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Indoor Air Quality Health Effects

Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or even years later. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headaches; dizziness; and fatigue. Symptoms for diseases like asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever, may be triggered and/or made more severe soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants. Immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable. Treatment usually involves eliminating the person's exposure to the source of the pollution once it is identified.


The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors. Age and pre-existing medical conditions are two important influences. In other cases, whether a person reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies markedly from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological pollutants after repeated exposures, and it appears that some people can become sensitized to chemical pollutants as well. Second-hand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, also is a major indoor pollutant. Smokers should always smoke outside. Further, Coloradans should test their homes for radon - a common indoor air pollutant that occurs naturally in some soils and can seep into a home through cracks or openings in the foundation.