Over 40 years ago, the topic of indoor air quality (IAQ) was not yet a line item on our national agenda. Beginning in the 1960’s, the concept of outdoor air pollution gained momentum to the point that it was considered a credible health risk. The government eventually intervened. In 1970 Congress proposed and President Nixon signed into law, the creation of both OSHA and the EPA. Not long after, scientists and healthcare workers began to see a correlation between disease and impurities in indoor air, as well. Considering Americans spend between 70-90% of their time inside, contracting illnesses stemming from indoor contaminants is highly probable without risk intervention.
IAQ plays a major role with regard to public health. We know this. We also know that there are people in government and the private sector both, who are working on our behalf to keep us safe from illness. What organizations, exactly, are working behind the scenes to ensure the quality of the indoor air we inhale? And what is it they do to achieve their advocacy goals?
It is easiest to understand who represents our interests if they are separated into government and non-government entities. Here is just a sampling of the many groups aimed at guarding against environmental air impurities.
Those departments that exist outside the federal executive branch are called Independent Federal Agencies. Two such agencies that focus on IAQ are the EPA and NEEF.
* EPA. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to safeguard human health and the environment by its commitment to ensure that all US residents are protected from significant risk where they live, learn and work. The EPA does this by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by congress.
The EPA’s view on IAQ is that scientific evidence has indicated that for most Americans, threats to health via air pollution may be greater indoors than out. (1)
* NEEF. The National Environmental Education Act of 1990 established the National Environmental Education Foundation, an organization within the EPA to promote the EPA’s goals by fostering environmental education. (2)
Federal Executive Departments are headed by Secretaries and form the traditional Cabinet to the US President. Within several of these departments are agencies that serve as advisory bodies to the President and Congress on environmental matters. The US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) maintains control over two IAQ-focused organizations.
* CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), controls NIOSH, the National Institute For Occupational Safety and Health, which is a federal agency with more than 1,300 employees and is responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. Their purpose is to determine the major types of hazards in the workplace and ways of controlling them. (3)
* NIH (the National Institutes of Health) is the primary agency of the US government responsible for biomedical and health related research. As part of NIH, the National Library of Medicine (NLM), maintains print and digital resources, supports and conducts research, promotes and provides access to health info to communities all across the US. (4)
Within the US Department of Labor is, perhaps, the most well known organizational advocate of the American worker, OSHA. The mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is to prevent workplace related injuries, illnesses and deaths by issuing and enforcing rules (standards) for workplace safety and health. (5)
Beyond government organizations paid for with US tax dollars, there are numerous other businesses that promote and advocate for clean indoor air. Groups like the American Medical Association, CleanAir.org, and the American Lung Association all look for ways to keep Americans safe and free of preventable illnesses, which includes advocating for clean IAQ. Worldwide, organizations such as the World Health Organization (a United Nations agency for public health), look the globe over for ways to protect its inhabitants and promote clean air, indoors and out.
At Air Systems Inc.providing our customers with systems to ensure clean and pure indoor air is our main concern. For nearly 40 years we have been Cleaning The Air You Breathe. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced clean air specialists.