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What pollutants are in my habitat? Where did they come from?

Air pollutants are numerous and do not all present the same health risk.

The main pollutants present in the gaseous state in our homes are formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds (benzene, toluene, aldehydes…) and carbon monoxide.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are compounds in gaseous state, invisible and very common in indoor air.

The Indoor Air Quality Observatory has classified chemical pollutants according to their toxicity in the short and medium term. The criteria used are the acute risk, the chronic risk and the frequency of detection inside the dwellings.

The origins of these substances are varied. The main sources of chemical pollutants are listed in the table below:

Discover in video


 Types of pollutants Possible origins
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) Building or decorative materials, furniture, cleaning products, cooking food, tobacco smoke… 
 Formaldehyde Particle board, chipboard, insulating foams, carpets, textiles, glues, paints, cosmetics, tobacco smoke…
Organic solvents Paints, stains, varnishes…
 Glycol ethers Some “water-based” paints, inks, varnishes, glues, cleaning products, thinners, cosmetics… 
Hydrocarbons (benzene, toluene, xylene, styrene, octane, trichloroethylene…) DIY products, furniture, tobacco smoke, paints, varnishes, glues, inks, carpets, insecticides, plastics, insulation, stain removers… 
 CO (carbon monoxide) Heating and hot water combustion appliances, poorly adjusted or inefficient, tobacco smoke 
Pesticides Wood treatment products, treatment products for plants and domestic animals, insecticides… 


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