Indoor air pollutants: limited-resource households and child care facilities.Introduction
People living in limited-resource households are exposed disproportionately to indoor air pollutants pollutants
see environmental pollution. ; their exposure is likely related to housing quality and socioeconomic status socioeconomic status,
n the position of an individual on a socio-economic scale that measures such factors as education, income, type of occupation, place of residence, and in some populations, ethnicity and religion. (Chi & Laquatra, 1990; Evans & Kantrowitz, 2002; Farr & Dolbeare, 1996). Without regular maintenance, older homes are more likely than newer homes to manifest chipping lead paint, friable friable /fri·a·ble/ (fri´ah-b'l) easily pulverized or crumbled.
1. Readily crumbled; brittle.
2. Relating to a dry, brittle growth of bacteria. asbestos, cracked foundations, and leaking combustion equipment. These conditions contribute to the presence of lead, asbestos, radon, mold, and combustion products as air pollutants, some of which are known asthma triggers. Although environmental and health officials work to raise public awareness about residential indoor air quality Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) deals with the content of interior air that could affect health and comfort of building occupants. The IAQ may be compromised by microbial contaminants (mold, bacteria), chemicals (such as carbon monoxide, radon), allergens, or any mass or energy stressor , pollutant pol·lut·ant
Something that pollutes, especially a waste material that contaminates air, soil, or water. abatement remains a private responsibility. Systematic approaches to assist limited-resource households assess and address indoor air pollutant risks are missing from policy discussions. The fact that individuals in limited-resource households tend to be renters rather than owners complicates the problem. Who is responsible for abating indoor air pollutants, and from where will resources come to carry out these tasks without affecting the affordability of housing? Although toxic tort A toxic tort is a special type of personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims that exposure to a chemical caused the plaintiff's toxic injury or disease. Different types
Toxic torts arise in different contexts. litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. has been used as a strategy for compensation in cases involving indoor environmental contamination, this is not a practical solution on a widespread basis.
Roberts and Dickey (1995) cited studies that document the incidence of indoor air pollution and its negative impacts on children, which include lead poisoning lead poisoning or plumbism (plŭm`bĭz'əm), intoxication of the system by organic compounds containing lead. , leukemia leukemia (lkē`mēə), cancerous disorder of the blood-forming tissues (bone marrow, lymphatics, liver, spleen) characterized by excessive production of immature or mature , and allergies. For physiological and behavioral reasons, children are at higher risk than adults of adverse health effects from environmental toxicants (Goldman, 1995; Staes, Balk balk
the action of a horse when it refuses to obey a command to which it usually responds. See also jibbing. , Ford, Passantino, & Torrice, 1994).
Asthma, for example, is a growing concern for children; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center. (CDC See Control Data, century date change and Back Orifice.
CDC - Control Data Corporation ) report that the prevalence of asthma among children increased by an average of 4.3 percent per year between 1980 and 1996. Asthma is the cause of 14 million missed school days annually, is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization hospitalization /hos·pi·tal·iza·tion/ (hos?pi-t'l-i-za´shun)
1. the placing of a patient in a hospital for treatment.
2. the term of confinement in a hospital. of children under 15 years of age, and entails an estimated $3.2 billion per year in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. in costs of treating children under 18 years of age (CDC, 2003a).
Lead poisoning also is a hazard for children. Exposure to lead-contaminated dust and soil in and around older housing places children at risk for developmental delays developmental delay
A chronological delay in the appearance of normal developmental milestones achieved during infancy and early childhood, caused by organic, psychological, or environmental factors. and behavioral problems. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. CDC (2003b), up to 846,000 children in the United States between one and five years of age have blood lead levels (BLLs) greater than or equal to 10 [micro]g per deciliter deciliter /dec·i·li·ter/ (dL) (des´i-le?ter) one tenth (10minus;1) of a liter; 100 milliliters.
100 cubic centimeters (cc).
Mentioned in: Hypercholesterolemia ([micro]g/dL). Negative impacts on childhood health are associated with BLLs lower than 10 [micro]g/dL (Canfield can·field
A form of solitaire.
[After Richard Albert Canfield (1855-1914), American gambler.]
