Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality, or IAQ, is an important issue in office buildings, schools, and homes because people spend at least 90% of their time indoors where pollutant levels are often higher than outdoors.

US EPA has consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health.

Children, the elderly, and those in poor health are most at risk for the effects of indoor air quality problems. These groups also spend most of their time indoors.


Mold is a member of the Fungi kingdom. Unlike plants, fungi lack chlorophyll and must rely on the digestion of plants and other organic matter for nourishment. Fungi play an important role in the ecosystem by breaking down and consuming dead organic matter.

Mold is everywhere in the environment, indoors and outdoors. Outdoor mold concentrations are considered to be normal, background mold levels. Mold can be a problem when environmental conditions cause it to grow at a high rate indoors.
Mold growth requires: moisture, food, and oxygen.

Building materials including wood, paper, carpet, insulation, and drywall are food sources for mold.

Moisture control is the key to mold control. Introduce water and you have all of the right conditions for mold to grow indoors. If mold is a problem indoors, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles & carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced. More information and EPA guidance is available at:


Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The EPA recommends that all homes be tested for radon. There are simple easy to use test kits available at local hardware stores and on the internet. If you decide to do the test yourself, make sure the kit you buy states “meets EPA requirements.”

Second Hand Smoke

According to EPA, secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths in non smokers each year in the U.S. Exposure to secondhand smoke has also been found to increase the risk of heart disease. Developing children exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk of developing ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and more severe asthma attacks.

Take the smoke free home pledge today!

Adopting a smoke-free workplace will encourage employees to quit smoking, thereby not only greatly reducing their chances of suffering from a smoking-related illness in the future, but also reducing the chances their nonsmoking coworkers will suffer from illnesses related to secondhand smoke. Eliminating secondhand smoke from the workplace and decreasing smoking by employees can reduce health care costs and increase years of productive life. These two factors alone will positively affect your company's bottom line and help your employees’ live full and productive lives!

For more information, and an excellent website for helping North Carolina businesses achieve smoke free status, please see:

Carbon Monoxide

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 170 people in the United States die every year from CO produced by non-automotive consumer products.


Asthma is the most common long-term childhood disease and the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness.

Healthy Buildings, Healthy People

EPA Report: Healthy Buildings, Healthy People, 2001: A vision for indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in the 21st Century. The objective of the report is to "Realize major human health gains" over the next 50 years by improving indoor environmental quality.

Indoor Air Cleaning

Avoiding and removing sources of indoor air pollution is the most effective way to prevent poor indoor air quality. Air cleaners can help, but they can only do so much.

Should you have the air ducts in your home cleaned?

Landlord Tenant Problems Related to Indoor Air Quality and Mold

Landlords are required to maintain rental property in good and safe working order, in compliance with local building codes.

Most mold problems are due to water intrusion or high humidity resulting from inadequate ventilation. Mold itself may not be a code violation, but many causes of water damage that lead to mold may be code violations. Tenants are encouraged to send the landlord a letter regarding problems with their living conditions. If you have water coming into your house (even if the wall is just wet and the water is not actually pouring in), that may be a violation of city and county building codes. If you are a tenant and you live in the city, you can call the Asheville Building Safety Division at office at 259-5764 and request what is called a minimum housing code inspection. .More information from City of Asheville is available here.

If you live in Buncombe County, outside of the City of Asheville, you can call the County Fire Marshal’s office at 250-6620 and request a minimum housing code inspection.

Other Resources

NC State Attorney General’s Office — Consumer Protection Division. Tenants and landlords have rights and responsibilities. More information is on their website at:

Pisgah Legal Services provides free legal aid to those that qualify for services based on income levels. They may be able to help tenants if they have a health and safety concern that is not being addressed.

"People With Asthma: Appropriate Rental Housing Accommodations," this document includes a discussion of the "implied warranty of habitability" and suggests certain steps tenants can take when they have problems (moisture, mold, insects, etc. )

Helpful HUD link for renter's issues and rights in federal housing; Specifically on that page is a link and 800# to report "bad landlords"

Emergency Home Repair for People that Own their Home and Qualify for Assistance Based on Income: Mountain Housing Opportunities