Sources of Indoor Pollution

There are various sources of indoor air pollutants in any building. A partial list of common sources is given in the table. Several types of combustion sources release inorganic gaseous pollutants, formaldehyde, suspended par-ticulates that can be breathed, and other toxic chemicals. Tobacco products also release a mixture of over 4,000 compounds.


Environmental Condition(s) Symptoms

• Ergonomie Conditions


• Noise and Vibration


Poor Concentration



Headache with nausea

Ringing in ears

Pounding heart

• Relative Humidity

Dry throat

Shortness of breath or bronchial asthma

Irritation and infection of respiratory tract

• Relative Humidity

Nasal problems (stuffiness, irritation)

• High Temperatures

• Warm Air

Skin problems (dryness, irritation, rashes)

• Low Relative Humidity

• Excessive Air Movement

• Artificial Light

Eye problems (burning, dry gritty eye)

carcinogen any substance that can cause or aggravate cancer bioaerosol very fine airborne particles produced by living organisms heavy metals metallic elements with high atomic weights; (e.g. mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead); can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain

The pollutants released from building materials include formaldehyde, asbestos, and to a lesser extent radon. Formaldehyde is used in a variety of products, ranging from lipstick and shampoo to kitchen cabinets and carpeting, because it is an excellent preservative and bonding agent. Pressed wood products and furniture made with these products are found in offices and homes throughout the world. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation is one of the major sources of formaldehyde. Asbestos, a known human carcinogen, is a mineral fiber that was widely used in a variety of building materials and as an insulating material and fire retardant in the United States until its use was banned in the early 1970s.

Indoor radon problems generally result from the entry of radon gas released as a result of the radioactive decay of uranium found in soil around the house and in the geological formation under the foundation. Building materials such as granite, clay, bricks, rocks, sandstone, and concrete containing alum shale may also be major sources of radon, depending on their uranium content.

The pollutants released due to overcrowding of humans or animals include bioaerosols. Most of the bioaerosols present in the outdoors are induced indoors either by natural or mechanical intake of the ventilation systems. Humidifiers, air conditioning systems, cooling towers, mechanical ventilation systems, air-distribution ducts, and areas of water damage are the best breeding places for these bioaerosols. Pets are sources of saliva and dander.

Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and chromium have been found indoors. Their levels depend on the concentrations in outdoor air and the surrounding soil and dust. The residential use of lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978, decades after being outlawed in much of Europe because of the danger it posed to children. Residual lead paint is still present in many older buildings.

Indoor Pollution Source

Household products and personal care items are a constant source of indoor air pollution. Hobbies such as welding and soldering can easily add more pollutants to indoor environments. Office machines and domestic air cleaners are a major source of ozone.

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