Skip to main content
  • The Interaction Between Environmental Pollution and Cultural Heritage: From Outdoor to Indoor
  • Published:

Effects of air pollution on monumental buildings in India: An overview


Recent advancements in environmental monitoring and analysis have created public and institutional awareness on the social and health impacts of air pollution at public places of tourists’ attraction. Monuments stand as the celebrated remnants of bygone representations in the social and cultural tradition of any civilised state. India, being one of the oldest and live civilisations, owns numerous places of historical evidences in the form of both constructed museums and living monuments such as temples and palaces. Continuous exposure to the emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants has made remarkable evidences of damage to the artefacts and monumental structures located in major cities of the world. The aim of this study is to present an overview of the scientific attempts pertaining to the evaluation of impacts of air pollution and other meteorological changes on the historical monuments in India in the context of the global scenario. It is observed that seasonal fluctuations in the outdoor climate and increased human activities in the vicinity of the museums have plausible impacts on the immediate changes in the indoor air quality. The variations in the outdoor air quality are greatly affected by the traffic emissions and industrial emissions, while the indoor air quality is mostly affected by the improper ventilation and lack of proper control measures. The study provides strategies for developing air quality standards for museum environment and proposes a few technical and administrative solutions to improve the air quality for indoor museums as well as outdoor monuments.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  1. Agelakopoulou T, Metaxa E, Karagianni C-S, Roubani-Kalantzopoulou F (2009) Air pollution effect of SO2 and/or aliphatic hydrocarbons on marble statues in archaeological museums. J Hazard Mater 169(1-3):182–189

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Appelbaum B (1991) Guide to environmental protection of collections. Sound View Press, Madison

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bachmann K (1992) Conservation concerns. A guide for collectors and curators. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bajpai R, Upreti DK, Dwivedi SK (2009) Arsenic accumulation in lichens of Mandav monuments, Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh, India. Environ Monit Assess 159:437–442.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bhargav JS, Mishra RC, Das CR (1999) Environmental deterioration of stone monuments of Bhubaneswar, the temple city of India. Stud Conserv 44:1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Blades N, Oreszczyn T, Bordass B, Cassar M (2000) Guidelines on pollution control in museum buildings. Museum Practice, Museums Association, London

    Google Scholar 

  7. Camuffo D, Brinblecombe P, Grieken RV, Busse H-J, Sturaro G, Valentino A, Bernardi A, Blades N, Shooter D, Bock DL, Gysels K, Wieser M, Kim O (1999) Indoor air quality at the Correr museum, Venice, Italy. Sci Total Environ 236:135–152

  8. Camuffo D, Grieken RV, Busse HJ, Sturaro G, Valentino A, Bernardi A, Blades A, Shooter D, Gyssels K, Deutsch F, Weiser M, Kim O, Ulrych U (2001) Environmental monitoring in four European museums. Atmos Environ 35(1):127–140

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cassar M (1995) Environmental management, guidelines for museums and galleries. Museums and Galleries Commission, Routlege Publications

  10. Cincinelli A, Martellini T, Amore A, Dei L, Marrazza G, Carretti E, Belosi F, Ravegnani F, Leva P (2016) Measurement of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in libraries and archives in Florence (Italy). Sci Total Environ 572:333–339

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Goel A, Wathore R, Chakraborty T, Agrawal M (2017) Characteristics of exposure to particles due to incense burning inside temples in Kanpur, India. Aerosol Air Qual Res 17:608–615.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Grzywacz (2006) Monitoring for gaseous pollutants in museum environments. Getty Publications, Los Angeles, California, USA, 188 p.

