Editorials

Air pollution in homes

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7042.1316 (Published 25 May 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1316
  1. David Coggon
  1. Reader in occupational and environmental medicine MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD

    May be more important than outdoor pollution but is more difficult to monitor

    The dangers of air pollution are a regular topic of discussion in the lay press, much of it ill informed. For example, the increasing prevalence of asthma in Britain and elsewhere is widely attributed to the rise in pollutants from motor vehicles, although the balance of scientific evidence suggests that any influence of traffic pollutants on the initiation of asthma is small.1 Traffic pollutants, especially fine particulates, do seem to cause illness, but their impact on public health is probably less than that of smoking, diet, and poor housing.

    To date, attention has focused mainly on pollutants in outdoor air, for which it is easy to blame others rather than ourselves. Indoor hazards that have attracted publicity have also tended to be those caused by someone else—such as asbestos in schools and council flats or …

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