Public health, environmental and social determinants of health (PHE)

Background information on urban outdoor air pollution

What is the difference between urban outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution? Does urban air outdoor pollution contribute to indoor air pollution? And vice-versa?

Most air pollution is man-made and derives from poor combustion of fossil or biomass fuels (e.g. exhaust fumes from cars, furnaces or wood stoves).

Urban outdoor air pollution refers to the air pollution experienced by populations living in and around urban areas (i.e. cities).

Indoor air pollution refers to the pollutants found in indoors. The main cause of indoor air pollution is inefficient fuel combustion from rudimentary technologies used for cooking, heating and lighting. There are also natural indoor air pollutants, like radon, and chemical pollutants from building materials and cleaning products that also impact t health.

Urban outdoor air pollution can be an important contributor to the indoor air quality, especially in highly ventilated homes, or in homes near pollution sources. Similarly, indoor air pollution sources may also be important causes of urban outdoor air pollution, especially in cities where many homes use biomass fuels or coal for heating and cooking.