Ever Consider the Chimney is Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality?

Old homes can have many charming features – carved wood, old fixtures, fireplaces. But a beautiful old wood burning fireplace or stove can have a serious affect on your indoor air quality if it’s not kept clean and in good repair. Continue reading

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Lead Paint in Your Home is Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality

A fresh coat of paint can be just the thing to liven up a room, and is often a quick, and easy, way of making a change in your home or business. If you live in a century home and are considering repainting, there are a few key things to keep in mind to make sure you maintain a high standard of indoor air quality both before, during, and after painting. Continue reading

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Finding Asbestos During Your Home Renovations | Safe Air

When moving into or renovating an old home, keeping your indoor air quality free of contaminants is an important, and often forgotten, step of the construction process. Your indoor air quality isn’t just affected by dust, paint, or sealants, but can be very seriously affected by the materials used in construction itself. Many older homes and buildings were constructed when indoor air quality wasn’t a concern, and materials that are no longer approved for use may be polluting your indoor air quality. While lead pipes or knob-and-tube wiring can cause other serious problems, they don’t affect your indoor air quality. But asbestos does, and many older homes have it hiding all over the place. Continue reading

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Spring Cleaning? Care for your Indoor Air Quality too

Spring is a great time for freshening up your home; giving everything a deep clean, doing repairs, and maybe retouching a wall or two – there’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to liven up a room. Spring is also a great time to be thinking about your indoor air quality, and many of these spring activities, especially room painting, can have a hidden effect on your indoor air quality.

One of the most common culprits of poor indoor air quality are the chemicals we use in and around our homes. One of the most obvious ways our indoor air quality can be compromised is through aerosol sprays, scented cleaning agents, and room fragrances. There is a growing number of people who have bad reactions to the artificial scents and chemical agents released into our indoor air quality through products like these. That misty mountain air freshener might be doing more than boosting you morale or making your home feel fresher – it could be releasing chemicals like formaldehyde or petroleum by-products which affect your indoor air quality and ultimately your health.

A 2015 study in England found that plug-in air fresheners were producing “considerable” levels of formaldehyde that were affecting indoor air quality and home environments. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, and is linked to cancer of the nose and throat – the very organs sensitive to changes in your indoor air quality. These fresheners will also affect people living with asthma or other chronic lung conditions, making them more of a danger to your indoor air quality and health than they are a help.

The scents coming from air fresheners and cleaning products are likely to be Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. These are substances form vapor or gas at room temperature and are known to cause indoor air quality problems.

What about that fresh coat of paint in the living room? Commercial home and outdoor paint can be full of harmful VOCs that will affect your indoor air quality. Some, like formaldehyde, are used to help things dry quickly, while others are used to keep it from freezing, or to produce other desirable effects. You’ve experienced off-gassing paint before – that noxious chemical smell affects your indoor air quality for a number of days as the paint settles. But paint emissions can continue to affect your indoor air quality for years – and air flow, which you might think helps to clear any smells, can actually speed up the release of VOCs.

Choosing a bio-based or low VOC paint can help keep your indoor air quality at a high level while walls or objects dry, and keep you and your family’s health safe. Your indoor air quality is improved with these products because they generally contain less volatile VOCs, and more natural materials, minerals, and dyes than commercial products. The extra cost associated with these products will prove invaluable for those with health concerns around their indoor air quality.

As with anything, make sure you do your research before purchasing any products for use around your home this spring. Spring cleaning shouldn’t mean you need to compromise your indoor air quality!

 

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Poor Indoor Air Quality – Air Being The Operative Word

It’s all around us – air. Comprised of nitrogen and oxygen and other trace gases, our atmosphere keeps us going, circulates weather, and transmits sounds and smells. But bad air, and therefore bad indoor air quality, is an increasingly dark part of the world we live in. One figure suggests that over 10,000 deaths worldwide occur every 24 hours because of poor indoor air quality and other negative factors in our environments. Unlike natural disasters, poor indoor air quality and pollution don’t come in with a bang – it affects you slowly, over years. As it can often be invisible, it can be ignored by policy makers and the media.  Continue reading

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New Study Finds Radon Gas Affecting The Indoor Air Quality of 1 in 8 Calgary Homes

We generally think of things that affect our indoor air quality as coming from outside or inside our home. Outdoor factors that affect our indoor air quality include pollen, exhaust, or other industrial emissions. Indoor factors, like a poorly functioning HVAC system, smoking, or cleaning materials can all contribute to poor indoor air quality. A recent study from the University of Calgary points out a growing indoor air quality concern in the form of a colourless, odourless gas known as radon.      radon gas chemistry poor air quality

Radon gas is released from the radioactive decay of radium, uranium, or thorium in soil and bedrock deep underground. It occurs naturally in the environment all around Canada. Your indoor air quality is affected as the gas is released – your home acts like a chimney for fumes that would otherwise be released into the environment. Radon gas most frequently collects in the lower levels of your home with inadequate ventilation, such as the basement, where it has a silent, but deadly effect on your indoor air quality.

Radon gas and your indoor air quality should concern you – it is the second highest cause of lung cancer in Canada after smoking. Radon decays quickly and puts small, radioactive particles into the air. When these are inhaled, they damage the cells that line your lungs. Long term exposure to these radon particles can lead to the development of lung cancer.

