When we picture poor air quality, many of us will think of outdoor pollution such as exhaust fumes or industrial smoke. However, some of the far more dangerous risks can actually come from inside our homes or at our place of work. In this article, we will investigate the dangers of poor indoor air quality.

What can cause poor indoor air quality?
Most commonly, poor indoor air quality is caused by toxic building materials, poor ventilation, or cleanliness practices. The list below contains some of the most common causes:

  • A build-up of moisture resulting in mold, mildew, and bacterial growth.
  • Concentrations of radon, which can emanate from rock and soil formations. Radon can be present in basements and ground floors. This is usually only hazardous without correct ventilation and/or evacuation systems.
  • Asbestos, which is most commonly found in roofing and insulation.
  • Lead, which can still be found in paints and pipes, particularly in very old properties.
  • Volatile organic compounds can emit toxic fumes from building materials as well as furniture, paints, and carpets.

Health Impacts of Poor Indoor Air Quality
The health impacts caused by poor indoor air quality can range from minor to severe. This can depend on the factors impacting the overall air quality of your home or workplace as well as the length of exposure. The effects can also be immediate or take time to manifest.

Immediate Effects

  • Irritation of eyes, nose, and throat
  • Headaches and/or dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Increased symptoms of those with asthma
  • Similar symptoms to colds/viral infections

Long-term Effects

  • Respiratory diseases
  • Heart diseases
  • Cancers
  • Other debilitating/fatal illnesses

What are Some Common Sources of Indoor Air Pollution?
Listed below are some of the most common causes of poor indoor air quality, being aware of these can help you to make positive changes to your indoor living or work environment, helping to prevent the dangers of poor indoor air quality.

  • Tobacco products
  • Building materials, such as those containing asbestos
  • Newly installed flooring/carpets
  • Furniture made from certain pressed wood products
  • Cleaning products
  • Heating/cooling/humidification devices
  • Excess moisture/damp
  • Outdoor factors like radon, pesticides, and air pollution


The best way you can protect yourself is by ensuring your home and your workplace is well-ventilated. Ventilation helps moisture to dry, greatly reducing the risk of mold or mildew. Check your home regularly for signs of fungi or other concerns, and if you are renting as tenants, be sure to inform your landlord if you notice mold growth appear. This will help ensure your landlord is not only updated on potential problems in their property but can take steps to remediate issues immediately to improve your indoor environment.

When it comes to your workplace, it is also important to report any concerns to your manager. If you notice the beginnings of mold or are developing symptoms you think are caused by poor indoor air quality, be sure to inform management so the issue can be remedied.