By HealthDay News HealthDay Reporter

Updated on June 15, 2022

SUNDAY, July 21, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- It's not only the smog outside that you have to worry about.

Indoor air pollution could be a potential health threat for you and your family, too.

That may be especially true if you live in a low-income household, says a Cornell University study that measured levels of such indoor pollutants as radon, mold, lead and asbestos in 328 houses and 75 child-care facilities in six New York state counties.

"We found levels of pollutants in homes and child-care facilities that we should be concerned about," says study author Joseph Laquatra, an associate professor of design and environmental analysis at Cornell's New York State College of Human Ecology.

The study was presented at the recent International Conference on Indoor Air and Climate held in Monterey, Calif.

"Even low levels of exposure to some of these pollutants is dangerous, and if you have a child who lives in a home with high radon, lead and mold levels and then spends the day being exposed to those same pollutants in a child-care facility, that child may be at significantly higher risk for lead poisoning, cancer, asthma attacks and allergies," Laquatra says in a prepared statement.

The study found people in low-income households have more exposure to indoor pollutants than people in higher-income homes. That's probably because lower-income residents live in poorer quality buildings more likely to have such problems as foundation cracks and dirt basements that allow pollutants to get into the homes.

Carbon monoxide, chipping lead paint and asbestos are other potential hazards. However, it can be difficult for low-income homeowners to find the money to make needed repairs and that can lead to serious health problems, Laquatra says.

"Lead poisoning in children leads to lowered intelligence and behavioral problems. Mold is a trigger for allergies and asthma, both of which lead to school and work absences, productivity losses and increased health costs," Laquatra says.

More information

The Environmental Protection Agency says indoor air pollutant levels may by two to five times higher than outdoor pollutant levels. For more details about indoor air quality, visit this EPA site.

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