhealthful levels, such as ozone, carbon monoxide, fine particles, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, or lead.
Exercise makes us more vulnerable to health damage from these pollutants. We breathe more air during exercise
or strenuous work. We draw air more deeply into the lungs. And when we exercise heavily, we breathe mostly
through the mouth, bypassing the body's first line of defense against pollution, the nose.
HOW AIR POLLUTION AFFECTS YOUR BODY
Our lungs are among the body's primary points of contact with the outside world. We may drink two liters of liquid
each day. We breathe in an estimated 15,000 liters of air, approximately 6 to 10 liters every minute, drawing life-
giving oxygen across 600 to 900 square feet of surface area in tiny sacs inside the lung.
Oxygen is necessary for our muscles to function. The purpose of exercise training is to improve the body's ability to
deliver oxygen. As a result, when we exercise, we may increase our intake of air by as much as ten times our level
An endurance athlete can process as much as twenty times the normal intake. Mouth breathing during exercise
bypasses the nasal passages, the body's natural air filter. These facts mean that when we exercise in polluted air,
we increase our contact with the pollutants, and increase our vulnerability to health damage.
The interaction between air pollution and exercise is so strong that health scientists typically use exercising
volunteers in their research.
MINIMIZE RISK: MANAGE EXERCISE
The news isn't all bad. We can minimize exposure to air pollution by being aware of pollution and by following
some simple guidelines: If you live in an area susceptible to air pollution, here's what you should do:
· train early in the day or in the evening.
· avoid midday or afternoon exercise, and avoid strenuous outdoor work, if possible,
when ozone smog or other pollution levels are high.
· avoid congested streets and rush hour traffic; pollution levels can be high up to 50 feet
from the roadway.
· make sure coaches and officials know about air pollution and act accordingly.
· Most important, do be aware of the quality of the air you breathe!
Don't do the following:
· Don't take air pollution lightly, it can hurt all of us!
· Don't engage in strenuous outdoor activity when local officials issue health warnings.
Air Quality Index
Levels of Health Concern Colors
When the AQI ...air quality conditions ...as symbolized
is in this range: are: by this color:
0 to 50 Good Green
51 to 100 Moderate Yellow
101 to 150 Unhealthy for Orange
151 to 200 Unhealthy Red
201 to 300 Very Unhealthy Purple
301 to 500 Hazardous Maroon
Air is the ocean we breathe. Air supplies us with oxygen which is essential for our bodies to live.
Air is 99.9% nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and inert gases. Human activities can release
substances into the air, some of which can cause problems for humans, plants, and animals.
There are several main types of pollution and well-known effects of pollution which are
commonly discussed. These include smog, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, and "holes" in the
ozone layer. Each of these problems has serious implications for our health and well-being as
well as for the whole environment.
One type of air pollution is the release of particles into the air from burning fuel for energy.
Diesel smoke is a good example of this particulate matter . The particles are very small pieces of
matter measuring about 2.5 microns or about .0001 inches. This type of pollution is sometimes
referred to as "black carbon" pollution. The exhaust from burning fuels in automobiles, homes,
and industries is a major source of pollution in the air. Some authorities believe that even the
burning of wood and charcoal in fireplaces and barbeques can release significant quantities of
soot into the air.
Another type of pollution is the release of noxious gases, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon
monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and chemical vapors. These can take part in further chemical
reactions once they are in the atmosphere, forming smog and acid rain.
Pollution also needs to be considered inside our homes, offices, and schools. Some of these
pollutants can be created by indoor activities such as smoking and cooking. In the United
States, we spend about 80-90% of our time inside buildings, and so our exposure to harmful
indoor pollutants can be serious. It is therefore important to consider both indoor and outdoor
Smog is a type of large-scale outdoor pollution. It is caused by chemical reactions between
pollutants derived from different sources, primarily automobile exhaust and industrial
emissions. Cities are often centers of these types of activities, and many suffer from the effects
of smog, especially during the warm months of the year.
