Preliminary Program Participants and Abstracts

2.4.4    Management of Pollutants in the Home
Processes which produce contamination in the home
A.    Combustion
B.     Outgassing (evaporation from solid materials)
B.1   Organochlorine compounds, VOCs, Phenols, Radon gas, Toxic metals
B.2    Formaldehyde
B.3    Fabrics, Furnishings and Finishes
B.4   Household and GardenProducts
B.5    Asbestos
B.6    Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs)
B.7    Fiberglass

C.    Oxidation
D.   Electromagnetic Fields
E.   Biological Processes
F.    Lead
G.    Pollutants in building materials
H.   Major contaminants in the home and their sources
I.   Hazards in our homes
Section 2.4.4   Assesment Scoring

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to top of the page
Back to the List of Participants with Research Papers
Back to Final Program

2.4.4    Management of Pollutants in the Home


Over the past few years concern has grown about the quality of air, food, water, and sound inside homes. This concern has greatly increased with the development of energy-efficient housing and the associated reduction in natural air leakage. Low level exposure to some contaminants may be hazardous over long periods of time, and may lead to health problems.

Contamination is found in air, food, drinking water and sound. Using the best air available to us as the air found at mountain tops, the pollution gradient increases by thousands of times in cities, depending upon the number of automobiles, agricultural practices (spraying and fertilizing), weather conditions, and polluting industries.

Many factors affect the quality of outdoor air: pollen from agriculture and nature, industrial emissions, urban contamination, humidity, dust, winds, automobile exhaust, house and garden chemicals, and agricultural chemicals.

Some important outdoor contaminants are:

*    carbon monoxide from car exhausts;
*    nitrous oxides from burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas);
*    sulphur dioxides from refineries, sour gas fields, cars, catalytic converters;
*    Ozone due to the interaction of sunlight on air pollution caused by burning of fossil fuels;
*    particulates from hydrocarbon particles, pollen, silicon compounds, molds;
*    lead from leaded gas, factory emissions, paint;
*    electromagnetic pollution from power lines; and
*    organic pollutants from car exhausts, pesticides, fertilizers, and methane.

The method of controlling indoor air quality requires knowledge of the source of contamination and removing it, if possible, and of ways of sealing completely or neutralizing those sources that cannot be removed, i.e. a good mechanical ventilation system.

Some important environmental indoor air contaminants are:

*    products of combustion such as CO2, CO, oxides of nitrogen;
*    CO2 from breathing;
*    formaldehyde and asbestos fibres;
*    synthetic materials from carpets, mattresses, foam rubber, and plastics;
*    fossil fuel heating using gas, oil, coal, and wood;
*    pesticides;
*    electromagnetic radiation from TV sets, radios, electric blankets, power cables/outlets and appliances;
*    water droplets that carry bacteria and viruses; and
*    odours, dust and soot from combustion processes.

Good indoor air quality is defined as the absence of any substance in the air that is a health or a source of discomfort to the people in their homes. Health and Welfare Canada and other organizations have published guidelines for exposure to indoor air pollutants in homes. The following tables define guidelines as limits to the safe exposure to contaminants.

Current Recommended Maximum Contaminant Level
Passive smoking 0.15 (-) (-)
Nitrogen dioxide 0.32 5.0 0.1(avtime 1 year)
Carbon monoxide 30.00 55.0 40.00(1 hour)
Carbon dioxide 12,000.00 9000.0 4500.000(continuous)
Formaldehyde 0.12 2.5 0.120(continuous)
Sulphur dioxide 1.35 5.0 0.080 (1 year)
Ozone 0.15 0.2 0.100
Particulates (-) 5.0 0.75(1 year)
Asbestos(fibres/m3) 70 (-) 37(1 year)
Radon(Bq/m3) 70 (-) 37(1 year)

Note:  (-) means figures not available
WHO    =    World Health Organization
HSE    =    Health and Safety Executive
ASHRAE    =    American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers

Health and Safety Canada Guidelines
Acceptable long-term exposure(considered safe for continuous exposure over a lifetime)
Acceptable short-term exposure(for a specific period of time, typically one to 24 hours)
Carbon dioxide 3500 ppm Less than 7000 ppm
Formaldehyde 0.05 ppm Less than 0.1 ppm
Carbon monoxide none Less than 11 ppm averaged over 8 hours
Nitrogen dioxide Less than 0.052 ppm Less than 0.25 ppm averaged over 1 hour
Sulphur dioxide  Less than 0.019 ppm Less than 0.38 ppm averaged over 5 minutes
Moisture(water vapour) 30% to 80% relative humidity in the summer; 30% to 55% in the winter 100%
Ozone Less than 40 mg/m3 Less than 100 mg/m3 averaged over 1 hour

The effects of pollutants on health are dealt by specialists working with branches of clinical ecology and research medicine: allergy specialists, occupational health specialists, cancer researchers, toxicologists and many more. They are capable of determining which pollutants are causing an illness. These pollutants are found in food, water, air, drugs, clothing, building materials, at home, at work, in the yard.

The air inside residential buildings contains naturally occurring and man-made gases and particles which may come from outdoors, or from processes such as combustion, outgasing, oxidation, or biological activity. The air necessitates regular air change to prevent an unhealthy buildup.

New homes are designed to reduce air leakages, improve comfort and energy efficiency, and often use fan operated heat recovery ventilation to improve air quality.

Most air pollutants produced at the earth's surface last only a short period of time in the atmosphere. Most fall quickly back to earth, are washed out by rain or snow, or destroyed upon contact with other chemicals.