Noun 1. et al., 2003). Yet lead poisoning in residential settings is largely preventable (CDC, 2003b).
Efforts are needed to reduce pollutant exposure not only in homes but also in child care settings (Goodman et al., 1994). Community educators, physicians, and parents can play important roles in increasing awareness of and reducing indoor environmental risks. To create better solutions, better understanding of the extent of the risks is first necessary.
The study reported here involved assessing the levels of radon, asbestos, lead, combustion pollutants, and biological contaminants in homes and child care facilities in rural areas. A two-stage random-sampling procedure was used to obtain a representative sample of households in all non-metropolitan counties in New York There are sixty-two counties in the State of New York. Five of these are boroughs of New York City and do not have functioning county governments. New York City encompasses five counties, and is the county seat of all five of them: New York County (Manhattan), Kings County (Brooklyn), State. A cluster analysis Cluster analysis
A statistical technique that identifies clusters of stocks whose returns are highly correlated within each cluster and relatively uncorrelated across clusters. Cluster analysis has identified groupings such as growth, cyclical, stable, and energy stocks. was performed on the 24 non-metropolitan counties in the state, as defined by the 1990 census, to determine similar groupings of counties to be used as categories in a stratified sampling Noun 1. stratified sampling - the population is divided into subpopulations (strata) and random samples are taken of each stratum
proportional sampling, representative sampling
sampling - (statistics) the selection of a suitable sample for study design. The groupings were based on six housing characteristics: average number of persons per household, proportion of housing units in multiple-family dwellings, proportion of manufactured homes, proportion of housing units occupied by renters, proportion of housing units built before 1979, and proportion of housing units built from 1980 to 1989. The cluster analysis resulted in six groupings of counties. When one county was randomly selected from each group, the resulting selection comprised Chenango, Columbia, Essex, Franklin, Wyoming, and Hamilton counties Hamilton County is the name of a number of counties in the United States of America, named for Alexander Hamilton, first United States Secretary of the Treasury (except as indicated below):
To arrive at a total sample of approximately 350, weighted random sampling based on population was conducted in each county. The final sample size was n = 328. Telephone surveys with an adult head of the 328 households were conducted to determine demographic and housing characteristics. Each household was offered air quality tests; 132 households consented, and a technician tested these homes during the heating season of 2000-2001. Table 1 gives the household demographic profiles for the sample.
To select child care facilities for the study, the authors obtained a listing of all child care facilities from the Daycare and Child Development Council in each of the six counties. Facilities included family daycare (up to six children cared for in the home of a provider), group family daycare (up to 12 children in a home), and daycare centers (located in a community facility--e.g., a church). From the list of 500 facilities obtained, 150 were randomly selected to receive a letter describing the study and requesting participation; a second letter was later sent to obtain a final sample of 75 facilities.
Of the 75 facilities, 13 were centers (a church, a community building, or a building designed as a child care center); 52 were family daycare homes; and 10 were group family daycare homes. Directors of the 75 facilities completed a telephone survey and were offered indoor air quality tests. Although 57 facilities initially granted such permission, only 24 facilities actually made appointments for site visits once testing began. This unwillingness to participate is understandable given liability concerns. A technician conducted the on-site air quality tests during the heating season of 2000-2001. Of the 24 facilities in which air quality tests were conducted, seven were centers, 14 were family daycare homes, and three were group family daycare homes.
Radon levels were tested with activated carbon canisters in the lowest living area of each home. Carbon monoxide carbon monoxide, chemical compound, CO, a colorless, odorless, tasteless, extremely poisonous gas that is less dense than air under ordinary conditions. It is very slightly soluble in water and burns in air with a characteristic blue flame, producing carbon dioxide; levels were tested with a Bacharach[R] sample draw carbon monoxide analyzer for 10-15 minutes in the central living area of each household; within 5 feet of fuel-burning central heating central heating
a system for heating a building by means of radiators or air vents connected to a central source of heat
centrally heated adj
Noun 1. systems; and, in homes with gas ranges and ovens, at the gas oven vent at oven startup and when the oven reached 350[degrees]F. The technician made visual tests for asbestos and basement mold. Surface-dust sampling, with a gauze gauze (gawz) a light, open-meshed fabric of muslin or similar material.
absorbable gauze gauze made from oxidized cellulose. pad moistened with distilled water Noun 1. distilled water - water that has been purified by distillation
H2O, water - binary compound that occurs at room temperature as a clear colorless odorless tasteless liquid; freezes into ice below 0 degrees centigrade and boils above 100 degrees centigrade; , was used to test for lead on the floor beneath windows.
