Indoor air quality

It is well established that outdoor air pollution is harmful to human health. However, less attention has been paid to the potential health effects of indoor air pollution.

Health based air quality standards and objectives set to protect us from the impacts of outdoor air pollution do not apply indoors, even though most of us spend around 90% of our time inside homes, schools and workplaces.

Sources of indoor air pollution

Indoor air pollution is a mixture of pollutants generated inside a building from building materials, furniture and furnishings, or by activities such as cooking, heating, smoking and use of paints, varnishes, cleaning products and air fresheners. Pollutants generated outside a building (by industrial processes, traffic emissions, etc.) can also migrate indoors through windows or other means of ventilation. Heating and cooking appliances and environmental tobacco smoke are the most important indoor sources of pollution in UK homes.

Like outdoor air pollution the pollutants inside your home can impact on your health. Those most at risk are young children and adults with existing lung and heart conditions.

Reducing indoor exposure

Some ways you can reduce exposure to air pollutants inside you home include:

  • Using electric rather than gas cooking appliances
  • Avoid or reduce the use of solid fuel appliances in your home, for example wood burning stoves
  • Swap to pump action or roll on cleaning and personal products that don’t use aerosols
  • Avoid or reduce the use of candles and incense in your home
  • Don’t smoke or vape inside –both smoking and vaping create large amounts of particulate pollution as well as other harmful chemicals
  • Minimise exposure to allergens such as mould and dust mites
  • Ventilate your home regularly, especially during and after cooking activities and if you have recently decorated or bought new furniture or carpets

More information on indoor air pollutants and how to reduce your exposure is available on the following websites: