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Association between human health and indoor air pollution in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries: a review

  • Patrick Amoatey , Hamid Omidvarborna , Mahad Said Baawain EMAIL logo , Abdullah Al-Mamun , Aynul Bari and Warren B. Kindzierski


Studies on the assessment of indoor air pollutants in terms of concentration and characterization in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been recently carried out. This review assesses the health effects associated with indoor air pollution exposures in GCC, including other air pollutants (siloxanes, flame retardants, synthetic phenolic antioxidants) which were not explored in a previous study. In addition, the influence of ventilation conditions due to different indoor environments was also investigated. It was revealed that there is a lack of human health assessment studies on most indoor air pollutants in almost all GCC countries, except the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where few attempts were made for some specific pollutants. Commonly reported plausible health effects potentially associated with indoor air pollution were related to respiratory symptoms and sick building syndrome (SBS). Many of the current health assessment studies in GCC countries were based on predictions and/or estimates of exposures rather than clinically based observational studies. Measured ventilation levels and indoor air velocities in most buildings failed to meet the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) threshold limits of 8 L/s/p and 0.18–0.25 m/s, respectively. Additionally, limited studies have investigated respiratory symptoms and SBS potentially attributable to poor ventilation in the region. It is highly recommended that future indoor air quality (IAQ) studies in GCC should focus more on epidemiologic and intervention studies.





American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers






Brominated diphenyl ethers


Brominated diphenyl ethers congener 99




Bisphenol A


1,2-bis (2,4,6-tribromphenoxy) ethane


Cubic feet per minute


Carbon monoxide


Carbon dioxide


Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases




Dodecyl gallate


Estimated median daily intake


Flame retardant


Gulf Cooperation Council


Hydrogen sulfide




Health risk assessment


Indoor air quality


International Agency for Research on Cancer


International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Limit of quantification


Nitrogen dioxide


Nitrogen oxides


National Toxicology Program


Octyl gallate


Odds ratio


Occupational Safety and Health Administration


Polyaromatic hydrocarbons


Polybrominated diphenyl ether


Organophospahte flame retardants


Propyl gallate


Particulate matter


Particulate matter (with aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm)


Particulate matter (with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 μm)


Reference dose


Sick building syndrome


School Health Registry


Synthetic phenolic antioxidants


Sulfur dioxide


Tetrabromobisphenol A


Total cyclic siloxanes






Total linear siloxanes


Total siloxane


Total suspended particulate


Total volatile organic compound


United Arab Emirates


United States Environmental Protection Agency


Volatile organic compounds


World Health Organization




Polychlorinated biphenyls

Definition of units

Becquerel per cubic meter


cubic feet per minute




Liter per second


Liter per second per person


Milligram per cubic meter


Meter per seconds


Nanogram per gram


Nanogram per kilogram bodyweight per day


Parts per billion


Parts per million


Microgram of lead per decimeter of blood


Microgram per gram

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Conflict of interest: The authors declare no potential conflict of interest.

  3. Informed consent: Not applicable.

  4. Ethical approval: Not applicable.


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Received: 2019-09-16
Accepted: 2019-12-08
Published Online: 2020-02-12
Published in Print: 2020-06-25

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