For each city, the exact causes of pollution may be different. Depending on the geographical
location, temperature, wind and weather factors, pollution is dispersed differently. However,
sometimes this does not happen and the pollution can build up to dangerous levels. A
temperature inversion occurs when air close to the earth is cooler than the air above it. Under
these conditions the pollution cannot rise and be dispersed. Cities surrounded by mountains
also experience trapping of pollution. Inversion can happen in any season. Winter inversions
are likely to cause particulate and cabon monoxide pollution. Summer inversions are more
likely to create smog.
Another consequence of outdoor air pollution is acid rain. When a pollutant, such as sulfuric
acid combines with droplets of water in the air, the water (or snow) can become acidified . The
effects of acid rain on the environment can be very serious. It damages plants by destroying
their leaves, it poisons the soil, and it changes the chemistry of lakes and streams. Damage due
to acid rain kills trees and harms animals, fish, and other wildlife.
Ozone depletion is another result of pollution. Chemicals released by our activities affect the
stratosphere , one of the atmospheric layers surrounding earth. The ozone layer in the
stratosphere protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Release of
chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) from aerosol cans, cooling systems and refrigerator equipment
removes some of the ozone, causing "holes"; to open up in this layer and allowing the radiation
to reach the earth. Ultraviolet radiation is known to cause skin cancer and has damaging effects
on plants and wildlife.
Many people spend large portion of time indoors - as much as 80-90% of their lives. We work,
study, eat, drink and sleep in enclosed environments where air circulation may be restricted.
For these reasons, some experts feel that more people suffer from the effects of indoor air
pollution than outdoor pollution.
There are many sources of indoor air pollution. Tobacco smoke, cooking and heating
appliances, and vapors from building materials, paint, furniture, etc. cause pollution inside
buildings. Radon is a natural radioactive gas released from the earth, and it can be found
concentrated in basements in some parts of the United States.
Pollution exposure at home and work is often greater than outdoors. Indoor air pollutant levels
may be 25-62% greater than outside levels and can pose serious health problems.
When we talk about air quality we are referring to various natural and man-made pollutants in the air inside
buildings. These pollutants can be chemicals, gases, particles and other substances. Pollutants which can occur in
Volatile organic compounds from cleaning chemicals, solvents, paints, aerosols, and cleaning products.
Respirable particles generated by wood stoves, open fireplaces, and tobacco smoke
Combustion by-products such as oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide
In addition, either very high or very low humidity levels in the home can provide conditions suitable for bacterial or
biological organisms such as mold, mildew, fungi, dust mites or viruses.
Sources: Earth and rock beneath home; well water; building materials.
Health Effects: No immediate symptoms. Estimated to cause as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths per
year. Smokers are at higher risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer.
Levels in Homes: Estimated national average is 1 ½ picocuries per liter. The Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) limit exposure is 4 picocuries per liter. Levels in homes have been found
above 200 picocuries per liter. The higher the average concentration, the faster the
corrective action should be taken.
To Reduce Exposure: Test your home for radon. If levels exceed 4 pCi/L, get professional advice before
planning and carrying out radon reduction measures.
Common controls include:
1. sealing cracks and other openings in basement floor. 2. ventilating the crawl
space. 3. installing ventilation under the slab or basement floor (sub-slab
depressurization), installing heat recovery ventilator (air-to-air heat exchanger).
Treat radon-contaminated well water by aerating or filtering through granulated-
Detection: Two types of do-it-yourself radon detectors are most commonly used in homes: charcoal
canisters that are exposed for 2 to 7 days; and alpha track detectors that are exposed for
3 to 12 months. The alpha track is generally recommended because it monitors radon
during variations of seasons.
Sources: Pressed wood products (hardwood plywood wall paneling, particle board, fiberboard)
and furniture made with these pressed wood products. Urea-formaldehyde foam
insulation (UFFI). Combustion sources such as heating.
