Indoor air pollution and health effects

Some indoor air pollutants can cause immediate health effects, such as difficulty breathing, headaches, dizziness, allergic responses, fatigue and even death in the case of carbon monoxide. Long term exposure to air pollutants such as radon gas or formaldehyde can lead to cancers of the lung or blood. Heart and respiratory disease and neurological problems can also result from chronic exposure to the particulates generated by vehicles, certain cooking techniques, wood smoke and consumer products. People with existing health conditions such as COPD or asthma may be particularly sensitive to exposure to poor indoor air quality. Indoor air problems can occur in both older homes and brand new houses so everyone needs to pay attention to what is in the air around them.

Who is most vulnerable?

Everyone indoors can be affected by indoor air pollutions Infants and children, those with pre-existing heart and lung diseases are susceptible to the health effects from indoor air pollution.

What influences whether pollutants are found inside your home?

The pollutants found inside homes depend on several factors such as:

  • location- how close a home is to highways, industrial facilities or forest fires
  • geology- if the home is in a region with higher amounts of uranium in the soils around or near the home.
  • design features, such as ventilation systems, fire-places, insulation type, vents, air conditioning and even renovations can influence how contaminants enter and remain indoors. 
  • Activities like high temperature frying, burning wood or candles 
  • consumer products such as furniture, paints, cleaning products and plants can also contribute to problems in indoor air.a

Page Last Updated: 09/07/2019