The Ultimate Indoor Air Pollution Quiz

Estimated Completion Time
2 min
The Ultimate Indoor Air Pollution Quiz
Image: iStockphoto.com/Lise Gagne

About This Quiz

Counterintuitively, air pollution is often much worse inside the home than it is outdoors. A tremendous number of different types of pollutants can enter the home through common products and remain trapped there. Take this quiz to see if you've learned enough about indoor air quality to allow yourself to breathe easily.
How much worse can the quality of indoor air be than that of the air outdoors?
twice as bad
four times as bad
ten times as bad
Enclosed space without proper ventilation can lead to a buildup of hazardous pollutants.

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Which of these does TerrEssentials' Home Air Quality Test Kit test for?
formaldehyde
This home kit tests for all sorts of air pollutants. Others include carbon monoxide and dioxide, bacteria and various fungi.
chlorine
nitrogen

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About what percent of their time do people spend indoors on average?
half
75 percent
90 percent
Compound this with the fact that indoor air pollution can come from various normal household sources, and checking indoor air quality becomes essential.

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How much time does the average person spend at home, in particular?
35 percent
65 percent
With so much time spent at home, it would make sense to ensure that the air there is safe to breathe and clean.
75 percent

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Which of these is a potential outcome of long-term exposure to indoor air pollution?
coma
The consequences of breathing in indoor air pollution can be quite serious. Lung cancer is another serious potential effect.
heart disease
hair loss

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What type of home air filter is the most effective at blocking pollutants?
fiberglass
pleated
electrostatic
While fiberglass filters are the most cost-efficient, electrostatic filters combine the physical strengths of a pleated filter with the ability to attract even more particles using an electric charge.

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What is the MERV rating of an air filter?
Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value
The American Lung Association recommends a minimum MERV rating of 10.
Maximum Effectiveness Recorded Value
Micro-Electric Range Value

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Although hazardous PCB was banned from production in America in 1970, where may it still be found?
wire coatings
Polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, still remains in a number of household sources, including sealants and wood floor finishes.
insulation
carpets

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Which other banned source of indoor air pollution remains in many homes in their insulation and floor tiles?
asbestos
Asbestos was a very popular building material for many years, particularly for insulation purposes. Removing it can be a costly and complex job.
formaldehyde
fluorine

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What types of household products often contain harmful formaldehyde?
pressed wood
Pressed wood can be used for subflooring, inexpensive furniture or shelving. Some paints may also contain formaldehyde.
glass
plastics

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Where does radon typically originate from?
underneath the home
Radon is a radioactive gas that can enter a home from the bedrock beneath it.
the local air
the house's water supply

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Which of these is considered a biological contaminant?
pollen
Other biological contaminants include mold, animal dander, viruses and even cockroaches.
pesticides
tobacco smoke

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Which of these is a harmful pollutant released by combustion?
carbon monoxide
If you heat your home using a solid fuel such as wood or coal, you must ensure proper ventilation for the harmful gasses to escape.
nitrous oxide
chlorine

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How much of the average person's exposure to pesticides occurs indoors?
30 percent
55 percent
80 percent
Up to 12 different pesticides have been measured inside. Thus pesticides are among the serious air pollutants that affect indoor air quality.

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How does the air quality of a commercial aircraft compare with that of the average home?
significantly worse
about the same
much better
Commercial jets employ high quality air filtration and ventilation systems. They may remove up to 63 percent of the contaminants.

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What problem plagued many of the trailer homes supplied by FEMA to Hurricane Katrina victims?
high levels of formaldehyde
Three years after they were given out, many of the trailers were replaced when the problems were finally recognized.
exposed fiberglass
PCB contamination

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How many known poisons are found in secondhand smoke?
24
97
200
In addition, it contains at least 43 known carcinogens. The American Lung Association reports that secondhand smoke causes the deaths of around 3,000 people due to lung cancer each year, and many more due to heart disease.

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How do combustion gases cause harm?
by preventing oxygen from flowing through your body
Such gases are associated with a host of symptoms, such as dizziness or fatigue. At high levels, inhalation can lead to unconsciousness or even death.
by increasing the risk of cancer
by reducing the immune system's effectiveness

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Under what circumstances might opening windows and doors actually worsen your home's indoor air quality?
if you live in a very humid area
Letting moisture into your home can lead to the growth of mold, another air quality pollutant. Humidity in the house should be kept at 30 to 50 percent.
when it is particularly warm outside
if you have a radon pollution problem

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What did Consumer Reports discover following tests of ionizing air cleaners?
that most are ineffective
that only the very expensive ones work, and they may not be worth the cost
that they can actually harm the indoor air quality by raising ozone levels
High ozone levels are bad for asthma and can lead to chest pain and poor breathing.

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You Got:
/20
iStockphoto.com/Lise Gagne
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