PM2.5 concentrations were measured in residential indoor environment in slums of central India during 2012–2013. In addition, a suite of chemical components including metals (Al, K, Ca, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Pb, Mo, Se, Sb, Na, Mg, K and Hg), ions (Na+, Mg2+, K+, Ca2+, F−, Cl−, NH4+, NO3− and SO42−) and carbon (OC and EC) were analyzed for all samples. Indoor PM2.5 concentrations were found to be several folds higher than the 24-h national ambient air quality standard (60 µg/m3) for PM2.5 in India, and the concentrations were found to vary from season to season. Mass closure was attempted for PM2.5 data, and close to 100 % mass was accounted for by organic matter, crustal material, secondary organic and inorganic aerosols and elemental carbon. Additionally, carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health risks associated with exposure to indoor PM2.5 (inhalation, dermal and ingestion) were estimated and while exposures associated with dermal contact and ingestion were found to be within the acceptable limits, risk associated with inhalation exposure was found to be high for children and adults. Elements including Al, Cd, Co, Cr, Mn, Ni, As and Pb were present in high concentrations and contributed to carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks for residents’ health. Results from this study highlight the need for efforts to reduce air pollution exposure in slum areas.