Smog, power plants and emissions from cars and trucks are the things you probably think when you think of air pollution. Those are all examples of outdoor air pollution, but air indoors can be polluted, too. Indoor air is far more concentrated with pollutants than outdoor air that is why it is a very real and dangerous thing. Some of the pollutants have been in human homes since our cave-dwelling days.

All combined, indoor air pollution causes 3.8 million deaths worldwide each year from diseases such as stroke and lung cancer. Here are some air pollutant that we need to look out for:

Carpet Fumes

When a new carpet is installed, there’s a very good chance it will release chemicals from its vinyl backing and the glue used to hold the carpet to the floor. This release of chemicals is known as off-gassing. Some of these chemicals have been associated with headaches, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath (dyspnea), and asthma-like reactions.

Paint and VOCs

Household paints are full of volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs. VOCs can cause health problems in high enough concentrations, and a fresh coat of paint may just do the trick. Ever notice a headache after painting? Now you know why.

Excess Moisture

Moisture is one of the most important and least recognized indoor pollutants, affecting both human health and the health of the building. The most common moisture problems arise when warm moist air encounters a cool surface such as a mirror, window, or the wall of a cooler space.

Tobacco Smoke

Smoking is in a class by itself because its health consequences (even for non-smokers) are so well-documented and because it produces copious amounts of both harmful gases and particles. From both an indoor air quality and health perspective, few activities rival smoking in detrimental effects.