Tobacco Fact File


Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality


Breathing clean air is basic to our quality of life.

Polluted Air Can Make Even Healthy 

People Gasp and Wheeze

Think of what it would be like to have to struggle for each breath. Lung disease robs over 100,000 Maine children and adults of their ability to breathe easily. Polluted air can make healthy people cough and wheeze. For people who suffer with lung disease air pollution can mean discomfort, limited activities, increased use of medications, more frequent visits to doctors and hospitals, and even a shortened life.

Indoor Air Pollution


Studies from the United States and Europe show that people in industrialized nations spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors. For infants, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, and most people who live in urban areas, the percentage is probably higher. In some cases, the concentrations of many pollutants indoors is even higher than outdoors. The lung is the most common site of injury by airborne pollutants. Our goal is to assure excellent air quality in all indoor environments, but some locations are cause for special concern. School buildings, for example, are a unique indoor environment. They are the only location where young children are required by law to be present and breathe the air. Therefore, it can be argued that we have a responsibility to assure excellent air quality in these buildings.

Tobacco Fact File supports an approach towards continual improvement of indoor air quality that focuses on pollution prevention, while ensuring adequate ventilation. Air cleaning may need to be considered, as long as the air cleaning methods have proven effectiveness and do not introduce harmful amounts of pollutants into the indoor environment. (see definitions)

Tips For Improving School Air Quality ...

These steps, as part of an overall program, can dramatically improve indoor air quality and can be helpful to children with asthma:

- Make sure classrooms receive an adequate amount of fresh air and the ventilation system is well maintained.
- Keep all air vents clean and unblocked.
- Do not allow school buses to idle outside near air intake vents.
- Position dumpsters away from outdoor air intakes, doors and operable windows.
- Place floor mats at entrances to prevent dirt, dander and other contaminants from spreading throughout the school.
- Schedule renovations and repairs for times when students are not in the building.
- Consider air quality when purchasing maintenance supplies. Ask about the safest most effective products. Read labels. Use and store products properly.
- Dry wet carpets within 24 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Avoid pets in the classrooms. 

Some of the more common indoor air pollutants are:

- Secondhand Smoke
- Carbon Monoxide
- Molds 
- Bio-aerosols 
- Particulates
- Dust Mites
- Animal Dander
- Fragrances
- Asbestos & Radon
- Volatile Organic and Non-organic Compounds
(e.g., formaldehyde, pesticides, cleaning solvents) 
- Heavy Metals 
(e.g. airborne lead & mercury vapor)


Outdoor Air Pollution

Poor air quality affects everyone but we are especially concerned about over 100,000 Maine children and adults with chronic lung disease. Recent studies have shown that severe health effect can occur in response to air pollution levels commonly experienced in Maine. Though we like to think Maine air is clean, air pollution blows in from other states and in-state pollutants add to the problem.

Nationally, millions of tons of harmful gasses and particles are released into the air each year. Fine particles and ozone are of particular concern because recent health studies indicate there may be no safe level of exposure to these pollutants. Molds, pollens, and strong odors receive relatively little regulatory attention but are significant outdoor air quality concerns for asthma and allergy suffers.

Tobacco Fact File supports an approach towards the continual improvement of the outdoor air that focuses on pollution prevention. We support strategies that:

- Consider the available knowledge base; where the knowledge base is inadequate, we should err on the side of caution, and promote research proposals that address these knowledge gaps;
- Consider the comparative risks and benefits of alternative measures to improve outdoor air quality;
- Consider a comprehensive set of intervention tools, which would include 1) increasing the knowledge base (monitoring/research), 2) education, 3) policy development, 4) enforcement, and 5) litigation when necessary;
- Consider air pollution problems in their appropriate geographical context.

Ensure that pollution prevention strategies based on energy conservation not compromise the healthfulness of the indoor environment.


Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality  | Air Quality Statements