Sierra Club Conservation Policies
Indoor Air Pollution
Exposure to indoor air pollutants (such as carcinogens, combustion products, irritants,
and environmental tobacco smoke ETS), contributes significantly to an individual's total
pollutant exposure and is a major source of health problems and preventable deaths. As
part of the continuing effort to improve overall air quality, the Sierra Club supports
programs of regulation and incentives, education, and research to control indoor air
pollution and to reduce the incidence of tobacco addiction, the fundamental source of ETS.
1. New regulatory and incentive programs are needed to:
a. Prohibit tobacco smoking in all indoor public places including workplaces and public
b. Reduce the incidence of tobacco addiction by reducing the availability of tobacco
products to children and by eliminating tobacco advertising;
c. Require right-to-know labeling for all household products and building materials;
d. Study and develop building codes and building operation and maintenance standards
that include adequate air exchange with minimum sacrifice of energy conservation
objectives and minimum penetration of polluted outdoor air.
2. The United States Environmental Protection Agency should be designated as the lead
agency for the coordination of an indoor air pollution education and research program. The
Centers for Disease Control should be the lead agency for management of education and
research programs to eliminate public exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The
Department of Energy should be the lead agency for conducting research on effective
ventilation based on sound energy conservation practices.
a. Educational programs should be conducted on the health hazards from consumer
products, radon exposure hazards, and combustion appliance use.
b. A comprehensive, appropriately-funded research program should be implemented to
determine the effects of indoor air pollution on human health, well-being, and
c. A comprehensive, quantitative assessment of the risks posed by ETS in the form of
lung cancer, cancers other than the lung, other lung disorders, and heart disease should
be prepared and publicized.
d. EPA should help fund state and local indoor air pollution monitoring programs to
respond to citizen concerns.
3. Federal legislation should not preempt the right of states, and state legislation
should not preempt the right of localities, to enact stronger controls consistent with
Adopted by the Board of Directors, February 6-7, 1993
Guidelines On Indoor Air Pollution
These guidelines were developed by the Sierra Club Air Quality Committee to help
interpret and implement the policy.
The following outlines key issues for consideration in an indoor air pollution
management program. The material is provided as an assistance to Sierra Club groups,
chapters, RCCs, and staff as they work on indoor air pollution issues and legislation.
A. Regulation and Incentives
Effective government regulatory and incentive programs are an integral part of a
comprehensive indoor air pollution prevention and control program.
1. Lead Enforcement Agency
Designate the EPA as the lead agency for the management of an indoor air pollution
research, education, and control program. Provide adequate funding for an effective
program. Require the EPA to coordinate with other federal agencies, including the
Department of Energy, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Health and Human
Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Institutes of Health, and Department of
Housing and Urban Development.
2. Product Labeling/Use Restriction
Enact comprehensive right-to-know legislation that mandates a system of labeling of
household furnishings (furniture, carpets, drapes, etc.) and home products, combustion
appliances, office supplies, art and hobby supplies, and building materials to warn
consumers of the potential health effects from their improper use. In some cases, such as
with aerosol sprays and methylene-chloride-containing products, consumer use should be
3. Accidental Fire
Enact regulations requiring notification to consumers, workers, and local fire
departments concerning the types of toxic fumes that could be emitted from products or
building materials in the event of fire. Product labeling must include instructions for
protection from such fumes.
4. Building Codes
Conduct research and cooperate with state, local, and federal building code entities to
a. use of construction materials and designs that do not produce hazardous emissions,
b. installation of ventilation technology that meets at least the minimum American
Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers standards.
The ventilation technology chosen must include effective air exchange systems to allow
for frequent exchange of indoor and outdoor air with minimum sacrifice of energy
conservation objectives and minimum indoor penetration of polluted outdoor air.
5. Lead Removal
Develop and implement a certification program for lead removal contractors.
6. Building Operation and Maintenance Standards
Establish standards for building operation and maintenance that will protect the
quality of indoor air for federal and state buildings, and all government subsidized
buildings and homes.
7. Smoke-Free Public Places
Enact non-preemptive state and local clean indoor air acts prohibiting tobacco smoking
in all indoor public places. Enact federal regulations prohibiting smoking in indoor
public places where state and local law does not apply:
a. on all interstate trains and buses;
b. on all commercial airline flights, both domestic and international;
c. in the workplaces of, and in the public areas in, buildings owned or operated by
agencies of the federal government.