However, a few chemicals remain intact in the atmosphere for long periods ot time and reach the Ozone layer. The following table shows a few of the most important chemicals remaining in the atmosphere for long periods of time.
Life-time in the atmosphere (years)
CFCs Refrigerators, car air conditioners, foam cushioning and insulation, solvent, sterilant 100
HCFCs Home air conditioners, plastic insulation & packaging, foam, some aerosols 15
Halons Fire extinguishers, fire suppressant systems 100
Carbon tetrachloride Solvents, production of CFCs, chlorine & pesticides 50
Methyl Chloroform Industrial solvent for cleaning metal & electronics 6

Widespread use of pesticides and fertilizers by farmers is producing food with inadequate nutrient value and contamination. The addition of preservatives and additives is done in all food products, and can cause problems.

Drinking water is coming from sources already contaminated by industry or agriculture.If it comes from rivers, people get all the wastes from upstream (or wastes that could be treated); water coming from wells contain runoff from toxic waste dumps, factory dumps, or agricultural runoff; water from reservoirs will have the agricultural runoff of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and defoliants.

To protect our drinking water from being contaminated by cross connections of pipes with the watermain, we must never place the end of a hose where it can suck contaminants into the drinking water, leave at least a one-inch gap between the end of a hose and a source of contamination to eliminate the link between the two, and attach a hose connection vacuum breaker to threaded taps.

Outdoor noise may bring discomfort. We can minimize incoming noise by using double or triple glazed windows, ventilation openings and air conditioners should face away from streets, and the wall and ceiling plaster finishes can be textured.

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

Processes which produce contamination in the home

A.    Combustion

Fuel in a fireplace, a furnace heating systems, a water heater system, or a gas stove consume oxygen and produce water vapour as well as air contaminants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, carcinogens(benzo pyrene), etc. Unless furnaces and other combustion appliances are properly supplied with air for combustion and combustion gases are properly exhausted, then exposure to some contaminants may be hazardous.

____1.    Are combustion products immediately and effectively removed from the home by chimneys and vents?

____2.    Is there a supply of enough air to replace those gases that were removed?
____3.    Are you using a furnace other than a fuel fired furnace (gas and oil fumes cause you discomfort, headaches, nausea, or severe reactions)?
____4.    Do you change filters regularly?
____5.    Do you clean supply and return ducting regularly?
____6.    Does flue gas ducting leak fumes into the home?
____7.    Is your boiler system well maintained (these systems contain toxic glycol antifreeze or othe solutions, which can leak into the home or enter the drinking water system through faulty valves)?
____8.    Is CO in the home being well vented out (unvented combustion appliances such as oil or gas stoves, furnaces, water heaters, damage chimneys, automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke, candle flames, and open fireplaces, can all produce CO gases)?
____9.    Are all the nitrogen oxides ventilated out (sources are stoves, furnaces, water heaters, all burning fuel oils with a high sulphur content)?
____10.    Is the carbon dioxide ventilated out (sources are combustion, and people's respiration)?
____11.    Have all your fuel fired appliances been replaced by healthier appliances (fuel burning appliances consume air and create a negative pressurization leading to infiltration of contaminants)?
____12.    Are there leaks in the chimney (leaks and backdrafting would allow hazardous combustion gases to enter the home)?
____13.    Is the chimney regularly cleaned to prevent plugging and prevent combustion gases to enter the home?
____14.    Are there tight fitting fire doors on the chimney?
____15.    Is the amount of wood and/or coal burned in the fireplace kept to a strict minimum?
____16.    Do you burn only well-seasoned wood that has been dried for at least six months?
____17.    Do you first open the draft control for a few seconds before adding more wood to a fire?
____18.    Do you smoulder your fire by damping it?
____19.    Do you avoid burning home garbage of any type?
____20.    Do you burn wood when there is a lot of wind outside (wind disperse the smoke and reduces its environmental impact)?
____21.    Do you empty the ashes frequently to avoid clogging air-intake valves?
Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

B.        Outgassing (evaporation from solid materials)

The emission of chemicals such as solvents, softeners, cleaners, formaldehyde, organic chemicals, synthetic fabrics, rubber, plastics, waxes, polishes, paints, dyes, treatments; or may be by-products of reactions going on within, or at the surface of the material.

B.1        Organochlorine compounds, VOCs, Phenols, Radon gas, Toxic metals

____1.    Is the ventilation system sufficient enough to ventilate out all the emissions from organochlorine compounds (found in pesticides, solvents, cleaning fluids, paints, waxes, plastics, wood preservatives, chlorine in water)?
____2.    Is the ventilation system sufficient enough to ventilate out volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the home (sources are paints, cleaning solvents, waxes, polishes, camp stove fuel, gasoline, oil, natural gas, dry cleaning, plastics, propane, butane, artificial and natural scents)?
____3.    Is the ventilation system sufficient enough to ventilate phenols (sources are perfumes, mouthwashes, household cleaners, mildew cleaners, polishes, waxes, air fresheners, disinfectants, glues, phenolic plastics, cigarette smoke, and wood preservatives)?
____4.    Is the ventilation system sufficient enough to ventilate out radon gas (sources are soils, rock formation, groundwater, concrete used for foundations, clay bricks, gypsum board, water supplies from wells; radon gas is not usually found in Alberta)?
____5.    Is the ventilation system sufficient enough to ventilate out emissions from toxic metals (Lead, Zinc, Mercury, Cadmium, etc.) in the home (sources are: air entering the home from a busy street, plants or fruit grown near a busy roadway, water from highway runoff used for gardening, lead paint, lead from solder in wate pipes, mercury leaking from broken thermometer and fluorescent lamp tubes, zinc coated pipe exposed to heat, old refrigerator or freezer racks are cadmium plated)?

