Public Health Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
by
Ian Colbeck
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0124

Introduction

People often assume that air pollution is a modern phenomenon and that it has become worse in recent times. However, since the dawn of history, mankind has been burning biological and fossil fuels to produce heat. The walls of caves, inhabited millennia ago, are covered with layers of soot, and many of the lungs of mummified bodies from Paleolithic times have a black tone. Air pollution in large cities and industrial areas of western Europe has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century; however, it was not until the first half of the 20th century that the adverse health effects of air pollution started attracting scientific attention. Two widely quoted air-pollution episodes, the Great London Smog of 1952 and the Meuse Valley (Belgium) episode of 1930, raised public awareness of the potential health effects of air pollution. While ambient air quality is now improving, indoor air quality has attracted public concern and increasing scientific interest due to the proliferation of sealed buildings, energy conservation programs, new building and consumer products, and the recognition of the health effects of radon and asbestos. Indoor air quality is now an important component of public health.

Introductory Works

The majority of books consider the impact of ambient air pollution on health. The mechanisms of effect are likely to be the same for the indoor environment as for outdoor ones. However, the pollutant mix is likely to be different. Early books were based on the results of short-term studies, and it is only relatively recently that an assessment of long-term exposure to air pollution has become available. Texts typically cover the chemistry and physics of air pollution in addition to epidemiological, mechanistic, and toxicological studies such as Holgate, et al. 1999. Others, like Hester and Harrison 1998 and Ayres, et al. 2006, are part of a series on air pollution, and so for a full picture the related volumes should be read.

  • Ayres, Jon, Robert Maynard, and Roy Richards. 2006. Air pollution and health. London: Imperial College.

    DOI: 10.1142/9781860949234E-mail Citation »

    Volume 3 in the series Air Pollution Reviews. It considers issues associated with point, rather than diffuse, sources of air pollution. It deals with the distribution of pollutants within the lung and the uncertainties with regard to define the dose. One of the few books to discuss the impact of nasal disease on lung exposure.

  • Hester, Ronald E., and Roy M. Harrison, eds. 1998. Air pollution and health. Cambridge, UK: Royal Society of Chemistry.

    E-mail Citation »

    Written with the general public in mind, this book reflects how the health-effects data can be drawn together to form the basis of air-quality standards. It also provides information on the health effects of airborne chemical carcinogens. Policy and research initiatives on indoor air quality are discussed.

  • Holgate, Stephen T., Jonathan M. Samet, Hillel S. Koren, and Robert L. Maynard. 1999. Air pollution and health. London: Academic Press.

    E-mail Citation »

    This book provides an overview of air-pollution science and its impact on human health. Coverage ranges from meteorology and atmospheric chemistry to pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. Cost implications, risk assessment, and air-quality standards are also considered. The book highlights the importance of the indoor environment as a source of pollutants.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.

Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article

Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.

If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email onlinemarketing@oup.com to express your interest.

Article

Up

Down