Radon levels were regressed on income, the presence of mold in the basement, county, and whether a kitchen exhaust fan was ducted to the outdoors. The presence of mold was used as a proxy for general condition of the basement, county as a location indicator, and exhaust fan as a house depressurization indicator. House depressurization has been linked with elevated radon levels (Roberson, Brown, Koomey, & Greenberg, 1998). Test results for radon, lead, and carbon monoxide in households are given in Table 2. Visual identification results for asbestos and mold in households are given in Table 3.
The technician for this study visited 14 of the child care facilities during the heating season to conduct air quality tests that included carbon monoxide tests. Because none of the administrators of the remaining seven facilities agreed to activate heating systems during the warmer months when they were visited, heating system-related carbon monoxide tests were not conducted at those facilities. In addition, 15 facilities had electric cook stoves, so only nine oven-related carbon monoxide tests were conducted. For the total of 17 heating system-related carbon monoxide levels that were measured, no levels over the maximum exposure level were detected, not even in one facility in which a disconnected flue flue
see underflue. pipe for a liquefied petroleum gas-fired water heater was discovered. Carbon monoxide levels for the eight gas ovens ranged from 60 to 480 ppm at the startup spike (mean = 327.12; SD = 280.92). Levels at oven temperature ranged from 6 to 33 ppm (mean = 13.12; SD = 11.41).
Testing for radon, lead, asbestos, and mold in the child care facilities followed the same procedures used for the homes.
Results from the radon regression show a significant and negative relationship between household income and radon. This negative relationship is likely due to lower-quality housing among lower-income groups and housing deficiencies that create radon pathways, such as foundation cracks and dirt basement floors.
Regressions with carbon monoxide and lead levels, with independent variables related to age and condition of the house, did not show this relationship. This may be due to the small number of homes (seven) with lead in floor dust above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA's) maximum allowable level of 40 [micro]g/[ft.sup.2]. However, there was a significant and negative correlation Noun 1. negative correlation - a correlation in which large values of one variable are associated with small values of the other; the correlation coefficient is between 0 and -1
indirect correlation between income and carbon monoxide levels at oven temperature (350[degrees]F) (r = -.402; p = .01), which is probably related to insufficient exhaust in the kitchen or poorly maintained appliances. All told, 60 percent of the homes in the sample had no sufficient exhaust in the kitchen: 26 percent had no exhaust fan or operable operable /op·er·a·ble/ (op´er-ah-b'l) subject to being operated upon with a reasonable degree of safety; appropriate for surgical removal.
adj. window in the kitchen; 4 percent had fans that did not work, and 30 percent had recirculating fans. Lower-income households also are more likely to have older cooking appliances that have not been maintained.
Table 4 indicates that unsafe levels of lead and radon were observed in the child care facilities. Particularly disturbing are the lead levels detected, which were seven times higher than U.S. EPA's maximum exposure level. Table 5 shows that asbestos was present in 27 percent of the facilities. Friability fri·a·ble
Readily crumbled; brittle: friable asbestos insulation.
[Latin fri was not analyzed because of university concerns over liability. Therefore, the authors cannot make any conclusions about hazard level. Mold was observed in one-third of the facilities. One of these was a recently constructed facility with a wet crawlspace crawl·space or crawl space
A low or narrow space, such as one beneath the upper or lower story of a building, that gives workers access to plumbing or wiring equipment.
Noun 1. that was littered with debris.
