Levels of pollutants in indoor air and respiratory health in preschool children: a systematic review

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2009 Mar;44(3):231-43. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20965.


The aim of this paper is thus to identify, evaluate, and summarize in a systematic fashion all the epidemiological studies that have analyzed the association between exposure to specific indoor air pollutants and respiratory disease among children under the age of five. A search was carried out in the main biomedical bibliographic sources in December 2006 and updated in February 2008. The study period covered 12 years (1996-2007). All the selected papers were carefully read. We focused on studies that analyzed at least one indicator of respiratory health and which included one or more indoor air pollutants in relation to the respiratory health of children under the age of 5. Studies that analyzed passive smoking as the sole source of indoor air pollution were not included. Fourteen studies were considered to be relevant. The most analyzed pollutant was nitrogen dioxide, followed by volatile organic compounds, airborne particulates and other pollutants; phthalates and CO(2). The literature reviewed within our criteria seems to indicate that several indoor pollutants, even at the moderate levels found in the developed countries, could be harmful to the respiratory health of very young children. Future research should focus on conducting more studies, preferably making use of cohorts, with adequate techniques for measuring indoor pollution levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Causality
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis


  • Particulate Matter
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Nitric Oxide