Xylenes in your home

Xylene is an aromatic hydrocarbon with 3 different forms. The terms xylene and xylenes can be used interchangeably. Learn about sources of xylene, its health effects and how to lower your exposure in your home.

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Sources of xylenes in indoor air

Xylene is a pollutant found in indoor and outdoor air. Levels of xylenes are generally higher indoors than outdoors.

Indoors, xylenes come from:

Outdoors, xylenes come mainly from:

Health effects of xylenes

Exposure to xylenes can cause:

Long-term exposure to xylenes may cause impaired motor coordination.

How to lower your exposure to xylenes in your home

You can lower your exposure to xylenes indoors by increasing ventilation and controlling for sources of xylenes.

You can increase ventilation by:

You can control indoor sources of xylenes by:

Exposure limits for xylenes in your home in Canada

We developed short-term and long-term exposure limits for xylenes in indoor air based on:

The short-term (one-hour) exposure limit for all 3 forms of xylenes is 7 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3). The long-term exposure limit for all 3 forms of xylenes (based on a 24-hour average) is 150 µg/m3.

These exposure limits protect the health of people in Canada, including those most susceptible to the effects of xylenes.

The recommended exposure limits allow public health officials and other professionals to assess the risk from indoor air pollutants.

Xylenes exposure limits in other countries

Other countries and organizations have established short-term exposure limits for xylenes that differ from Canada's short-term exposure limit (7 200 µg/m3). There are various reasons for this difference, including using older scientific data.

Examples of short-term exposure limits include:

Canada's long-term exposure limit (150 µg/m3) is comparable to limits established by other countries and organizations.

Examples of long-term exposure limits include:

Related information

Residential indoor air quality guidelines (RIAQG) for xylenes

If you have questions about the guidelines for xylenes in indoor air, you can contact us at:

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