We usually think of local air pollution as a problem caused by cars and industry – and that is correct – but what about pollution at home? Indoor pollution can be many times higher than outdoor pollution…
- studies from the United States and Europe show that persons in industrialised nations spend more than 90% of their time indoors*;
- the concentrations of many pollutants indoors exceed those outdoors. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be 2-5 times, and occasionally more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels;
- the locations of highest concern are those involving prolonged, continuing exposure - that is, the home, school, and workplace;
- the lung is the most common site of injury by airborne pollutants. Acute effects, however, may also include non-respiratory signs and symptoms, which may depend upon toxicological characteristics of the substances and host-related factors;
- according to a WHO study**, indoor air pollution, caused mainly by the use of solid fuel, is estimated to kill more than 50,000 children (under-four years old) annually throughout Europe.
* US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation. Report to Congress on Indoor Air Quality, Volume II: Assessment and Control of Indoor Air Pollution, pp. I, 4-14. EPA 400-1-89-001C, 1989.** Published in the UK medical journal The Lancet in 2004.