One surprising result of the study was that newer homes were found with 31% higher radon in their indoor air quality. One reason for this finding is that homes 25 years old or younger are both larger and more airtight than before. Your indoor air quality can become saturated with radon because these bigger, taller homes have more surface area to ‘call’ radon. As the air in your home warms, it creates a kind of negative pressure in the basement which has a tug on the foundation. If radon lurks underneath, it is pulled through any cracks or holes in your foundation where it can then affect your indoor air quality. Modern homes are also more airtight, making your indoor air quality systems, like your HVAC or air intake, important to keep in good repair.

If it’s colourless and odourless, how can you know if radon is affecting your indoor air quality and the health of your family? In the study, which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, radon was found affecting the indoor air quality in over 2300 homes in the Calgary areas – that’s 1 in 8 homes, making this a common problem. The good news is that it is easy to test for radon that may be affecting your health and indoor air quality. Have a trained indoor air quality technician visit your home or business and test for radon and other factors that could be having a negative impact on your health. The World Health Organization recommends that acceptable levels of radon in your indoor air quality be 100 Bq/m3, but in Canada there are no rules requiring testing, which would ensure more people were living in homes with safe indoor air quality. While there are areas in Canada which have higher occurrences of homes with radon found in their indoor air quality, the only way to be sure of levels in your home is to be tested – often homes right next door to each other can have very different indoor radon levels, making mapping and tracking of this problem difficult. Radon testing of your indoor air quality usually takes between 7-90 days, as radon can vary from day to day or month to month.

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Does cleaning with green products actually help improve your indoor air quality?

 

In recent years a green wave has overtaken our stores: you can get environmentally friendly soap and disinfectants almost everywhere. You may believe they help keep your indoor air quality at a high level, and that they help reduce your exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) or other bad chemicals, but it’s important to be informed beyond the marketing schtick. Continue reading

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Allergens Have Sprung In Spring

Your indoor air quality is effected by factors both inside and outside of your home or business. Inside your home, indoor air quality culprits, like chemicals, volatile organic compounds, or moulds can be fixed or controlled, but outdoor causes of poor indoor air quality – such as allergens – are something we’re often at the mercy of.

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Your Business’s Indoor Air Quality in Toronto

The level of outdoor pollution is a growing concern in cities around the globe. But our indoor air quality can have just as big an affect as does the outdoors. Household indoor air quality is usually the focus – protecting our elders, children and family members from the toxic effects of VOCs or mould growth is at the top of many minds. But if you’re a business owner, you should also consider the effect that the indoor air quality of your office or store has on your employees and customers.

A recent study found that the indoor air quality of retail stores is often worse when outdoor air pollution is high. Looking to identify culprits in poor indoor air quality, the authors of this review looked at online databases and studies related to indoor air quality at retail stores around the world. Three factors they focused on as having a great effect on indoor air quality were air filtration, ventilation, and VOCs.business indoor air quality

Air filtration seems like an obvious part of having good indoor air quality, but filters need regular maintenance – installing one once and forgetting about it will decrease the efficacy of your system and eventually cause poor indoor air quality as it gets clogged with contaminants. Having your air filter changed regularly and the system tested and repaired if necessary will have a positive effect on your indoor air quality.

Filtration is just part of the indoor air quality system – ventilation is its close sibling. Ventilation is more than just moving air around or bringing new air in, and poor ventilation can cause many indoor air quality issues. Ventilation is a combination of processes: bringing in new air, conditioning that air (such as through filtration), distributing that air, and then exhausting it outside again. If one part of this chain is broken, your indoor air quality may suffer as a result. One potential indoor air quality issue that could arise from a faulty ventilation system is an accumulation of carbon dioxide gas, which may cause people to become drowsy or have headaches.

The review found that retail shops and offices (especially those with frequently opening and closing outside doors) had poorer indoor air quality than restaurants and hospitals, where exhaust fans helped keep indoor air quality at a high level.

VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are organic chemicals that vaporize at room temperature, thereby affecting your indoor air quality as they are released into your indoor atmosphere. New office furniture, ceiling tiles, or even the photocopier can off-gas VOCs into your office environment, and these pollutants collect and can have a huge effect on your indoor air quality and the health and productivity of your employees and customers.

If you suspect that something isn’t right with the indoor air quality of your business, it’s important to have a professional visit and test your site. They can help identify problems and offer solutions to improve your indoor air quality, whether it be airflow patterns, ventilation, or a dirty furnace. While there are no umbrella laws in Canada that deal with indoor air quality in your business, there is, however, a clause common to all occupational health and safety legislation that states that an employer must provide a safe and healthy workplace – which includes your indoor air quality! Ventilation is a key part of many building codes, and if you’re worried about your business’s indoor air quality, the building code should provide you with a set of guidelines and criteria to help you reach an acceptable standard.

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House Plants, NASA, And Your Indoor Air Quality

Your indoor air quality can be affected by many things both inside – such as house plants – and outside of your environment, and when it becomes poor, your indoor air quality can have a serious effect on your health. Indoor air pollution is currently a hot topic, though not a new one; since the late 1970s people have been studying, testing and improving indoor air quality at home and at our businesses. As our buildings get more tightly sealed, they protect us from the bad things outside, but sometimes it’s what is already inside that can be causing indoor air quality issues.

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