B.2        Formaldehyde

____1.    Has urea formaldehyde been removed in the spaces between the walls (the foam insulation was marketed via door to door many years ago but has been removed from most homes; fumes are toxic)?
____2.    Is there formaldehyde elsewhere in the home and is the ventilation system sufficient enough to ventilate out the fumes (sources are: the glue used to bond particle board, chip board, plywoods; many construction adhesives, carpets pads, paints, wallboards, and upholstery materials)?
Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

B.3        Fabrics, Furnishings and Finishes

____1.    Are materials such as draperies,, upholstery, carpets, bedding, clothing, synthetic fabric, free of outgassing materials or contaminants ?
____2.    Are you handling safely materials such as cotton and wool which have been treated to prevent wrinkling or staining, to change their texture and washability (often these treatments contain formaldehyde, irritating synthetic resins, dyes, etc.)?
Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

B.4        Household and Garden Products

____1.    Have materials such as paints, oils, automobile products, sealants, adhesives, polishes, waxes, cleaners, spot removers, pesticides, and soft plastics, been stored in the garage or in a storage area outside the home (they should not be stored in a room inside the home)?
____2.    Are paints, solvents, automobile products stored in cupboards or on basement shelves well vented to outside air?
____3.    Are fuels, flammable solvents stored outside the home (they are a fire hazard and, even small amounts of the fumes can make people ill)?
____4.    Have all porous or cracked foundation been properly repaired in the basement (the inside surface may become so cold that it will cause condensation of the moisture in warm room air and thus cause mold growth)?
____5.    Are the walls, ceilings, and floors well insulated over unheated crawl spaces (the inside surface may become so cold that it will cause condensation of the moisture in warm room air and thus cause mold growth)?
____6.    Have all mold problems been taking care of (mold shows up as damp spots peeling paint; problems arecaused by dampness around bathtubs, sinks, toilets, leaky pipes, and unheated storage spaces)?
____7.    Do you avoid using aerosol sprays?
Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

B.5        Asbestos

It is found in insulation materials, metal ductwork of old heating systems, wallboards and plasters, heat shields of stoves and fireplaces, shingles, vinyl floor tiles, ceiling panels, sprayed materials on fireproofing areas, pipe insulation, rolled linoleum, cement/asbestos board, taping and sealing compounds, ducts and boilers, siding on buildings, acoustical ceiling tiles, window putty, fuse boxes, heat reflectors, etc.

____1.    Is the home free of asbestos?
____2.    Do you make sure never to clean asbestos waste with a vacuum cleaner (this will spread the fibres everywhere; there are regualtions about disposing of asbestos)?
____3.    Has the building been constructed after 1979 (asbestos was used as insulation before 1979)?
Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

B.6        Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs)

PCB mixtures are lightly coloured liquids that often feel thick and oily. PCBs are insoluble in water so they tend to the bottom. Overheating PCB mixtures over 40 Celsiusmay cause irretant vapours that would be emitted to the environment. PCBs are present in electrical transformers, and used as coolant. PCBs were banned from production in 1977 as it posed a potential hazard to the environment and to health. But all transformers have been upgraded to the new standards.

____1.    Is the home free of any transformers, electrical devices or hydraulic equipment labeled as containing PCBs?
____2.    Is oil leaking from any machinery or devices free of PCBs?
____3.    Is the soil or groundwater free of PCB contamination?
____4.    Are fluorescent light ballast free of PCB?
Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

B.7        Fiberglass

Fiberglass is not currently listed as a hazardous material. However, recent studies indicate that it may constitute a human health hazard. Its presence on a property does not currently require removal or encapsulation.

____1.    Has fiberglass been removed from the property (it may have been used as an insulator)?
____2.    If fiberglass has been used on any surface, has it been completely sealed (for individual fibres exposed in this condition, it is not likely to be released into the air)?
Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5


Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

C.    Oxidation


Oxidation is a chemical change caused  by heat, light, air, electrical activity, and chemical agents. Sources of oxidation are gas ranges, building and furnishing materials, draperies and floor coverings, air cleaners, etc.

____1.    Are all combustion appliances well vented in the home?
____2.    Are all chemicals in building and furnishing materials safe and stable?
____3.    Are unstable materials prevented from the exposure to heat and sunlight?
____4.    Are gas ranges (they emit water vapor, CO, CO2, N2, and traces of other toxic gases) directly ventilated (do they rely on kitchen fans or open windows for exhaust) to the outside?
____5.    Is ozone safely ventilated out (ozone is created by electrical discharges on oxygen: kitchen appliances, sewing machines, power tools, electronic air cleaners, ion generators, photocopiers, etc.)?

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

D.   Electromagnetic Fields


In the past few years, concerns have been brought forward about the health effects of electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) from appliances, home wiring, and power lines. A substantial number of studies have been conducted on the subject, with results that we are still not sure about how these fields might affect the human body. More research is needed. We are continually exposed to different levels of EMFs. Appliances must be plugged in and operating to create a magnetic field. Exposure levels vary depending on the type of appliances a person's position in relation to the appliances. Power in wiring alternates 60 times a second and makes EMFs as well. EMF levels are higher close to their source and drop off rapidly with distance.

Electromagnetic fields are produced by electric equipment. High radio frequency levels are produced by computers, TV sets, microwave ovens, radar units and radio transmitters. The health effects of high RF levels include neurological damage, eye cataract, etc.

____1.    Is the home at least 61 meters away from high voltage lines (50,000 volts)?
____2.    Is the wiring confined to an unoccupied basement or other areas of little exposure?
____3.    Are you working in your home far enough from electric equipment?
____4.    Are bedrooms and playrooms for young children located as far as possible from any high voltage power lines near the home?
____5.    Have you chosen to increase your distance from the TV set when it is on?
____6.    Are you sitting at arm's length from your computer screen?
____7.    Do you try to use hair dryers less often (they emit high levels of EMFs)?
____8.    Are your motor-driven electric clocks, fan, telephone answering machine, in your bedroom, kept away from your bed?
____9.    Do you turn off your electric blanket (especially if you are a pregnant woman) and unplug it, before going to bed?
____10.    Do you turn off the heater of your water bed before going to bed?