8. Reduction of the Availability and Appeal of Tobacco Products to Children
a. Repeal the federal preemption of state regulation of tobacco advertising and
promotion to enable state and local regulation.
b. Eliminate tobacco industry sponsorship of sporting events.
c. Eliminate the advertising of tobacco products on billboards, on public
transportation, and in other public places.
d. Require the licensing of the sale of cigarettes in the same strict fashion as
e. Increase federal and state excise taxes to make cigarettes less accessible.
f. Eliminate the distribution of tobacco products for commercial purposes at less than
the basic cost of such products to members of the public in public places and at public
g. Eliminate the distribution of tobacco products through vending machines in public
h. Eliminate marketing practices that promote tobacco use among children.
i. Make the penalties for selling tobacco products to minors as severe as those for
selling alcohol to minors.
j. Raise the age required to buy, posses, and use tobacco to 21.
k. Eliminate federal tobacco price support system.
9. Indoor Air Monitoring
Citizens need an agency to turn to when they feel that their home or office has a
contamination problem. Local and State programs can best respond to these concerns with
mobile monitoring equipment. EPA should take a major role in funding this response effort.
Education of the general public as well as such key individuals as teachers, office
workers, members of the building industry, health professionals, government officials,
labor union leaders, and the media is an important element of a program to reduce indoor
air pollution because personal behavior as well as public regulation is involved.
Education needs to be aimed at:
1. Health Hazards from Products
The use, or improper use, of certain building materials, construction and maintenance
supplies, pesticides, home and office products, furnishings, appliances, art, and
photography, hobby and science materials can produce dangerous indoor air pollution.
Instruction in the correct use and maintenance of products, substitution of non-polluting
products, and recommended levels and frequency of ventilation can reduce indoor air
2. Radon Exposure Hazards
Establish programs to educate home builders and dwellers to:
a. potential risks of radon and the use of materials and supplies that contribute to
this source of air pollution, and
b. available techniques for reducing radon levels in buildings through radon-proofing
techniques, ventilation, and the substitution of alternative building materials and
3. Combustion Appliance Use
Safe installation, ventilation, maintenance, and use of space heating, water heating,
and cooking appliances is vital for protecting indoor air quality. Wood stoves, kerosene
heaters, coal heaters, and natural gas water and space heaters are of special concern.
4. The Hazards of Tobacco Addition
a. Educate children at a young enough age to help them avoid becoming addicted to
tobacco before they understand its hazards.
b. Established counter-advertising campaigns funded where necessary by dedicated
increases in cigarette excise taxes.
c. Further educate the public by encouraging hospitals, universities, investment funds,
insurance companies, municipal pension funds and other entities to divest themselves of
tobacco company holdings.
5. Pesticide Use
Educate the public about the hazard of pesticide use in and around homes and the
resulting indoor air pollution.
Research is needed to further define the extent and the nature of indoor air pollution
and to develop effective pollution elimination and control programs. This research should
be funded and supervised by an appropriate federal agency, preferably the EPA, and
augmented by state and private efforts. Research should be directed towards:
1. Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Identifying the magnitude as well as the major sources of indoor air pollution,
including but not limited to air pollution from building construction materials, building
design, building maintenance, pesticide use, activities and products used within homes,
offices, schools, and public places, and the indoor penetration of polluted outdoor air.
2. Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
Identify key health problems, including but not limited to chemical hypersensitivity.
(Health surveys of individuals not previously exposed to modern building materials,
furnishings and products that product hazardous vapors and particles would provide useful
3. Radon Pollution Control
a. Identify those regions of the country with elevated levels of naturally occurring
radon in soil, rocks, and water.
b. Develop methods for predicting which sites and building designs will lead to
excessive radon levels inside a building.
c. Develop technology to retrofit current buildings to reduce/eliminate radon problems.
4. Pollution Control Consistent with Energy Conservation
Determine what level and frequency of ventilation and pollution source reduction is
adequate to rid buildings of unsafe levels of air pollutants without sacrificing energy
conservation objectives and with minimal indoor penetration of polluted outdoor air.
5. Assessment of the Risks of ETS Exposure
Quantitatively assess the death and disease caused by ETS, including lung cancer, other
forms of cancer, other lung disorders, and heart disease. Publicize this assessment and
periodically refine it as new data become available.