The Secret Pollutants of Indoor Air

Is the drive towards better insulated buildings and the continued use of harsher cleaning chemicals exposing us to a new cocktail of indoor air pollutants?

New research on human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor level of pollutants may be 2 to 5 times – and occasionally more than 100 times – higher than outdoor levels. Considering most people spend about 90% of their time indoors the health effects of these high levels of pollutants is of growing concern.

Several hundred various types of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can be detected in the air in most indoor environments. The sources of these VOCs lie all around us. Construction materials (e.g floorings, paints, furniture, glue), consumer products (electrical and electronic devices), and standard cleaning products that we use on a daily basis act as emitters of VOCs into the atmosphere.


For example:

  • 1,500 new synthetic chemicals are introduced into the marketplace every year.
  • Cleaning products are responsible for approx. 10% of toxic exposures.
  • 70% of the exposure to all chemicals we come in contact with in life take place indoors.
  • Of the 17,000 petrochemicals available in the consumer market only 30% have been tested for exposure to human health and the environment.
A study published in Environmental Impact Perspective investigated VOCs emitted from 25 common fragranced consumer products, including:

With these everyday products surrounding us in our daily lives, along with the continued drive toward better insulated and more energy efficient buildings the dangers of indoor air pollution are becoming more prevalent.