Health Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; may trigger
severe allergic reactions; suspected of causing cancer. May also cause other effects
listed under "organic gases."
Levels in Home: Average concentrations in older homes without UFFI are generally well below 0.1 ppm
(parts per million). In homes with significant amounts of new pressed wood products,
levels can be greater than 0.3 ppm. Although no standard has been established for
formaldehyde levels in all residences, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and
Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has recommended 0.1 ppm as the maximum level
for continuous indoor exposure.
To Reduce Exposure: Use "low fuming" or "exterior grade" pressed wood products (lower-emitting because
they contain phenol resins, not urea resins). Use air conditioning and dehumidifiers to
maintain a moderate temperature and reduce humidity. Increase ventilation,
particularly after bringing new sources of formaldehyde into the home. Seal products
and finishes containing formaldehyde using vinyl sheet flooring, paints, shellac,
varnishes or lacquer.
Detection: Do-it-yourself monitors (dosimeters) are available from hardware and industrial hygiene
stores. This small measuring device is placed in a room for about a week, and then
mailed to a laboratory for analysis.
Sources: Product of incomplete combustion when natural gas, oil, wood, coal, tobacco and other
materials are burned. Improperly maintained or faulty woodstoves, gas stoves, oil stoves
and furnaces. Unvented kerosene and gas heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces;
down-drafting from wood stoves and fireplaces. Automobile exhaust from attached
Health Effects: At low concentrations, fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart
disease. At higher concentrations, impaired vision and coordination; headaches;
dizziness; confusion; nausea. Can cause flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving
home. Fatal at very high concentrations.
Levels in Homes: Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 ppm. Levels near properly
adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm and near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30
ppm or higher. No federal standard exists for carbon monoxide in residences. The EPA
outdoor standard for carbon monoxide is 9 ppm exposure averaged over 8 hours and 35
ppm for a one-hour average exposure.
To Reduce Exposure: Keep gas appliances properly adjusted. All gas and kerosene space heaters and furnaces
should be vented to the outdoors. If possible provide fresh outside combustion air to
fossil fuel heating systems. Install and use exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas
stoves. Use only water-clear 1-K kerosene as a fuel for kerosene space heaters. Open
flues when gas fireplaces are in use. Choose properly sized wood stoves that are
certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit
tightly. Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system
(furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks properly. Do not idle car inside
Detection: Passive monitors are available for carbon monoxide.
Sources: Kerosene heaters, unvented gas stoves and heaters. Tobacco smoke.
Health Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; may cause impaired lung function and increased
respiratory infections in young children.
Levels in Homes: Average level in home without combustion appliances is about half that of outdoors. In
homes with gas stoves, kerosene heaters, or unvented gas space heaters indoor levels
often exceed outdoor levels. No indoor standard has been set for nitrogen dioxide or
nitrogen oxide. Healthy people are generally not affected at levels of 1.5 ppm or below,
but sensitive individuals can experience respiratory tract irritation at 0.5 ppm. EPA's
outdoor standard for maximum nitrogen dioxide is 0.05 ppm.
To Reduce Exposure: See steps under carbon monoxide.
Sources: Household products including: paints, paint strippers, and other solvents; wood
preservatives; adhesives; aerosol sprays; cleaners and disinfectants; moth repellents; air
fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; dry cleaned clothing;
synthetic materials in carpeting, wall coverings, linoleum.
Health Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to
liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals;
some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
Levels in Homes: Levels of several indoor organics average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors.
During and for several hours immediately after certain activities, such as paint stripping,
levels may be 1000 times above outdoor levels.
To Reduce Exposure: Use household products according to manufacturer's directions or use alternative
products. Use products outdoors or in well-ventilated indoor areas. Throw away unused
or little-used containers safely; buy in quantities that you will use soon. Store chemicals
in a well-ventilated outdoor area.