The finding of a significant and negative relationship between income and radon exposure in this sample is similar to the finding by Chi and Laquatra (1990). It does not mean that low household income increases radon levels in a home, but that low-income households tend to live in lower-quality housing than do higher-income households. In areas prone to high radon levels, those lower-quality units are likely to have more radon pathways into the home. In a study of indoor air quality in 23 low-income homes, Tsongas (1995) reported that one-third of the homes had ovens that caused carbon monoxide levels exceeding 9 ppm in the cooking area. Tsongas also reported on several other studies that examined oven-produced carbon monoxide levels in homes. One recommendation from that research was the need to stress the importance of using exhaust fans while cooking to reduce carbon monoxide. This recommendation is not always practical, however, as 60 percent of the homes in the current study did not have operable kitchen exhaust fans. The significant and negative correlation between oven-produced carbon monoxide and income warrants further study.
Although the two-stage random-sampling procedure used in this study produced a representative sample of all non-metropolitan counties in New York State, the small sample size warrants a cautious interpretation of results. The significant relationships observed between lower-income households and certain indoor air pollutants have, however, been reported by other researchers and should be investigated in a larger follow-up study.
In the child care facilities, the high levels of radon and lead and the presence of mold are cause for serious concern. The highest lead level (240 [micro]g/[ft.sup.2]) and highest radon level (6.9 picocuries per liter [pCi/L]) were observed in two different centers. Basement mold was observed in one center and five homes. Asbestos was visually identified in three centers and three homes, but its presence alone does not indicate a health hazard health hazard Occupational safety Any agent or activity posing a potential hazard to health. Cf Physical hazard. . For asbestos to pose a health hazard, it must be friable and airborne. Although analyses to determine the extent of asbestos hazards were not conducted as part of this research, it is worth noting that to prevent hazards from occurring, the asbestos would require ongoing observation and maintenance. Whether such maintenance occurs and whether children are experiencing environmental-pollutant exposures in both their homes and their child care facilities are subjects worthy of further investigation.
Conclusions and Implications
The results reported in this paper contribute to the growing discussion about indoor air quality in lower-income households and child care facilities. Health officials and policy makers agree that indoor air pollutants pose serious health risks, and they expend ex·pend
tr.v. ex·pend·ed, ex·pend·ing, ex·pends
1. To lay out; spend: expending tax revenues on government operations. See Synonyms at spend.
2. considerable resources to raise public awareness of these risks. The fact that pollutant mitigation in privately owned homes remains a personal responsibility, however, creates a policy dilemma. Rural areas of New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of State have been characterized for years as being in a state of economic decline, which has negative impacts on household income and housing quality (Ziebarth, Prochaska-Cue, & Shrewsbury, 1997). Low-income households have few if any resources for pollutant abatement. A companion study currently under way at Cornell University Cornell University, mainly at Ithaca, N.Y.; with land-grant, state, and private support; coeducational; chartered 1865, opened 1868. It was named for Ezra Cornell, who donated $500,000 and a tract of land. With the help of state senator Andrew D. is examining the effectiveness of teaching residents of low-income households strategies to minimize their risks of exposure to indoor air pollutants.
Indoor air quality in child care facilities should be an important concern of facility owners and parents. A three-pronged approach may be necessary to broaden public awareness. First, at the policy level, indoor air quality standards could become part of facility license granting and license renewals. Local health departments could administer these requirements when they review other safety measures safety measures,
n.pl actions (e.g., use of glasses, face masks) taken to protect patients and office personnel from such known hazards as particles and aerosols from high-speed rotary instruments, mercury vapor, radiation exposure, anesthetic and . Second, facility owners and directors could be educated about these issues and thereby stay ahead of the policy curve. Initiatives to improve or expand child care facilities could include improving indoor air quality. Design criteria Noun 1. design criteria - criteria that designers should meet in designing some system or device; "the job specifications summarized the design criteria"
criterion, standard - the ideal in terms of which something can be judged; "they live by the standards of their for renovations also might include attention to reducing exposure to chemicals in flooring or furnishings and ensuring adequate air flow (Staes et al., 1994).
Third, parents could be educated about the issues so that they can inquire about indoor air quality before enrolling their children in child care facilities. Physicians and other health care providers could provide information to parents on environmental risks during routine immunizations (Koch, 1994).