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

E.   Biological Processes

Bacteria and fungi will reproduce very quickly under conditions such as:

*    R.H. levels about 60%            *    Household temperatures
*    Darkness             *    On nutrients such as wood, dust, fibres, soil, food, natural and synthetic resins

Bacteria will cause food poisoning and fungi can produce carcinogenic toxins.

Biological contaminants such as house dust (small particles and fibres shed from fabrics, soils, people, furniture, etc.), microbes, spores, airborne pollens (from grasses, shrubs, trees, flowers), fungi, molds, mites, animal dander, bacteria, viruses, etc. all are in the form of small particles which can be circulated by air movement.

____1.    Has the home been inspected and cleaned for bacteria and fungi colonies?
____2.    Is there proper drainage away from the building (termites thrive in the damp, humid environments that often exist in basements; the first line of defence against termites is therefore to ensure proper drainage), and are cracks in the foundation properly resealed with mortar or caulking (cracks provide access to insects), and is the site clear of dead or rotting wood which can provide food for a colony of hungry insects?
____3.    If you suspect or have identified termite damage (the most visible sign of termites is their mud tubes which are 6 to 12 mm wide, and which allow the termites to cross over foundation walls or stell), have you contacted your municipality (some have a termite control office; the treatment against termites involves chemical treatment of the ground around and below the house, and some treatment of interior surfaces of the home)?

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

F.    Lead

If the home has been built before 1950 and has chipping, cracking or peeling paint and the plumbing was installed before 1950, then it is very likely lead can be found in your home and must be removed. Exposure to large amounts of lead can cause serious illness or death. Exposure to very low levels of lead can effect the development of a child's brain and nervous system, impair male fertility and increase the chances of complications during pregnancy.

Federal and provincial laws now limit the amount of lead in commercial products and establish limits on the amount of lead in water, soil, gasoline, paints, lead solders, and canned food.

Sources of lead exposure in and around the home can be flakes or dust from old paint containing lead, contaminated soil and water pipes. Paint chips might be swallowed by young children. In 1976, federal government regulations imposed a limit of 0.5 percent by weight. The Canadian guidelines for drinking water quality specify that the lead level in drinking water must be below 10 parts per billion.

if your home was built before 1979, the interior or exterior paint may contain small amounts of lead. Most paint manufacturers have stopped using lead altogether after the regulations were passed. If the old lead-containing paint is deteriorating you must call a pollutant specialist who will do of three things: encapsulation, replacement or removal. If your soil is contaminated, you must arrange to have a soil specialist to have it analyzed. Contaminated soil can be removed or covered depending onnthe lead level.

Your municipally treated drinking water may pick up lead from plumbing system serving homes. If there is lead in plumbing, it may also get into the drinking water. There may be lead in piping of the water delivery system to your home.

____1.    If your home has been built before 1950, have you has a lead specialist to inspect the lead content of your home?
____2.    Do you keep play areas dust-free and make sure children wash their hands regularly?
____3.    Do you remove outdoor shoes at the door or put a mat at the entrance (clean it often)?
____4.    Do you vacuum your home regularly, especially carpets which can trap dust?
____5.    Do you change work clothes and shower after working around lead on the job or work place at home (wash clothes separately from the family laundry)?
____6.    Do you damp-clean floors and other hard surfaces?
____7.    Do you practice special care with hobby materials that contain lead?
____8.    Do you keep gardens and play areas away from sources of lead?
____9.    Have you grown grass on a contaminated area to reduce the amount of dirt picked up and brought into  your home?
____10.    If you suspect that your drinking water has lead in it, do you reduce your lead intake by letting the water run for a few minutes until it runs as cold as possible (hot water picks up more lead than cold water, so it is best not to use water from the hot tap for drinking and cooking)?
____11.    Do you make sure not to serve food in ceramic pottery decorated with lead-based glazes (pottery sold in Canada is usually safe)?
____12.    Do you make sure not to store alcoholic beverages in lead crystal for long periods of time (they may contain high level of lead)?
____13.    Do you make sure ot to burn painted or treated wood with coloured inks in the fireplace or woodstove (they may contain lead or other chemicals and burning them will release lead fumes)?

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

G.    Pollutants in building materials


Construction materials are very often the cause of pollution and health problems in a home.

In this sub-section building materials have been classified as A, B and/or C, depending on the grade of contamination they may produce.

The following scoring method is used:

A    =    4 or 5,            B    =    2 or 3,                C    =    0 or 1. If it is does not apply to your home it must be left out and the total number of questions is reduced by one.

A materials (4,5)

Generally stable; will not deteriorate; not expected to produce indoor contamination; safe, except for those very sensitive individuals and those suffering from environmental illness.

B materials (2,3)

Potentially hazardous contaminants; may be unacceptable to very sensitive individuals; they should be self-tested.

C materials (0,1)

Linked with serious contamination and health problems. Should be avoided.

Question to answer in relation to the table:

What pollutants in the following list of building materials are found in the home?

Circle the respective asterisk to indicate the pollutant material found. Indicate a number from 0 to 5 on the space before the number in the first column. Your number value is your assessment as to how important and serious is the problem. A value of zero is very serious. A value of five tells you that the material is fine (see definition above).

