Materials and indoor air pollution

The emission of particulates and gases from materials and furnishings is a major source of indoor air pollution and has many possible adverse health effects. Exposure to pollutants, especially airborne particles, can be greater indoors than outdoors, particularly as 90% of time is spent indoors. Sources of potential indoor air pollution should be minimised.

Indoor air pollutants can generally be of two main types:

  • gases including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, organic compounds, radon and ozone;
  • particulates including asbestos, fibrous particles, suspended particulate matter, viable particulate matter including pollen, fungal and plant spores and smoke.

Soft furnishings, paints and processed wood furniture can emit harmful these substances long after manufacture. By choosing low emission materials, such as floor, wall materials and furnishings, levels of volatile organic compounds’ (VOC) will be reduced, improving conditions for good health. Less polluting timber treatments such as boron or heat treatment can reduce the pollution associated with treated timber.

WLGA - CLILC Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru / Welsh Assembly Government