Should public resources, such as low-interest loans or grants, be made available to low-income households and child care facilities for indoor air-pollutant mitigation? To evaluate this question, the overall cost of indoor air pollution to society needs to be examined. Lead poisoning in children leads to lowered intelligence levels and behavioral problems (Canfield et al., 2003). Mold is a trigger for allergies and asthma, both of which lead to school and work absences, productivity losses, and increased health costs (Fisk Fisk , James 1834-1872.
American railroad financier and speculator who attempted in 1869 to corner the gold market with Jay Gould, leading to Black Friday, a day of nationwide financial panic. , 2000). Exposures to asbestos, carbon monoxide, and radon can lead to preventable deaths (American Lung Association The American Lung Association (ALA) is a non-profit organization that "fights lung disease in all its forms, with special emphasis on asthma, tobacco control and environmental health". , U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, & U.S. EPA EPA eicosapentaenoic acid.
n.pr See acid, eicosapentaenoic.
n. , 1996, 1997; U.S. EPA, 1993).
An analysis of the benefits and costs to society of improving indoor air quality in Low-income homes and child care facilities would be useful to provide guidance to policy makers about this issue. Future research could assess health care costs and the reduced productivity of affected children as students and future workers as well as the cost of facility renovation or replacement.
TABLE 1 Demographic Characteristics of the Households in the Sample Characteristic Minimum Maximum Mean Standard Deviation Age of household 22 86 53.61 14.25 head Education level Grade school Postgraduate Technical or -- vocational school Household income <$5,000 >$50,000 $23,900 $9,750.05 Number of 0 3 0.58 0.91 children TABLE 2 Test Results for Households Pollutant Maximum Minimum Maximum Mean Exposure Observed Observed Level* Radon 4 pCi/L 0.03 pCi/L 19.70 pCi/L 1.64 Lead 40 [micro]g/ 0.04[micro]g/ 660 [micro]g/ 16.92 [ft.sup.2] [ft.sup.2] [ft.sup.2] CO, central 9 ppm 0 ppm 14 ppm 0.70 heating CO, oven 100 ppm 0 ppm 1,544 ppm 185.75 start-up spike CO, at oven 25 ppm 0 ppm 213 ppm 18.04 temperature CO, living/ 9 ppm 0 ppm 14 ppm 0.39 family room Pollutant Standard N Deviation Radon 2.75 114 Lead 71.11 130 CO, central 2.36 96 heating CO, oven 341.83 126 start-up spike CO, at oven 32.2 46 temperature CO, living/ 1.64 127 family room *Maximum exposure levels are from the following sources: ** radon--U.S. EPA, ** lead--U.S. EPA, ** CO in living space--U.S. EPA, and ** CO oven startup spike and CO at oven temperature--Tsongas (1995). TABLE 3 Visual Identification Results for Households Pollutant Affirmative Negative N Asbestos 20 107 127 Basement mold 11 102 113 TABLE 4 Test Results for Child Care Facilities Pollutant Minimum Maximum Mean Standard Deviation N Radon 0.30 pCi/L 6.90 pCi/L 1.62 1.87 13 Lead 0.63 [micro]g/ 240 [micro]g/ 18.12 49.15 24 [ft.sup.2] [ft.sup.2] TABLE 5 Visual Identification Results for Child Care Facilities Pollutant Affirmative Negative N Asbestos 6 16 22 Basement mold 6 12 18
Acknowledgements: The authors are grateful for the assistance provided by Heidi Tinnes and Susan Lang in the preparation of this paper. Yasimin Miller, Director of the Survey Research Institute at Cornell University, assisted with the survey portion of this project. This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, under Hatch project NYC-327403.
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J. Laquatra, Ph.D.
L.E. Maxwell, Ph.D.
Corresponding Author: Joseph Laquatra, Hazel E. Reed Human Ecology Human ecology
The study of how the distributions and numbers of humans are determined by interactions with conspecific individuals, with members of other species, and with the abiotic environment. Extension Professor in Family Policy, Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, E-208 Martha Van Rensselaer Van Rens·se·laer , Killian or Kiliaen 1595-1644.
Dutch merchant who was a founder of the Dutch West India Company (1621) and established Rensselaerswyck (1635), the only successful privately held colony in America, on his estate in Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401. E-mail: JL27@cornell.edu.