____1.Concrete, reinforced concrete
  Concrete additives may contain formaldehyde, petroleum oils, , and detergents
____2.Glazed brick, concrete block, and stone
Masonry foundations are more permeable to moisture and radon than concrete 
____3.Cement based sealants
Acrylic additive should be used only if individual testing shows it to be acceptable
____4.Lightweigth steel
Painted finishes should be self-tested for acceptability
 ____5.Metal siding
    Stucco mixes may contain acrylic additives and be placed on polyestyrene foam and then outgassed contamination from these products can enter through doors, windows and cracks. 
 ____6.Succo on metal lath
____7.Untreated building paper and Kraft paper 
 ____8.Steel (galvanized, painted)
 ____10.Cement, clay or metal tile
 ____11.Aluminum foil and paper backed foil
 ____12.Plain plaster on metal lath & plain plaster on gypsum lath
Additives and colorant cancontaminate. 
 ____13.Solid hard wood paneling maple, birch, alder, poplar, etc.
 ____14.Porcelain steel
Gasket systems may produce contaminants and offensive odors. 
 ____15.White & yellow glues (water washable)
Acceptable in small amounts.
 ____16.Hide glue (animal product)
 ____17.Wall paper glue
Some varieties contain unacceptable contaminants pesticides and fungus retardants (borax can be added to reduce mildew growth) 
 ____18.Ceramic title thin set mortar adhesive
The acrylic additive sold with it should not be used. 
 ____19.Clear silicone (without additives)
 ____20.Linseed oil putty and caulking
 ____21.Felt strip, metal bound
 ____22.Hard vinyl strip
 ____23.Casein paints
 ____24.Special hypoallergenic paints
Add borax as a mildew retardant. 
Acceptable but not durable. 
 ____26.Natural walnut/olive oil
 ____27.Wall tile grout
 ____28.Solid hardwood plank(maple,oak,beech,ash)
Urethane varnish, oil type or epoxy finishes are often not acceptable (Walnut oil best for the sensitive). 
 ____29.Wood parquet, wire bound
May contain wood preservative. 
 ____30.Area rugs, untreated natural fibers
Some may contain unacceptable chemical treatment. 
 ____31.Area rugs, acetate or rayon fiber
 ____32.Metal frame and doors
 ____33.Natural fibres (untreated cotton, wool, jute, silk)
 ____34.Metal springs
Metal spring construtions are often padded with urethane foam or other plastic resin foam, which are acceptable. 
 ____35.Cotton 'barrier' cloth
 ____36.Untreated natural fiber fabric (cotton, wool, silk, linen)
 ____38.Copper pipe (mechanical) joints, such as 'flared type'
Contain lead. 
 ____39.Brass pipe and iron pipe
 ____40.Stainless steel
 ____41.Enamelled steel/cast iron
Gasket systems may produce contamination and offensive odors. 
 ____42.Steel conduit (EMT or rigid type)
 ____43.Metallic sheated cable
 ____44.Compact fluorescents
 ____45.Sheet metal heating and ventilation ducting
Fiberglass ducts and fibrous duct liners contaminate air with gases and fibers. 
 ____46.A 5% silicone water repellent
____47.Asphalt emulsion (for exterior use underground) 
 ____48.Soft wood lumber
Often contains preservatives and tree resins are potentially irritants. 
 ____49.Wood siding (cedar, redwood, and pine are acceptable)
Preserved wood siding may contain PCP, mercury or arsenic. 
 ____50.Exterior plywoods
Large amounts produce formaldehyde. 
 ____51.Wood shingles
Preservatives and fire retardants may be unacceptable. 
 ____52.Foamed cement
Some foaming agents may produce contaminants. 
 ____53.Glass fiber batts and mineral fiber
Fiber shedding and formaldehyde produce contaminant 
 ____54.Expanded mineral slags (vermiculite)
Produce fine dust which can enter home. 
 ____55.Polyethylene sheet
May contain large number of chemical additives. 
 ____56.Vapor retardant paint
 ____57.Gypsum board, taped and filled
Many unacceptable chemicals may be present in small amounts. 
 ____58.Solid softwood panelling
Contain tree resins, objectionable to some.
 ____59.Brick veneer
Adhesives other than plain mortar can cause air contamination. 
 ____60.Exposure #1 particle board
Produce some formaldehyde. 
 ____61.Solid plastic
They should be tested when warm. 
 ____62.Ceramic wall tile adhesive (solvent-based)
Contain toluene, benzene, naphta, and other dangerous solvents. 
 ____63.Floor tile adhesives
 ____64.Contact cement (solvent or latex based)
Very dangerous. 
 ____65.Silicone tub caulk
Contain mildew retardants which are unacceptable to some people. 
 ____66.Acoustic sealant
 ____67.Acrylic sealant
 ____68.Soft plastic strip (vinyl or other)
 ____69.Foamed plastic strip (white polyurethane or others)
 ____70.Baked enamels
Problematic when large amounts. 
 ____71.Mineral oil
____72.Natural shellac 
 ____73.Lacquer paints/wood sealers
Contain very volatile and toxic solvents. 
 ____74.Alkyd/linseed oil paint
 ____75.Paste waxes
 ____76.Bees wax
 ____77.Urethane varnish
Should be avoided on large surfaces. 
 ____78.Latex paint
Must be self-tested, because of the additives such as mildew retardants. 
 ____79.Acceptable wallpaper and foil wallpaer
 ____80.Synthetic carpets (nylon, polypropylene)
Sources of contaminant gases such as formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, and benzene. 
 ____81.Hard vinyl composition tile
Should be self-tested. 
 ____82.Carpet pad
These may be allergenic and collect dust. 
 ____83.Acetate, rayon
With treatment may be unacceptable. 
 ____84.Natural leathers
Tauning odors may contain hazardous formaldehydes. 
 ____85.Wicker, reeds, grasses
May contain unacceptable fungicide, resins or varnishes. 
 ____86.Paper products
Contribute to mold and dust allergy. 
 ____87.Hard nylon
 ____88.Galvanized steel pipe
Chemical reaction with chlorine and minerals when contact with water. 
 ____89.A.B.S. pipe
Contains acrylonitrile, vinylethilene, and styrene, which contaminate indoor air when heated. 
 ____90.Vinyl and nylon jucketed cable and mineral (asphalt jacketed cable)
Contain vinyl, petroleum lar, and other air contaminants. 
 ____91.Conventional fluorescent fixtures
Contain plastic parts, which will outgas. 
 ____92.Electronic air filters
If poorly maintained can produce ozone and release trapped dust into air. 
 ____93.Bulbs enclosed in glass shades (incandescent type)
 ____94.Treated wood foundations
Contain preservatives, which can introduce a large number of chemical offenders. 
 ____95.Laminated lumber
Formaldehyde-based glues produce contamination. 
 ____96.Chipboard (waferboard sheating)
Contains large amounts of formaldehyde based glues. 
 ____97.Vinyl siding
Releases contaminating gases such as vinyl chloride and reasticizers. 
 ____98.Asphalt shingles/sheating paper treated fiberboard
Releases contaminated petroleum fumes when heated. 
 ____99.Tar and gravel
Same as asphalt. 