Sources: Products used to kill household pests (insecticides and rodenticides). Also, products used
on lawns and gardens that drift or are tracked inside the house (herbicides and
Health Effects: Irritation to eyes, nose, and throat; damage to central nervous system and kidney;
Levels in Homes: Preliminary research shows widespread presence of pesticide residues in homes.
To Reduce Exposure: Use strictly according to manufacturer's directions. Mix or dilute outdoors away from
water supply. Apply only in recommended quantities. Take plants or pets outside, when
possible to spray. Increase ventilation when using indoors. Use non-chemical methods of
pest control where possible. If you use a pest control company, select it carefully. Do not
store unneeded pesticides inside the home; dispose of unwanted containers safely.
Store clothes with moth repellents in separately ventilated areas, if possible. Keep
indoor spaces clean and well-ventilated in order to eliminate or minimize use of air
Sources: Sanding or open-flame burning of lead-based paint (in 2/3 of homes built before 1940,
1/3 of homes built from 1940 to 1960). Activities involving lead solder. Automobile
exhaust. Lead in drinking water leached from pipes using lead solder. (Soft and corrosive
water can leach lead from pipes and plumbing fixtures.)
Health Effects: Impaired mental and physical development in fetuses and young children. Decreased
coordination and mental abilities; damage to kidneys, nervous system, and red blood
cells. May increase high blood pressure.
Levels in Homes: Lead dust levels 10 to 100 times greater in homes where sanding or open-flame burning
of lead-based paints has occurred.
To Reduce Exposure: If you suspect that paint you are removing may contain lead, have it tested. Unless it is
peeling or flaking off, leave lead-based paint undisturbed. Do not sand or burn off. Cover
lead-based paint with vinyl wallpaper or other building material (sheetrock). Replace
lead-containing moldings and other woodwork or have them removed and chemically
treated off-site. Use well-ventilated areas for hobby and house maintenance activities
involving lead. Use "non-lead" solder. If lead exposure is suspected, consult your health
department about appropriate removal and clean-up procedures and have your blood
lead levels tested. Have your drinking water tested for lead.
Sources: Poorly-maintained humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners; dishwashing,
showers, baths, cooking, launderings, indoor spa, hot tub and sauna. Moisture-related
micro-organisms such as spores, mold, mildew, mites, bacteria and viruses may multiply
in high humidity.
Health Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; shortness of breath; dizziness; lethargy; fever; digestive
problems. Asthma; humidifier fever; influenza and other infectious diseases.
Levels in Homes: Indoor levels of pollen and fungi are lower than outdoor levels (except where indoor
sources of fungi are present). Indoor levels of mites are higher than outdoor levels.
To Reduce Exposure: Install and use fans vented to outdoors in kitchens and bathrooms. Vent clothes dryers
to outdoors. Clean cool mist and ultrasonic humidifiers daily and use only distilled water
in them. Empty water trays in air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators
frequently. Use basements as living areas only if they are leak-proof and have adequate
ventilation. Use dehumidifiers, if necessary to maintain humidity at 30-50 percent. Clean
and dry, or remove, water-damaged carpets.
RESPIRABLE SUSPENDED PARTICLES (RSP)
Sources: Fireplaces, wood stoves, and kerosene heaters. Tobacco smoke. Soap powders, pollen,
lint and dust. (Tobacco smoke and asbestos listed separately.)
Health Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; respiratory infections and bronchitis; lung cancer.
(Effects attributable to environmental tobacco smoke are listed elsewhere.)
Levels in Homes: As of yet no standard for RSP's, although EPA has an outdoor standard for total
suspended particulates (TSP) - 75 ug/m3. Particle levels in homes without smoking or
other strong particle sources are the same as, or lower than, outdoor levels, 20 ug/m3.
In one study with two or more smokers, an average monthly concentration of RSP was
measured at 75 ug/m3.
To Reduce Exposure: Vent all furnaces to outdoors; keep inside doors to the rest of the house open when
using unvented space heaters. Choose properly sized wood stoves, certified to meet EPA
emission standards; make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly. Have a
trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnace, flues,
and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly. Change filters on central heating and
cooling systems and air cleaners according to manufacturer's directions.
