Indoor Air Quality: Is Your Health at Risk in Your Own Home and is There Anything You Can Do About it? 

Concerns about indoor air quality are a relatively recent phenomenon, as for a long time the general consensus was that the only place where air could be polluted was outdoors. But research has shown that indoor air can carry risks as well, and while vulnerable populations, such as those dealing with chronic lung issues or allergies are primarily at risk, people with no previous health complaints can be affected as well. Depending on the type of pollutants you’re exposed to, the health effects can range from annoying but mild, such as nose, throat and eye irritation, to more severe issues like heart and respiratory disease.

The good news is that there are several solutions you can employ in your own home in order to improve air quality and your overall quality of life as well. But first, it’s essential to identify the culprits of air pollution in your own household.

Excess moisture 

Having too much moisture indoors is known as a common cause of mould and mildew, but you were probably not aware of the fact that it can affect the air quality in your home as well. If you live in a humid, hot climate, you’re even more likely to deal with this issue, but leaking roofs, damp basements, plumbing issues, cooking, and condensation in winter can also cause excess moisture to build up in your rooms. When humidity levels go above 50%, your home becomes a hotbed for bacterial growth, dust mites and allergens. If you have asthma or allergies, you might notice that you experience flare-ups during these periods.

Using a dehumidifier can help minimise the amount of humidity in the air, but you should also raise the temperature of cold surfaces where condensation is more likely to form. You can also invest in better insulation if the problem stems from there.


VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are gases resulting from processes and products. They include a wide variety of chemicals with different impacts on human health. While some cause issues in the short term, others are more likely to cause trouble in the long term. Concentrations are considerably higher indoors than outdoors, with levels being ten times higher sometimes. Paint, wood preservatives, cleaning products and disinfectants, air fresheners, clothing that has been dry-cleaned, building materials, office supplies like correction fluid and printers, as well as arts and crafts supplies, can all release VOCs into the air you breathe. Perhaps surprisingly, plants can help reduce the quantity of volatile organic compounds.

Go to elho to discover the best pots and planters that will allow your greenery to thrive in your living room. Increasing ventilation can decrease the quantity of chemicals in the air, reducing their harmful effects on health. Installing an air purifier helps by trapping all debris in the air, from the large ones to the nanoparticles.

Exposure to VOCs comes with a wide range of adverse health effects, including headaches, eye and throat irritation and, in more extreme cases, damage to the kidneys, central nervous system and liver.


Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is present everywhere on the planet. It is formed as a result of the uranium in all soils and rocks, and while it exists outdoors as well it is naturally more diluted. It is only indoors that it presents a health hazard, and it can be found in both homes and workplaces. Research shows that it is a leading cause of lung cancer, which is why it’s crucial to identify its concentration in the air you breathe and take adequate measures to reduce it.

Radon has no specific smell, taste or colour and remains completely imperceptible even in very high concentrations. The only way to determine if your home has a radon problem is to run a professional test. Although its impact on human health can be scary and it is impossible to bring radon levels to zero, there are several ways to lower the quantity as much as possible. Increasing ventilation is crucial, especially on the lower floors where the gas is more likely to accumulate. Sealing all cracks in the floor can also help as well. A personal risk factor that can increase radon’s impact on the body is smoking.

And while you can not rely solely on plants to make the air safer, a 2009 study revealed that they can trap some of the airborne radon. Some plants can be switched between indoors and outdoors, but you will need large plant pots outdoors to support their growth outside.

Indoor Particulate Matter 

Commonly known as PM, particulate matter includes both liquid and solid particles that remain suspended in the air. Their composition, shape and sizes vary, and once inhaled, they can cause problems for your heart and lungs. PMs commonly originate outdoors and then migrate inside. Car exhaust, road dust, smoke and emissions from factories are common culprits, but so are natural and seemingly harmless compounds like pollen. Indoor particulate matter comes as a result of fireplace use, heaters that are not properly vented, the use of kerosene and cigarette smoke. Burning candles can also emit particulate matter indoors.

All combustion appliances, including furnaces, stoves, and heaters, should be adequately vented to the outdoors. If you use a wood stove, make sure to get an appliance certified according to official emission standards and that all the doors fit tightly. Have all your heating systems cleaned and inspected annually so that potential leaks can be remedied immediately. Change filters on both heating and cooling systems, as well as air purifiers, according to manufacturing directions.

Keeping the indoor air clean might sound like a very basic task, and you might believe that the lack of any unpleasant odours must mean the air is clean. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, and you’ll have to put in a little extra effort. However, doing so is imperative to maintaining your health and well-being. Sometimes, the health damage resulting from contact with these substances will only show up many years later. And since prevention is often the best cure, you’ll certainly thank yourself in the future.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.