____100.Urea formaldehyde foam
Very potent source of formaldehyde now banned for use in homes.
____101.Plastic or rubber membranes
Same as asphalt.
____102.Cellulose fiber
Contain contaminating fire retardants and produce fine dust.
____103.Plastic resin foams (styrene, polyurethane, etc.)
May be acceptable only when buried as outside basement insulation.
____104.Caulked systems (caulked polyethilene sheet, caulked drywall, etc.)
Contain large amount of contaminating sealants.
____105.Interior plywood
Glues are potent sources of formaldehyde; can be 20 times more contaminating than exterior plywood.
____106.Prefinished interior
Contain objectionable plastic.
____107.Particle board based materials
Potent source of formaldehyde.
____108.Carpet adhesives
Large amounts on surfaces will outgass over long periods.
____109.Construction adhesives
Same as carpet adhesives.
____110.Urea-based glues and plastic resing glues
Potent source of formaldehyde.
Particularly hazardous; should be avoided.
____112.Acoustic sealant
Petroleum based, but not acceptable to some.
____113.Neoprene rubber strip
Unacceptable due to lingering odors, and contains chlorinated hydrocarbons.
____114.Furniture polish and danish oil finish
Contain oils and solvents.
____115.Liquid floor wax
Acrylic based makes it unacceptable.
____116. Epoxy paint/varnishes
Produce large amount of contaminants.
____117.Vinyl wallpaper and selfstick wallpaper
____118.Soft vinyl, self-adhesive tile
Petroleum products.
____119.Simulated wood flooring
Potent source of formaldehyde.
____120.Interior grade plywood, hardwood veneered, 'cabinet stock' and standard particle board
Large amount of formaldehyde.
____121.Vinyl 'imitation wood' panels
____122.Animal products (feathers, down, hair, etc.)
Allergenic materials.
____123.Polyurethane foams, styrene foam chips, foamed rubber
All potent sources of contamination.
____124.Nylon and polyester fibers
Plastic resins may be irritating to skin.
____125.Vinyl fabric, imitation leather
Contaminant when exposed to sun and heat.
____126.PVC, plastics, ABS plastics polyester resin (fiberglass products, clear plastic castings), acrylic resin (flexiglass, 'lucite')
Chemical toxics or carcinogenic to humans, irritating sensitive people even in minute quantities.
____127.Polybutylene tubing
Their chemical properties are not well tested; should be avoided.
____128.Cultured marble
Outgass and contaminate air and water.
____129.Exposed light bulbs (incandescent type)
Likely to fry dust and aggravate allergy problems.

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

H.   Major contaminants in the home and their sources

The following assessment is about major contaminants in homes. To assess contaminants the following scoring method is used:

if senses detect the presence of a contaminant listed here or if the residents of the home agree that a contaminant is observed or has been used in the home, then the score is zero;

if the contaminant is not observed in the home then the score is five.

YES    =    0,            NO    =    5.

____1.    Ammonia        Household ammonia, window cleaners, cleaners, glue, paint.
____2.    Asbestos        Street dust, old plaster, ceiling tile, wallboard, floor tile, heating ducts, insulation.
____3.    Carbon Dioxide    Poor ventilation, fuel burning stoves and heaters, faulty chimneys, respiration.
____4.    Carbon Monoxide    Auto exhaust, open flame, fuel burning stoves and heaters, faulty chimneys, natural oxidation of household chemicals.
____5.    Chlorine and Organochlorines    Bleach, scouring powder, pesticides, chlorinated water, plastics and rubber.
____6.    Dust    Pollens, soil, auto exhaust, industrial emissions, pets, construction, smoking cooking, fires, carpets, fabrics, building materials.
____7.    Formaldehyde    Incinerators, auto exhaust, industrial emissions, insulation, glue, carpet, fabric treatments, paints, waxes, polishes, insecticides, paper treatments, plastics, wood treatments, concrete and plaster additives, wallboard, toothpaste, mouthwash, germicides, cosmetics.
____8.    Fungus    Yard and garden, dampness in bathrooms and basements, walls, ceilings and floors, mildew in bedding, carpets, fabrics and clothing, refrigerators, spoiled food, humidifiers.
____9.    Gas(natural gas, propane, butane)    Heating and cooking fuel, campstoves, lanterns, lighters, hairspray.
____10.    Lead    Auto exhaust, industrial emission, water pipes, old paint.
____11.    Mercury    Industrial emission, paints, contaminated water.
____12.    Phenols    Desinfectants, cleaners, glues, mildew cleaner, plastics, wood preservatives, waxes and polishers, air fresheners.
____13.    Nitrogen Oxides    Auto exhaust, industrial emissions, fuel burning stoves and heaters, faulty chimneys, cooking.
____14.    Other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)   
                Alcohols:    Shellac, inks, cleaners, desinfectants, rubber and plastics, cosmetics, medications, food flavorings, liquour.
                Refrigerants:    Gasoline, diesel. motor oils, household oils, aerosol sprays, air conditioners, refrigerators, heat pumps.
                Solvents:    Paints, varnishes, cleaners, glues, waxes, polishes, drycleaning fluid.
                Wood Resins:    Plant turpentine from softwoods (pine, fir, spruce, cedar, cypress, hemlock, cones, needles or pitch)
                Scents:    Perfumed soaps and cleaners, plants and flowers, artificial flavorings.
                Fuels and Lubricants
____15.    Ozone    Urban air pollution, electronic air cleaners and ionizers, electric motors, photocopiers.
____16.    Radon    Soil, rock, deep well water, concrete, stone, brick, gypsum board.
____17.    Sulphur Dioxide    Industrial emissions, fuel oil and coal burning.

