Indoor air quality

2011

Despite significant reductions in the percentage of Australian homes using wood as a source of home heating,206 the cost of the main alternatives to wood (i.e. electricity and gas) have risen steeply in recent years and can be expected to continue to rise.207 Such rises may create pressure on households to return to open fires or wood heaters for domestic heating. Should that occur, the quality of indoor air in those homes can be expected to be adversely affected, since any form of fuel burning in a dwelling has been shown to be positively correlated with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5.154

Similarly, increasing concern over heating efficiency and loss of heat through poorly fitting fixtures, such as doors and windows, is likely to lead to better home sealing to prevent loss of heat during winter and cool air in summer. If ventilation is reduced in this way, levels of indoor pollutants can be expected to rise.

Assessment summary 3.10—current and emerging risks to Australia’s atmosphere
  Catastrophic Major Moderate Minor Insignificant
Almost certain         Not considered
Likely         Not considered
Possible    
  • Increased deaths
    and illness associated
    with air pollution
    from growing motor
    vehicle fleet
  • Adverse health
    impacts due to
    increased ground-level
    ozone linked to rising
    temperatures
  • Deterioration of
    indoor air quality due
    to better sealing of
    buildings
  Not considered
Unlikely    
  • Localised impacts on health and amenity due to increased air pollution from commercial and domestic sources
  • Localised impacts on health and amenity due to increased air pollution from industry
  • Delayed recovery of stratospheric ozone layer, leading to a slowdown in expected reduction in skin cancer rates
  Not considered
Rare Not considered Not considered Not considered Not considered Not considered
 Not considered

Note: Timeframes are within the next 50 years (stratospheric ozone) and within the next 20 years (urban air quality).

Explanation of terms:
Almost certain - >: 90% probability of occurring during the specified timeframe
Likely - >: 66% - ≤90% probability of occurring during the specified timeframe
Possible - >: 33% - ≤66% probability of occurring during the specified timeframe
Unlikely - >: 10% - ≤33% probability of occurring during the specified timeframe

(2011). Ambient air quality: Indoor air quality. In: Australia state of the environment 2011, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/ambient-air-quality/topic/indoor-air-quality-1, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65c70bc372