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Most buildings contain asthma-linked substances: study

September 5, 2012

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New York – Many parts of indoor environments, such as structural materials and filtration systems, may contain substances linked to asthma, according to a study (.pdf file) from global interdisciplinary design firm Perkins+Will.

Researchers compared 374 known asthmagens – substances that elicit an asthma respiratory response – against lists of commonly used substances in building designs. They concluded 75 asthmagens were found in most buildings, contained in the following:

  • Building materials and furnishings
  • Central heating and cooling systems
  • Humidification devices
  • Household cleaning, personal care and hobby products

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that indoor environments (where Americans spend most of their time) contain pollutant levels 2-3 times higher, and sometimes 100 times higher, than outdoor environments, a Perkins+Will press release stated. The firm called on the building industry to improve indoor conditions.

The study was conducted for the National Institutes of Health. It was published Aug. 8 as part of the Perkins+Will Transparency Initiative.

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