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

I.   Hazards in our homes

The following assessment is about potential hazard sources in homes. To assess the presence or absence of these hazards we apply the following scoring method:

if the hazard is observed in your home then          YES    =    0,

if the hazard does not apply or is not observed then        NO    =    5.

Or you may also give any suitable value in between 0 and 5.

____1.    Formaldehyde (HCHO)    It belongs to a group of simple hydrocarbons very widely used in manufacturing today. It is probablythe most widely known indoor air contaminant, particularly because the disaster over the widespread use of urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) eg. mid. 1970's. As a result, there are a number of health problems.
            Health hazards:    Formaldehyde is a potent irritant, which affects the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and may also cause skin reactions. Exposure has also been shown to cause headaches, depression, dizziness and loss of sleep in cases of chronic exposure such as UFFI insulated homes. Formaldehyde also aggravates coughs and colds and trigger a number of other, more serious illness such as asthma. According to a recent study one of every five persons is sensitive to exposure. It is also connected to certain cancer increasing risks.

____2.    Organochlorines    Chemical combinations of organic chemicals, hydrogen and carbon. Many pesticides are organochlorines. They are usually the most toxic compounds in this family as well as the most persistent in the environment and human and animal tissues. Many liquid solvents are organochlorines compounds. They are found in cleaning fluids, and some paints, waxes, and plastics. PVC, a potent carcinogenic which can easily enter air or water. PCB's is also in this family. They are found in electrical equipment and some plastics. Organochlorines are also formed when the chlorine in treated water combines with naturally occurring organic compounds. As a result the production of toxic gases, such as chloroform and chloramine.
            Health hazards:    Virtually all organochlorines are toxic, and some, such as pesticides, are highly toxic and carcinogenic; others such as cleaning solvents, accumulate and seriously damage such organs as the liver and kidney. Most are soluble in the body's fatty tissues, where they collect and are later released into the bloodstream with toxic result. PVC and PCB combine directly with our genetic material, causing cancer. Other organochlorines, such as the chloroform gas produced by chlorine in water, are serious respiratory irritants, and are toxic to body cells.

____3.    Volatile Organic Compounds    This very large family of chemicals includes all the organic compounds (containing hydrogen and carbon) which readily evaporate and cause air pollution. Though at room temperature most are liquids, they will readily enter air, especially when heated many are also found contaminating water, and they are used as additives to solids, such as plastics. Many volatile organics are extracted directly from petroleum oil and gas; others such as alcohols are produced sysnthetically by chemical methods. Most are used as solvents. They are usually intoxicants or asphyxiants (causing soffocation), and some are toxic to brain cells, they may also be explosive. All are potential hazards to sensitive persons. This family includes alkanes, alkenes, naphthas, benzenes, toluene, xylene, ethers, mineral spirits, alcohols (methyl and ethyl compounds); ketones, aldehydes, propane, butane, polymers, and monomers.
            Health hazards:    Most are asphyxiants. They may cause dizziness, disorientation, or death, in large doses. Some are depressants, acting on the central nervous system and causing fatigue and muscle weakness. Most are also skin and lung irritants. Some are carcinogenic or cause kidney or liver damage. Because most are soluble in fatty tissue, they are readily absorbed, and in some cases stored in our bodies.

____4.    Phenols (C6H5OH)    Phenols are organic compounds derived from coal tar or petroleum, and are used extensively in household products. The phenols include biphenyl, phenolics, and pentachlorophenol (P,C.P.). Pure phenol (known as carbolic acid) is a potent desinfectant and antiseptic. It is widely used in hospitals and homes. It is a serious incitant to many sensitive individuals. Phenol is also used in synthesis of plastic resins and wood preservatives, and is present in tobacco smoke.
             Health hazards:    Phenol and phenol compounds are highly sensitizing to skin and are suspected to be carcinogenic. Severe reactions in sensitive individuals are dangerous and can be life threatening.

____5.    Radon (RN22)    Radon is colorless, odorless gas that is a serious threat to health in some regions of the world. It is produced in certain geologic zones by the radioactive decay of naturally occurring radium. Tough radon is actually relatively harmless in itself, it is the medium by which soil radioactivity enters the home. Once inside, radon decays into other radioactive products, the most hazardous beig the polonium isotopes. These particles easily attach themselves to dust particles which are inhaled and lodged in the bronchial tubes and lungs. Once there, the isotopes release minute but very focused  doses of dangerous alpha radiation into the tissues.
            Health hazards:    Radiation released within the body will strike glues, which may then cause the kind of genetic mutations that eventually lead to cancer. Cancer risk is usually expressed in statistical terms, and radiation exposure of this type increases the risk of developing lung or throat cancer in our lifetime. Other factors, such as smoking, will further increase this risk.

