It may come as a surprise for some, but air pollution risk does not end once you step indoors. People living in poorly-ventilated homes face the added risk of indoor air pollutants from smoking, cooking fumes, suspended particulate matter, mould, dust-mites and animal dander.

“Indoor air-pollution is almost as bad as outdoor air pollution and it affects as much a person who already suffers from respiratory illness as it affects a healthy person,” said Dr Vikas Maurya, senior pulmonologist, Fortis Healthcare.


Smoking at home is the biggest health hazard, especially in poorly ventilated apartments, say experts.

Passive intake of smoke is equally harmful and the bi-products linger on curtains and other articles in the house for very long.

“One should keep windows open while cooking and taking shower to maintain healthy air circulation,” Dr Maurya added.

Common indoor air pollutants and their health effects



Health effect

Sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever, and digestive problems

Dust mites

Health effect

Triggers asthma symptoms


Health effect

Skin and airway allergy, triggers cough, wheezing


Carbon Monoxide

Health effect

Headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, chest pain and disorientation. Causes sudden illness and even death


Health effect

Coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, throat irritation and even lung damage

Tobacco smoke

Health effect

Triggers asthma, eye, nose and throat irritation,

Volatile Organic Compounds: Organic chemicals used as ingredients in household products such as paints, varnish, cleaning agents, disinfectants, wax, glue, cosmetics etc.

Health effect

Neurological problems, retarded fetal growth, birth defects, developmental problems, hormonal imbalance

Source: Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta