Indoor air pollution sources

Learn more about the sources of indoor air pollution in your home with this interactive image. I've included tips for cleansing too. Hover and click on the titles to discover more.

Indoor air pollution origins
Volatile Organic Compounds Pollen Cigarettes Mould Candles Formaldehyde Air Fresheners Radon Fireplace Pesticides Pet Dander Dust

Volatile Organic Compounds

vocs indoor air pollution

They’re sourced from crude oil. So when they’re applied to the walls, skin, paper or whatever, they emit VOCs in a process called off-gassing. Petroleum products, like crude oil, all contain VOCs that will readily evaporate into the
VOCs tend to be introduced into synthetic fragrances without being disclosed in the ingredients.

An independent study conducted on air fresheners using gas chromatography on an
undisclosed brand and found 14 VOCs in the aerosol. Guess how many the company disclosed?



pollen indoor air pollution

Simply minute yellow granules discharged form male flowers that easily become suspended in the air.

If you have hayfever, your body is hypersensitive to pollen, and because it cares about you a lot, it’s producing a bunch of histamine. But there’s really no need. The pollen granules are harmless; it’s just that your body doesn't know it yet.

Your body is attacking the pollen particulates in the same way it would
an infectious disease.


cigarette smoke air pollution

I don’t want to get into a massive lecture about cigarettes because we all know of the health consequences.

So, with over 4,000 compounds packed into each one, 40 of which are known carcinogens, it would be wise to smoke outside (mention the same to your visitors), or go the extra mile and quit altogether!

Unsurprisingly, secondhand smoke will deteriorate indoor air quality considerably, leaving behind an unpleasant odour and a real danger to all those around you.


mould indoor air quality

Mould is going to grow anywhere in the home providing it has the following 3 things:
- Humidity
- Condensation
- Water intrusion from leaky pipes etc.

Mould only needs moisture to grow...


Dangers of scented candles

So paraffin candles are the problem because they're derived from crude oil. You're really just burning fossil fuels in your home and emitting a lot of inhalable soot.

But to make matters worse, they’re scented, and that means chemically treating them. That's the dangers of scented candles!

Unfortunately, this isn’t a 100% natural oil fragrance; they’re laced with
synthetic chemicals. But there are a lot of great, safe alternatives so you can still burn candles, don't worry! Beeswax and soy are the main two.


formaldehyde air pollution

A type of volatile organic compound, formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen. Paints would be the primary source indoors and lacquer on wood. Meaning, after the coating is applied, over time the formaldehyde will evaporate from the surface.

Air Fresheners

plug-in air freshener dangers

86% of air fresheners contain phthalates, a semi-VOC, greatly affecting testosterone and hormones, so why would they disclose this; it’s bad for business, right?

Plug-in air fresheners can be swapped for pot pourrie, simmer pots and essential oil diffusers.


radon and lung cancer

You may not have thought about radon gas (Ra); it’s colourless, odourless
and tasteless. Talk about hidden, right? It seeps up through the cracks in your walls and floor, causing 3-14% of lung cancer cases in each country,

Get a Radon test kit to confirm it's presence, then call in professional help. They'll create a bypass line from the source, such as cracks in the basement and vent to atmosphere. It's a pretty simple procedure.


burning wood and air quality

Use wood that's dried for at least 6 months.
A good moisture meter will only set you back $10-15 and can be found in all hardware stores or Amazon and eBay. The reading on the meter should be below 20 (% moisture content).

You’ll probably be able to see on the image that 20 and above is in the red-zone. Make sure to test all you’re firewood before using it.


harsh chemical insecticide

Synthetic chemical insecticides can be harsh and dangerous to inhale.

Instead, look for boric acid, diatomaceous earth, glue traps and such like for infestations. I have a blog post on this:

Roaches and dust mites are discussed in the article.

Pet Dander

pet dander

Dander is tiny flecks of skin and fluff shed from your pets: dogs,
cats, rabbits, ferrets etc. Because these animals like to groom themselves by licking, saliva is attached to the shed skin. It’s actually the proteins found in the saliva and urine that cause the allergy, rather than the skin particles themselves.

So the skin and hair itself aren’t the triggers. But the latter still contribute to dust, pollen and mould accumulation, so we still want rid of them.


dust air pollution

The issues with dust are what's living on and within it: dust mites. Microscopic arachnids whose faeces cause an allergic reaction.

Regular vacuuming (including your mattress), a stationary HEPA filter/air purifier, hypoallergenic bedding and steam cleaning is the killer remedy.