WHEELING - U.S. Rep. David McKinley is asking members of Congress and those at the U.S. Environmental Protection agency which is worse - the outdoor air near a power plant or the air you breathe in your home.
McKinley, R-Wheeling, quoted EPA information acknowledging indoor air can be as much as 96 times more harmful to a person's health than outdoor air because items within an enclosed home can emit potentially dangerous gases including formaldehyde, while cleaning products used indoors often contain ammonia.
McKinley said he will consider creating legislation that could require the labeling of home furnishings and items that emit harmful gases so people know they pose health hazards. That measure would come as he seeks to overturn environmental regulations affecting the coal industry and coal-fired power plants.
"We're going to try to craft something on indoor air quality to make sure the environmentalists having a field day with coal, oil and gas understand that's not all there is," he said. "There are other issues that could be contributing when we get sick ... I'm trying to deflect attention away from our manufacturers. Maybe they're not the ones causing the problem, but yet we're forcing them to do something beyond necessary."
He noted statistics indicate Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, and 60 percent of that time is within their own homes.
"I want to ask the EPA, how do you know when we get sick it's not from indoor air?" McKinley said. "Why are we continuing to attack our employers, our manufacturers, our coal-fired generating power houses and shutting them down when we're getting sick - maybe (from outdoor air). When I get sick and can't go to work, is it from formaldehyde exposure? I don't know.
"I don't want the EPA to come in my office or come in my home. I just want recognition that it's not because we're burning coal that we're getting sick. It could be indoor air quality. We're making ourselves sick ...."
McKinley said his engineering firm has been called into schools found to have high carbon monoxide levels inside. After investigating, it was discovered school officials had closed dampers on the furnace to cut heating costs, preventing a proper amount of outside air to enter the building.
The EPA suggests air in classrooms be replaced about two to four times per hour to promote better health, according to McKinley.
"Now Johnny is breathing the same air as Matilda, and Matilda is sneezing her head off all day long," he said. "And the air is being recirculated in that room. If they had fresh air, maybe Johnny wouldn't have an asthma attack."