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There is a multitude of hazardous compound that can be present in the indoor environment. Some of them have been put into buildings during initial construction, some have beene introduced later by the user and occupants and some enter from the outside environment.
We can perform sampling and analysis of some of the most potent carcinogenic and toxic chemical encountered in the indoor environment. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polyromatic hydrocarbons (PHAs) are only some of the more specialised group of chemicals we can monitor for. All of these chemical compounds are considered to be potential human carcinogens.
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Many of these highly toxic compounds are present in the construction materials and enclosed in the building envelope others are only release during intentional fire (fireplaces) or unintentional fire disasters.
The main sources of PCB's in buildings are joining materials, defective electrical components, flame retardant containing paints and varnishes, plasticizers and some oil used in concrete production.
The main sources of PCDDs/PCDFs in indoor air are impurities in wood preservatives containing pentachlorophenol (PCP) and emissions from fires involving chlorinated products. In the case of fire, chlorine-containing organic materials, e.g. electric cable sheathing, floor coverings, and PVC door and window frames give rise to PCDDs/PCDFs bound to soot and other particles, which deposit on surfaces and, if not cleaned off, are a continual source of pollution in the indoor air.
The major origin of PAHs indoors is from combustion processes (mostly tobacco smoke and smoke from open fires)... The best known example is cigarette smoking. However, chimneys that do not draw properly or candles burning with a sooty flame can give rise to measurable amounts of PAHs. They can also be released by pitch-containing materials used in interior construction work.