  13. Hu F, Jia W, Cao J, Huang R, Li H, Liu S, Ma T, Zhu Y (2015) Indoor air quality at five site museums of Yangtze river civilisation. Atmos Environ 123:449–454

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Jain KK, Mishra A K (1993) Effect of atmospheric pollution on monuments and historic buildings. Souvenir 340–352

  15. Jean T (2000) Standards for levels of indoor pollutants in museums, indoor air quality in museums and archives, Canadian Conservation Institute, April 25th, 2000

  16. Lal Gauri K, Holdren GC Jr (1981) Pollutants effect on stone monuments. Environ Sci Technol 15(4):386–390.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Lee SB, Bogaard J, Feller RL (1989a) Damaging effects of visible and near-ultraviolet radiation on paper. In: Zeronian H, Needles HL (eds) Historic textile and paper materials II: conservation and characterization. American Chemical Society Symposium Series no. 410. ACS, Washington, DC, pp 54–62

  18. Lee SB, Bogaard J, Feller RL (1989b) Darkening of paper following exposure to visible and near-ultraviolet radiation. J Am Inst Conserv 28:1–8

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Ligocki MP, Salmon LG, Fall T, Jones MC, Nazaroff WW, Cass GR (1993) Characteristics of airborne particles inside southern California museums. Atmos Environ 27(5):697–711

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Mašková L, Smolik J, Ondracek J, Ondrackova L, Travnickova T, Havlica J (2020) Air quality in archives housed in historic buildings: assessment of concentration of indoor particles of outdoor origin. Build Envion 180:107024

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Metallo MC, Poli AA, Diana M, Persia F, Cirillo MC (1995) Air pollution loads on historical monuments: an air quality model application to the marble arch of Titus in Rome. Sci Total Environ 171:163–172

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Pavlogeorgatos G (2003) Preservation of material cultural heritage. Thessaloniki, Greece: Paratiritis Publishing House S.A, (in Modern Greek)

  23. Reddy MK, Suneela M, Sumathi M, Reddy RC (2005) Indoor air quality at Salarjung museum, Hyderabad, India. Environ Monit Assess 105:359–367.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Scottish Museums Council (1994) Fact sheet – the effect of storage and display materials on museum objects, Scottish Museums Council

  25. Sharif-Askari H, Abu-Hijleh B (2018) Review of museums’ indoor environment conditions studies and guidelines and their impact on the museums’ artifacts and energy consumption. Build Environ 143:186–195

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Sharma JS, Sharma DN (1982) Atmospheric contamination of archaeological monuments in the Agra Region (India). Sci Total Environ 23:31–40.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Śmielowska M, Marc M, Zabiegala B (2017) Indoor air quality in public utility environments- a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24(12):11166–11176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Stratis J (1992) Influence of the environment on the archaeological items and monuments. Monument & Environment, vol. 1. Paratiritis Publishing House S.A., p. 81–8 (in Modern Greek)

  29. Themistocleous K, Nisantzi A, Agapiou A, Alexakis DD, Hadjimitsis DG, Lysandrou V, Perdikou S, Retalis A, Chrusoulakis N (2012) Long term monitoring of air pollution on monuments and cultural heritage sites in Cyprus using satellite remote sensing. Int J Herit Digit Era 1(1):145–167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Venkata Rao N, Rajasekhar M, Rao CG (2014) Detrimental effect of air pollution, corrosion on building materials and historical structures. Am J Eng Res 3(3):359–364

    Google Scholar 

  31. Zorpas AA, Skouroupatis A (2016) Indoor air quality evaluation of two museums in a subtropical climate conditions. Sustain Cities Soc 20:52–60

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable

Author information




NN contributed in the collection of literature and in writing, MV in writing and reviewing the manuscript, SD and PB in preparation of tables and SSN in the writing. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Narayanan Natarajan.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable

Consent for publication

Not applicable

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Responsible Editor: Michel Sablier

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Natarajan, N., Vasudevan, M., Dineshkumar, S.K. et al. Effects of air pollution on monumental buildings in India: An overview. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021).

Download citation


  • Air quality
  • Museums
  • Indoor air pollution
  • Outdoor air pollution
  • Buildings and environment