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Current State of the Science: Health Effects and Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Clifford S. Mitchell
  • Junfeng (Jim) Zhang
  • Torben Sigsgaard
  • Matti Jantunen
  • Paul J. Lioy
  • Robert Samson
  • Meryl H. Karol
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Publication Date
Jan 25, 2007
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Design
  • Medicine


Our understanding of the relationship between human health and the indoor environment continues to evolve. Previous research on health and indoor environments has tended to concentrate on discrete pollutant sources and exposures and on specific disease processes. Recently, efforts have been made to characterize more fully the complex interactions between the health of occupants and the interior spaces they inhabit. In this article we review recent advances in source characterization, exposure assessment, health effects associated with indoor exposures, and intervention research related to indoor environments. Advances in source characterization include a better understanding of how chemicals are transported and processed within spaces and the role that other factors such as lighting and building design may play in determining health. Efforts are under way to improve our ability to measure exposures, but this remains a challenge, particularly for biological agents. Researchers are also examining the effects of multiple exposures as well as the effects of exposures on vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. In addition, a number of investigators are also studying the effects of modifying building design, materials, and operations on occupant health. Identification of research priorities should include input from building designers, operators, and the public health community.

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