Acrolein in your home
Acrolein is a colourless or yellow liquid that very quickly changes to a vapour when heated. It has an unpleasant smell at high concentrations.
Learn about sources of acrolein, its health effects and how to lower your exposure in your home.
On this page
- Sources of acrolein in indoor air
- Health effects of acrolein
- How to lower your exposure to acrolein in your home
- Exposure limits for acrolein in indoor air in Canada
- Acrolein exposure limits in other countries
- Related information
Sources of acrolein in indoor air
Acrolein is a pollutant found in indoor and outdoor air. Levels of acrolein are generally higher indoors than outdoors.
Indoors, acrolein comes from:
- burning incense
- cooking with oils
- using gas stoves
- wood-burning fireplaces
Outdoors, acrolein comes mainly from:
- forest fires
- exhaust from motor vehicles such as:
Health effects of acrolein
Breathing air that contains high levels of acrolein may cause irritation to your nose, throat and respiratory tract. Acrolein in the air may also irritate your eyes.
How to lower your exposure to acrolein in your home
You can lower levels of acrolein indoors by increasing ventilation and controlling the sources of acrolein.
You can increase ventilation by:
opening windows when possible
- check the outdoor air quality conditions in your region before opening windows: Air Quality Health Index
- using mechanical ventilation strategies. You can find more information on how to use both natural and mechanical ventilation to improve indoor air quality.
You can control indoor sources of acrolein by:
- not smoking indoors
- not burning candles or incense inside the home
- ensuring proper ventilation to the outside during use of combustion
appliances such as:
- gas stoves
- using a range hood exhaust fan with outside venting, preferably on the
high setting, when cooking, especially with oils
- if no range hood exhaust fan is available, opening windows or running the fan in the furnace or ventilation system
- using back burners instead of front burners in addition to using a range hood exhaust fan when cooking
- decreasing VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels in the home to reduce
secondary formation of acrolein by:
- choosing low-emission products when possible
- opening windows to ensure good ventilation when using products such as:
- cleaning products
- minimizing the use of scented products such as plug-in or aerosol deodorizers (air fresheners)
We don’t recommend testing indoor air for acrolein because:
- it is difficult to measure acrolein
- the results are difficult to interpret
Exposure limits for acrolein in indoor air in Canada
We developed short-term and long-term exposure limits for acrolein in indoor air based on:
- acrolein sources
- the health effects
- exposure levels in Canadian homes
The short-term (one hour) exposure limit for acrolein is 38 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3). The long-term exposure limit (based on 24-hour average) is 0.44 µg/m3.
These exposure limits protect the health of Canadians including those most susceptible to the effects of acrolein such as:
- people with asthma
- people with chronic pulmonary disease or bronchitis
The recommended exposure limits allow public health officials and other professionals to assess the risk from indoor air pollutants.
Acrolein exposure limits in other countries
Other countries and organizations have established short-term exposure limits for acrolein that are different than Canada’s short-term exposure limit (38 µg/m3). There are various reasons for this difference, including using an older study.
Examples of short-term exposure limits include:
- France: 6.9 µg/m3
- California: 2.5 µg/m3
- United States (EPA): 70 µg/m3
Canada’s long-term exposure limit (0.44 µg/m3) is comparable to limits established by other countries and organizations.
Examples of long-term exposure limits include:
- France: 0.8 µg/m3
- California: 0.35 µg/m3
- United States (EPA): 0.2 µg/m3
- Residential Indoor Air Quality Guidelines (RIAQG) for Acrolein
- If you have questions about the guidelines for acrolein in indoor air,
you can contact us at:
- 1-833-223-1014 (toll free)
- Date modified: