Indoor Air Quality and Health

The following metrics attempt to capture information about the level of indoor air quality for each state and its’ related health impacts. Indoor air quality can affect human health at significant level because more than half of the air that humans inhale comes from the indoor air at home. The rate of lung transfer of indoor pollutants is 1000 times higher than that of outdoor pollutants, meaning that those who stay more at home such as children, and the elderly would be more vulnerable to indoor pollutants.

Major pollutants of indoor air are: carbon monoxide being released from activities such as cooking, radon released from the soil, lead from lead-based paints, pesticides, tobacco smoking, fungus (molds) caused by dampness, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from building components or furnishings, and asbestos from housing materials (Mitchell et al., 2007).

It is also important regarding the health inequality. Low-income families also have a higher probability of living in crowded, older, and deteriorated houses with higher levels of dust, higher likelihood of leaded paint still on the walls and in the dust, and asbestos in the ceiling tiles, hot air exhausts and wrapped around pipes. Hence, the low-income households are likely to have poorer IAQ.

Sub-indicators for IAQ include both the level of main potential pollutants and related health effects with the metrics of Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Radon, Tobacco smoking, Pesticides, Mold, Asbestos, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Metrics and Data Sources:

Metric Name Definition Data Source
Carbon Monoxide Crude Death Rates of CO Poisoning per 100,000 Inhabitants by State CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (2010-2014)
Lead Lead in Blood among children under 72 months CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (2013)
Proportion of Houses built before 1980 The American Community Survey (ACS) of 2014
Radon The proportion of counties classified as Zone 1 that has the predicted average indoor level of radon as higher than 4pCi/L within state EPA, map of radon zone
Tobacco Smoking smoking rates among adults National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network of CDC
the smoke-free rate at home Current Population Survey of 2010-2011 (TUS-CPS) of the US Census Bureau
Pesticides reported pesticides exposures in a residential area U.S. Census Bureau “Current Population Survey Voting and Participation Supplement” (1996-2012)
Crude rate of pesticide-related illnesses per 100,000 persons in residential area National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (2014)
Molds Crude death rate due to mold infections WONDER database of CDC (2010-2014)
Asbestos Crude death rate of asbestos-related diseases EWG Action Fund (2015)
VOCs Crude death rate of acute myeloid leukemia WONDER database of CDC (2010-2014)



State CO Lead Radon Tbcc. Pest. Mold Asbes. VOC Avg.


Illinois 7 7 6 3.5 1 3 4 1 3.81 3
Indiana 7 4.5 8 7.5 7.5 3 3 4 6.06 6
Iowa 2 10 10 5 5.5 8 2 10 6.06 6
Kentucky 2 2.5 2 9 9.5 10 1 3 4.88 4
Michigan 2 4.5 1 6.5 2 1 5 2 3.25 1
Minnesota 10 2 9 2 6.5 3 7 8 6.56 9
Ohio 6 8 7 7 4 3 6 7 6.25 8
Washington 1 1 3 1 5.5 1 9 5 3.44 2
W.Virginia 9 4.5 5 10 9.5 9 10 6 7.75 10
Wisconsin 2 6.5 4 3.5 4 3 8 9 5.38 5

Metric Findings:

  • Indiana has an average score of 6.05 which was the sixth highest among all ten states. It has relatively lower ranks among ten Midwestern states in those toxic pollutants of IAQ like carbon monoxide, radon, pesticide, molds, and tobacco smoke. In the case of lead, asbestos, and VOCs, Indiana has an intermediate or higher ranks.
  • Michigan and Washington scored the highest among ten states, and West Virginia scored the worst among ten states.
  • It is necessary to strengthen the guidelines and educations, as well as regulations for the installation of CO detector or smoke-free act
  • Also, efforts to trace the environmental health indicators, and provide information to the public will help Indiana jump up to the better status.
  • Consideration for low-income families regarding health inequality would be required.

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