Pesticides, radon, asbestos, tobacco smoke, bacteria and mold that Americans inhale inside poorly ventilated offices and homes may threaten their health as much as outdoor pollution, according to a draft federal report.
The Environmental Protection Agency report on indoor air pollution was made public at a hearing Wednesday by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.EPA was to have submitted its report to Congress by last October, but an aide to Lautenberg said it has been delayed because the Office of Management and Budget had not completed a review. The senator's office had received the draft copy from EPA in January on condition it be held until the budget office finished going over the document.
"The administration apparently is not ready to address the problem of indoor air pollution," Lautenberg said as he broke the embargo on the document, which calls for nearly $100 million to expand research over the next five years.
The report also attributes more than $1 billion in medical costs from cancer and heart disease to eight indoor pollutants.
It recommends training and education programs for the public and government and endorses establishment of indoor pollution guidelines.
"It is unacceptable for the administration not to have completed or to have made available this report seven months after the law required it to be completed and made available," said Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine. He blamed OMB for delaying the release.
"Yes, it is still here and is actively under review," said OMB spokeswoman Barbara Clay, whose agency received the report in late January from EPA.
EPA spokesman Chris Rice did not return a reporter's phone call.
"We decided to release it because we've given them every opportunity," said Steve Schlein, press secretary to Lautenberg, who heads the Senate Superfund, ocean and water protection subcommittee.