Sources: Deteriorating or damaged insulation, flooring, pipe wrap fireproofing, exterior siding,
acoustical materials, and many other construction materials found in older houses.
Health Effects: No immediate symptoms. Chest, abdominal and lung cancers and asbestosis. Smokers
are at higher risk of developing asbestos-induced lung cancer.
Levels in Homes: Elevated levels can occur in homes where asbestos-containing materials are damaged or
disturbed by cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities.
To Reduce Seek professional advice to identify potential asbestos problems. Do not disturb (cut, rip
Exposure: or sand) materials suspected of containing asbestos. Use trained and qualified
contractors for control measures that may disturb asbestos and for cleanup. Follow
proper procedures in replacing woodstove door gaskets that may contain asbestos.
Sources: Cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoking.
Health Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, bronchitis; pneumonia. Increased risk of
respiratory and ear infection in children. Can cause lung cancer and may contribute to
heart disease. Increased risk to radon and asbestos induced lung cancer.
Levels in Homes: Particle levels in homes without smokers or other strong particle sources are the same
as, or lower than, those outdoors. Homes with one or more smokers may have particle
levels several times higher than outdoor levels.
To Reduce Exposures: Stop smoking and discourage others from smoking. If you do smoke, smoke outdoors.
If you evaluate air quality in your building, you can make a common-sense diagnosis by documenting health
complaints. Professionals often use the following questions when considering the possibility of indoor air pollution:
What health complaints have you experienced?
Are complaints reported by more than one team member?
When were these complaints first noticed?
Can you associate these complaints with certain events or activities?
Do the health complaints occur seasonally, at a particular time of the day or when in a particular part of
How often do the complaints occur and how long do they last?
Do the complaints or reactions go away when you are away from the building? Do they return when you
Do visitors have the same reactions or health complaints?
Are the complaints or reactions less severe when the building is ventilated?
Sampling techniques that detect and measure pollutants in a building vary in difficulty and expense. Testing for
some pollutants like organic compounds, carbon dioxide and asbestos, may require a certified industrial hygienist
using special equipment. These tests can cost up to several hundred dollars.
Inexpensive monitors or detectors which measure formaldehyde, radon, nitrogen dioxide, water vapor and other
pollutants from hardware and industrial hygiene stores can be purchased. The devices can be installed and left for
a certain period of time. Usually, you must return them to a laboratory for analysis and that cost is often included
in the purchase price of the monitor or detector.
One exception is asbestos. A sample of a suspected asbestos containing material can be sent to a lab for "bulk
analysis." Ask the laboratory about how to take the sample, and what safety precautions to observe. If you suspect
that there may be asbestos fibers circulating throughout your building, a different process is used. A sample for
airborne asbestos fibers requires special equipment and the skills of a trained asbestos removal contractor or
certified industrial hygienist. Of course the institution administrators should be notified, but you can find these
listed in the yellow pages or business section of your telephone directory.
The following checklist can be used to assess the potential for indoor air quality problems in your building. First,
carefully answer the following questions.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY ASSESSMENT CHECKLIST*
Do you have any unvented combustion appliances? Yes No
Is smoking allowed in the building? Yes No
Do building workers do: woodworking, gluing, jewelry making, pottery making, painting, soldering,
welding, photography or model building?
Do you use pressurized aerosol containers? Yes No
Is part of your work area below ground? Yes No
Are heating vents corroded or rusted? Yes No
Do you have water leakage in lowest floor? Yes No
Strength of Indoor Contaminants
Are unusual and noticeable odors in your training room? Yes No
Is the humidity level unusually high or is moisture noticeable on windows or other surfaces? Yes No
Does the air seem stale? Yes No
Are any of the following symptoms noticeable among team members: headaches, itchy or watery eyes,
nose or throat infection or dryness, dizziness, nausea, colds, sinus problems?
