Indoor air pollutants to be searched for as a priority?


The air that we breathe inside buildings is often more polluted than the air outside.

Approximately 80% of the material we absorb passes through our breath.

Since we spend most of our days in buildings, the quality of indoor air is an inseparable part of our quality of life.

Why is the indoor air polluted?

The main factors responsible for the degradation of indoor air in a building are the insulation and containment of buildings combined with the emission of indoor pollution mainly from renovation and decoration materials, the use of chemicals (household products and cosmetics), heating systems and human activities.

Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are a family of indoor air pollutants. They are gaseous at room temperature and present in significant concentrations in the indoor environment.

They therefore pose a significant health risk to occupants because they pass very easily into the body through the lungs.

What are the health risks of indoor air pollution?

VOCs are all irritating to the respiratory tract and can produce inflammation of the bronchi and lungs.

They promote asthma and aggravate breathing difficulties. 

Some VOCs are particularly toxic.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and its agency the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have drawn up a list of substances that are carcinogenic to humans

Even if there is still a lot of research to be done to better understand the toxicity of the hundreds of thousands of chemicals present in our daily lives, substances classified in group 1 are proven carcinogens.

What are the priority pollutants to be tested in indoor air?

Five frequently measured VOCs in indoor air are now classified in the WHO list of carcinogenic substances:

- Formaldehyde
- Benzene
- Naphthalene
- Trichloroethylene
- Tetrachloroethylene.

The prevention of indoor air pollution requires the identification and elimination of the most hazardous potential sources of VOC emissions.

Understanding these risks means being able to improve your quality of life on a daily basis.

What are the main sources of formaldehyde emissions?

Formaldehyde is a VOC of the aldehyde family. It is present in the indoor air of all homes and offices. The sources of formaldehyde emissions to indoor air are mainly inside buildings.

Formaldehyde is one of the top priority indoor air pollutants.

Formaldehyde is formed during the combustion of organic materials. It is present in tobacco, incense and candle smoke. It is also generated by heating systems such as fireplaces or wood or pellet stoves.

Raw wood and household products emit significant amounts of formaldehyde.

Natural wood contains traces of formaldehyde, but non-raw wood (chipboard, mdf, reconstituted wood, plywood, etc.) is generally manufactured using a glue containing a high proportion of formaldehyde. Furniture and building materials are therefore an important source of formaldehyde in indoor air.

Formaldehyde is a biocide and is often present in household products.

What are the main sources of benzene emissions?

Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon.

​It is naturally present in petroleum. The presence of a busy traffic artery near the building can produce significant indoor air pollution by benzene.

The traffic of combustion engine vehicles and industrial activities are the main sources of outdoor air pollution by benzene

A garage with an internal combustion engine vehicle or equipped with a heating oil tank can release benzene into the indoor air of a building.

An oil tank, chimney or wood stove emits significant amounts of benzene.

Benzene is formed during the combustion of materials. It is emitted during the operation of a fireplace or wood or pellet stove, the use of candles or incense. Tobacco smoke is also a source of pollution by this carcinogenic VOC.

What are the main sources of naphthalene emissions?

Naphthalene is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH).

It has long been used as an anti-moth in naphthalene, which is crystalline naphthalene. Now banned, it has been replaced by substances such as 1,4-dichlorobenzene.

PAHs are formed during the combustion of materials. Like benzene, it is emitted during the operation of a fireplace or wood or pellet stove, the use of candles or incense.

Fuels and the combustion of materials emit high levels of benzene.

Tobacco smoke also contains naphthalene and is a source of indoor air pollution.

What are the main sources of trichloroethylene emissions?

Trichloroethylene is a chlorinated solvent used in the chemical industry. It is used in particular as a solvent for degreasing mechanical parts. Its sale is now prohibited for private individuals.

Soil pollution is often responsible for the presence of trichloroethylene in indoor air.

The presence of trichloroethylene in indoor air is often the result of solvent-polluted soil. Solvents are gaseous and will diffuse into the building, first into the basement or room at floor level and then up into the floors.

What are the main sources of tetrachloroethylene emissions?

Tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethylene is a chlorinated solvent commonly used in industry. Due to its toxicity, it is no longer permitted in consumer products.

Tetrachloroethylene has been used for several decades in dry-cleaning garments in dry cleaners. Its smell is characteristic of this activity. 

Legislation is now moving in the direction of replacing it with less toxic substances and technological developments. Indoor air pollution by tetrachloroethylene is often linked to the presence of a dry-cleaning facility nearby.

​To a lesser extent, clothes brought back from the dry cleaner's can be the cause of occasional indoor air pollution.

Dry cleaning of clothes is frequently done with perchloroethylene and this activity is responsible for significant indoor air pollution

Like trichloroethylene, soil pollution can cause indoor air pollution from perchloroethylene.

How do you know if your indoor air is polluted?

These five pollutants are designated as being of high concern in indoor air and their research is a public health priority in many countries (United States, European Community, United Kingdom) and they are among the 8 pollutants concerned by the WHO recommendations on indoor air quality.

It is now the responsibility of everyone, concerned about their health, to test for the presence of indoor air pollution by formaldehyde, benzene, naphthalene, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. 

The YOOTEST Indoor Air Quality allows to carry out in all simplicity a precise measurement of these priority pollutants.


Indoor Air Quality Test

Indoor air quality diagnosis to measure indoor air pollution by benzene, formaldehyde and other VOCs. Test with laboratory analysis. Order your Test