26 Oct 2014 
Support Center » Knowledgebase » Air Purifiers » List of Common Indoor Air Contaminants
 List of Common Indoor Air Contaminants



Health Effects

VOC’s - Several hundred VOC’s have been identified in indoor air, including formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, hydrocarbons, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, esters, ethers, etc.

Perfumes, hairsprays, furniture polish, cleaning solvents, hobby and craft supplies, pesticides, carpet dyes and fibers, glues, adhesives, sealants, paints, varnishes, strippers, wood preservatives, dry cleaned clothes, moth repellents, air fresheners, stored fuels and automotive products, contaminated water, plastics, paper products, printing ink.

Eye, nose and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination, memory; nausea; damage to kidneys, liver and central nervous system; some VOC’s are cardiac sensitisers, carcinogens, cause neuro-behavioural problems; formaldehyde may induce allergic responses.

Pesticides - organic and inorganic products used to kill pests, weeds, insects, termites, and rodents.

Domestic pest control, fungicides in paints, glues and other building products, disinfectants, herbicides and other garden products. 

Many of these are nerve poisons, liver poisons, reproductive poisons, endocrine disrupters and sensitisers. Some may induce allergic responses, headaches, asthma, and rashes.



Paint, water pipes, some ceramic glazes, motor exhausts.

Nerve poison; can cause behaviour problems that may not be reversible. Impairs growth and neurological development.

Carbon monoxide



Vehicle exhausts, cigarette smoke, gas stoves, wood stoves, oil heaters, kerosene heaters, unvented fuel burning appliances, faulty chimneys.

Fatigue and drowsiness in healthy people; shortness of breath and chest pain in people with heart disease; irritability, headaches; impaired vision, nausea; dizziness; confusion; poor coordination; flu-like symptoms; starves the body of oxygen; heart damage.

Carbon dioxide


Poor ventilation, fuel stoves and heaters, faulty chimneys, respiration.

Respiratory depressant; changes acidity of the blood; heaviness in the chest; can decrease the ability to perform strenuous exercise.

Nitrogen dioxide

Car exhausts, industrial emissions, fuel burning appliances, gas stoves and heaters, faulty chimneys.

Lung, eye, nose and throat irritant; bronchitis; decreases pulmonary function in asthmatics; lowers resistance to influenza; chest pain.

Sulphur dioxide

Combustion of sulphur burning fuels; kerosene heaters; vehicle emissions, industrial emissions.

Obstructs breathing; decreases lung function; eye, nose and throat irritant; choking; coughing; bronchoconstriction.

Biological contaminants - dust, mould, fungus, pollen, bacteria, animal and human dander, insects, arachnid excreta

Plants; animals; birds; humans; pillows; bedding; house dust; wet or damp areas and materials; standing water; carpets; refrigerator rubbers; old books; air conditioning.

Allergic reactions; asthma; sinusitis; bronchitis; eczema/rashes; bronchial asthma; hypersensitivity pneumonitis; eye, nose, throat, skin irritation, legionella.

Environmental tobacco smoke


Tobacco products. Tobacco smoke can contain 3800 compounds, many of which are carcinogens and mutagens.

Associated with lung cancer; may contribute to heart disease; eye, nose throat irritation; headaches; bronchitis; pneumonia.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s)

Fireplaces; woodstoves; unvented kerosene heaters; vehicle emissions; tobacco products

Irritants, causes lung injury, cardiovascular effects; some are carcinogens


Insulation materials, dust, some wallboards, some cement products, ceiling tiles, floor tiles

Asbestosis, lung injury/cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos is a known human carcinogen.

Wood resins


Plant terpenes from softwoods (pine, spruce, cedar, cypress, hemlock), pine cones, turpentine, essential oils, perfumed plants and flowers, some chemicals used for pest control.

Some are sensitisers; headaches; respiratory irritation.



UNITED STATES. Environmental Protection Agency. Introduction to Indoor Air Quality. EPA/400/3-91/002. July 1991.

Ó ASEHA Qld Inc. PO Box 45, Woody Point Qld 4019

Article Details
Article ID: 38
Created On: 03 Nov 2008 3:30 PM

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