June/July 2015 (vol. 12/1)

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Research Plus

Indoor air pollutants and asthma risk

There is only weak evidence on whether or not volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present inside buildings contribute to the development or exacerbation of asthma and allergy in adults (or indeed in children) this systematic review of 53 published papers reveals. VOCs such as benzene, toluene, xylene and formaldehyde can be produced at room temperature from paints, wood, fabrics, cleaning agents, air fresheners, cosmetics, furnishings and floor and wall coverings. There are as many papers showing no detrimental effect of indoor VOCs as there are studies finding raised risks of developing or exacerbating asthma and allergies. Nearly two-thirds (33) of the papers were assessed as having a high risk of bias due to poor methodology. 

Volatile organic compounds and risk of asthma and allergy: a systematic review. European Respiratory Review 2015; 24: 92–101. doi: 10.1183/09059180.0000071


Occupational Health at Work June/July 2015 (vol. 12/1) pp35-36