____6.    Carbon Monoxide (MO)    Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous, colorless, odorless gas not normally found in significant quantities in the air around us. It is produced by incomplete combustion, such as in poorly adjusted gas flames and automobile engines. It is easily absorbed by the bloodstream and rapidly interferes with normal breathing.
            Health hazards:     Carbon monoxide combines with blood hemoglobin, reducing the body's capacity to absorb oxygen. In very small concentrations it may cause intoxication and headache; in larger doses it will cause asphyxiation and death. Exposure to dangerous levels may cause long term neurological damage. Increased levels are particularly dangerous to people with heart and lung disorders, and with circulation problems.

____7.    Nitrogen Oxides (NO, NO2)    Oxides of Nitrogen are strong smelling, highly irritating, and toxic gases. They are responsible in part for the brown haze found in urban gases. They are by-products of combustion and the action of sunlight on polluted air.
             Health hazards:    Oxides of Nitrogen are highly irritating to mucous and lung tissues, and the corrosive product produced when nitrogen (NO2) comes into contact with moist lung and bronchial membrane will cause tissue damage. With prolonged exposure lung function will be impaired. This kind of damage is seen in lung  diseases such as emphysema in smokers, and in people with high exposure in the workplace. NO2 exposure also causes depression of the white blood cells, reducing immunity to disease.

____8.    Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)    Sulphur dioxide is a colorless gas with a sharp odor not normally found in significant amounts in 'natural air.' It is formed by the oxidation of the sulphur contained in various fuels when they are burned. Sulphur dioxide from coal burning plants and other industrial processes forms a caustic acid combined with water. This is a major contributor to acid rain.
                Health hazards: The acid irritant formed when sulphur dioxide comes into contact with bronchial and lung tissues leads to increased minor respiratory illnesses, such as colds with coughs and bronchitis.

____9.    Ozone (O3)    Ozone is a colorless, unstable gas with a pungent odor usually associated with electrical equipment. Ozone decays rapidly into harmless oxygen, but it can be very irritating even in minute concentrations, particularly to people with respiratory problems.
                Health hazards:     Ozone is a respiratory irritant which causes temporary damage to mucous membranes and ling tissue. Ozone exposure also affects visual performance and judgement. It is particularly hazardous to people suffering from asthma, hay fever, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses.

____10.    Carbon Dioxide (CO2)    Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas, normally present in air in only small quantities. Because it is heavier than other gases and does not mix easily, it tends to accumulate in enclosure areas and near the floor.
                Health hazards:    Carbon dioxide is a central nervous system depressant which slown responses and reduces alertness. It also stimulates the urge to breathe. At above normal concentrations it causes discomfort and drowsiness; at very high levels it will cause death by suffocation. The effects of exposure to elevated levels of this gas are believed to be temporary under most circumstances.

____11.    Asbestos    Asbestos is a mineral fiber mined from the earth. It is very fire resistant, workable, and inexpensive to produce. Until recently, large amounts of abestos were used in building materials and fire resistant coatings, and even in some clothing. Now asbestos has been recognized as a serious threat to the health of those exposed to it in large amounts, or over long periods of time, and its use in consumer products has been severely restricted. Asbestos is the only natural fiber that has been linked with cancer.
            Health hazards:    Asbestos fibers freed from asbestos-containing products by wear or disturbance will enter the air. Particles that are small enough will be carried by air currents and will enter the throat and lungs. Once lodged there, they will stay and cause long term irritation and tissue damage. Over long periods of time, such accumulated asbestos is likely to cause asbestosis, a serious lung desease, and can lead to lung cancer or mesothelioma, a particular form of chest cancer.

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5


Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

Section 2.4.4   Assesment Scoring

Section Assessment Scoring
Management of Pollutants in the Home

I(normalized) =  0.210

In this assessment, the values used for I(normalized) are the same as those obtained and described in section 2.3 The Mathematical Model. The two tables in The Scale of Values obtained from the survey, guess-estimated and standard give all normalized values in their last columns. Although most values were not given here, they were obtained a few years ago by evaluating each impact as shown in section 2.3 under Impact equation example: Forestry. It is obvious now that one has to keep updating these impact equation calculations every year as the world is changing very fast. Their calculations are a very powerful educational tool and should be used in school to educate students in thinking globally and in terms of interactions and their multidimensional effects within themselves and on all four major interacting quality systems. To become responsible in sustaining Earth has to start at early stage in someone's life and calculating impact equations would be one of their first steps.
  Processes which produce contamination in the home

A.    Combustion

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

B.     Outgassing (evaporation from solid materials)

B.1   Organochlorine compounds, VOCs, Phenols, Radon gas, Toxic metals
B.2    Formaldehyde
B.3    Fabrics, Furnishings and Finishes
B.4   Household and GardenProducts
B.5    Asbestos
B.6    Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs)
B.7    Fiberglass

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

C.    Oxidation

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

D.   Electromagnetic Fields

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

E.   Biological Processes

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

F.    Lead

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

G.    Pollutants in building materials

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

H.   Major contaminants in the home and their sources

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                           Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

I.   Hazards in our homes

Sub-section %    =    Total number of points for the subsection     x     100%
                              Total number of questions for the sub-section               5

Section Rating        =        Sub-section % total        x        0.210

                                     =       GESDI     for this section

This value of GESDI is then added to the values in the other sections of this assessment report. The total value for GESDI is the GESDI for the home and the community it belongs to.

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page

Back to Index of Report on GESDI measurement
Back to Preliminary Program
Back to top of the page