Is the training room unusually warm or cold? Yes No
Is there a noticeable lack of air movement? Yes No
Is dust on furniture noticeable? Yes No
Is dust or dirt staining walls, ceilings, or furniture? Yes No
High-Risk Team Members
Does anyone have asthma, bronchitis, allergies, heart problems or hypersensitivity pneumonitis? Yes No
Does anyone often complain of a headache only in the training room? Yes No
Give yourself one point for each yes: 10 or more yes answers may indicate the potential for poor indoor air quality.
*Adapted from the Home Indoor Air Quality Checklist, American Lung Association, 1988.
TABLE I: Common Indoor Air Pollutants, Sources, Health Impacts, and Controls
Pollutant Major Sources in the Home Possible Health Impacts Controls*
Asbestos Insulation on pipes and ducts, Lung cancer, asbestosis, Do not disturb existing asbestos
wood-stove gaskets, ceiling tiles, mesothelioma containing materials; for asbestos
resilient flooring and tiles, containing materials that are
thermal insulation friable (flaking or crumbling), coat
with a sealant, enclose with
airtight structure or have
removed by a professional
asbestos abatement contractor
Biological Molds, mildews and fungi, Allergies, respiratory Control relative humidity in
Contaminants bacteria, viruses, dust mites irritation, infectious house; ventilation and use of
diseases outside vented exhaust fans; if
humidifiers are used, clean
reservoir daily with chorine
bleach or disinfectant, or follow
manufacturer's instructions for
Combustion Unvented space heaters (natural Headaches, drowsiness, Supply adequate combustion air
Products gas, propane gas, kerosene, fuel dizziness (carbon dioxide) for appliances, especially by use
Carbon Dioxide oil and charcoal), unvented gas Impairment of vision and of outside air for combustion;
Carbon stoves, woodstoves and brain functioning, irregular have gas or oil furnaces and
Monoxide fireplaces, tobacco smoke, human heart functioning, nausea, exhaust systems checked
Nitrogen respiration, outside air mental confusion, death annually; use exhaust fans vented
Dioxide (carbon monoxide) to outside; use catalytic
Respiratory distress and converters on kerosene and
lung damage (nitrogen woodstove heaters; use
dioxide). multistage kerosene space
heaters; air cleaners
Formaldehyde Particle board, plywood, paneling, Irritation of skin, eyes and Use building materials with little
ureaformaldehyde foam mucous membranes (nose or no formaldehyde; seal
insulation, furnishings and and throat), headaches, formaldehyde -containing floor
finishes on home textiles. nausea, dizziness, coughing and wall surfaces with vinyl
flooring, vinyl wallpaper and
air cleaners; ventilate area of
house where formaldehyde-
containing products are in use.
Particulates Liquid, aerosol or solid particles Allergic reactions, eye and House ventilation, outside-
from combustion processes respiratory irritation, vented exhaust fans, air filters
(unvented space heaters, wood- respiratory function and cleaners; restrict use of
stoves, fireplaces, unvented gas impairment, cancer, products or equipment; use
stoves, tobacco smoke), cleaning chromosome damage alternative products.
and cooking sprays, asbestos,
Radon Soil and well-water from private Lung Cancer House ventilation, sealing, soil
supplies ventilation, house pressure
Volatile Household chemicals and Range of possible effects, Follow use and storage
Organic products (including pesticides, ranging from headaches, instructions on labels; use
Compounds painting supplies, solvents, eye and respiratory outside vented exhausts; increase
adhesives, cleaners and waxes, irritation to central nervous ventilation in house; use solvents
moth crystals, air fresheners, system disorders, and paint products outside when
fabric protectors, chlorine liver/kidney effects, cancer possible; use alternative
bleach), aerosol propellants, dry and chromosome damage products; air cleaners
cleaned products, tobacco smoke
and combustion processes
* Controls other than those mentioned may be suitable for individual houses; not all controls
may be appropriate for individual houses