Indoor particulate matter in urban households: Sources, pathways, characteristics, health effects, and exposure mitigation

Ling Zhang, Changjin Ou, Dhammika Magana-Arachchi, Meththika Vithanage, Kanth Swaroop Vanka, Thava Palanisami, Kanaji Masakorala, Hasintha Wijesekara, Yubo Yan, Nanthi Bolan, M. B. Kirkham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in the air with varying size, shape, and chemical composition which intensifies significant concern due to severe health effects. Based on the well-established human health effects of outdoor PM, health-based standards for outdoor air have been promoted (e.g., the National Ambient Air Quality Standards formulated by the U.S.). Due to the exchange of indoor and outdoor air, the chemical composition of indoor particulate matter is related to the sources and components of outdoor PM. However, PM in the indoor environment has the potential to exceed outdoor PM levels. Indoor PM includes particles of outdoor origin that drift indoors and particles that originate from indoor activities, which include cooking, fireplaces, smoking, fuel combustion for heating, human activities, and burning incense. Indoor PM can be enriched with inorganic and organic contaminants, including toxic heavy metals and carcinogenic volatile organic compounds. As a potential health hazard, indoor exposure to PM has received increased attention in recent years because people spend most of their time indoors. In addition, as the quantity, quality, and scope of the research have expanded, it is necessary to conduct a systematic review of indoor PM. This review discusses the sources, pathways, characteristics, health effects, and exposure mitigation of indoor PM. Practical solutions and steps to reduce exposure to indoor PM are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11055
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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