In the last several years, there is growing scientific evidence that indicates the air within our homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor pollutant levels may be two to five times higher than they are outdoors! How can this be you ask? There are many things that contribute to poor air quality in your home. Here are some examples of common indoor air contaminants and their main sources:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2), tobacco smoke, perfume, body odours – from building occupants
- Dust, fiberglass, asbestos, gases, including formaldehyde – from building materials
- Toxic vapours, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – from workplace cleansers, solvents, pesticides, disinfectants, glues
- Gases, vapours, odours – off-gas emissions from furniture, carpets and paints
- Dust mites – from carpets, fabric, moulds
- Bacteria – from damp areas, stagnant water and condensate pans
- Ozone – from photocopiers, electric motors, electrostatic air cleaners
Indoor air contaminates can cause a wide range of health risks that may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later. Immediate symptoms such as irritated eyes, nose and throat, headaches, asthma and hypersensitivity could be related to indoor air contaminates. Other health issues like some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer may show up years after exposure or after long or repeated periods of exposure.
Clean air both indoor and outdoors is essential for good health. While we may not be able to control the air we breathe outdoors, there are steps we can take to improve our indoor air quality. Here are a few things you can implement to ensure cleaner air indoors:
- don’t smoke indoors
- make sure fireplaces and woodstoves are in good working condition. Keep your chimney clean and clear of obstruction
- don’t idle cards or other gas powered equipment in attached garages or near doors or windows
- research the products and furniture you buy: purchase furniture that doesn’t release formaldehyde and other toxins; use paints, finishes and cleaning products that don’t emit toxins
- make sure fuel-burning appliances, like furnaces, fireplaces and gas stoves are well maintained and working properly
- have a professional inspect appliances and clean chimney’s at least once a year
- control humidity and thoroughly repair any water damage in your home to prevent mould growth. Thoroughly clean any visible or concealed mould growing in your home
- ensure your home is properly ventilated, use exhaust fans in the bath and kitchen and attic
- open your windows to circulate fresh air into your home
- regularly vaccum clean your floors and carpets
The key is reducing the amount of contaminants taken into the body. This can be done by reducing the number of particles in the air. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration is a standard developed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and is used to remove microscopic particles from the air. To pass this standard, a filter must be 99.97% efficient @ 0.3 microns. Due to their extremely high efficiency, HEPA filters have become widely used in medical, electronic and industrial applications. HEPA filtration in the home will reduce the number of contaminates in the home. This can be achieved with smaller portable air purifiers to installing a whole home air filtration system.
Steps can be made to clean the air in your home and ensure better health for you and your family. Not sure what the best option is for your home? Contact us and let us know your concerns and needs. We can recommend the best options for you.