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Top 10 Things Affecting Your Air Quality

Posted in Air Quality, on October 11, 2019

We’re all familiar with outdoor air quality problems like smog warnings, smoke from forest fires, and industry pollution - but lesser known, and perhaps more important to our everyday and long term health, is indoor air quality pollution. SafeAir’s air quality testing in Toronto can help you determine the chemical make-up of your home or business’s indoor air quality and assist you in making technology-based improvements to your indoor environment. 

The Health Risks

Poor indoor air quality has a number of serious health affects caused by both long and short term exposure. Air quality can affect a number of different parts and functions of the body, and the symptoms may mimic other common illnesses like the cold or flu, making it hard to identify. Some of the most frequent symptoms experienced by our clients include: 

  • Itchy, watery eyes: Airborne particles or vaporized gases can easily affect the soft tissue of the eyeballs
  • Nasal congestion: Our noses help to filter the air we breathe and protect the lungs - in poor air quality situations, the nose is often first to be affected. 
  • Headache: This common allergic response can be triggered by dust, allergens, scents, and more. 
  • Skin issues: The skin is our largest organ and is greatly affected by indoor air quality. Dry, itchy, or inflamed skin can all be symptoms of air pollution. 

While these symptoms may range from mildly annoying to severe, there are other, more insidious effect of indoor air pollution that can take years to fully realize. When it comes to asbestos, for example, damage caused by this once-common household material may not become evident until decades after exposure. Radon gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer, is similar. The youngest and oldest members of our families, as well as those affected by chronic lung conditions like asthma or COPD, are also at greater risk for complications.

Factors Affecting your Air Quality

There are a number of common problems or situations that affect the air quality of many homes in Toronto and the GTA. When it comes to improving your indoor air quality, knowing what sort of risk factors you may have present in your home is the first step. What many DIY changes can really improve indoor air quality, professional air quality testing in Toronto can help you determine what specific issues you may face and how to make lasting changes to the health and safety of your home. The ten most common factors that affect indoor air quality are:

  1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These chemicals become airborne when at room temperature - the scent of a freshly peeled orange is a good example. But unlike oranges, many VOCs can have harmful effects on our health, and can be found in many common cleaning products, solvents, glues, paints, and more. 
  2. Carbon Monoxide: This gas has no colour or odour, and can be generated indoors by fuel-burning appliances like your furnace. Sadly, carbon monoxide poisoning and deaths are very common, especially during the winter months, and can be easily avoided by using equipment safely and installing a carbon monoxide detector. 
  3. Allergens: Dust is one of the most common allergens in the world, but pollen, pet dander, and other natural substances that gather and collect in our homes can all cause allergic reactions. A HEPA air filter can help to reduce dust levels in your home, and air quality testing in Toronto can help to determine the exact source and helping you eliminate or mitigate its effects. 
  4. Excess Moisture: Humid environments can cause indoor air pollutants to stick around and promote mould and bacterial growth. 
  5. Poor Ventilation: It sounds too obvious to be making the list, but a lack of fresh air is actually a very common indoor air quality problem. Whether it’s through accident or building design, inadequate ventilation can be the cause of poor health as well as exacerbate other problems. 
  6. Asbestos: Commonly used until the 90s, asbestos was once known as the ‘miracle mineral.’ Now known to cause a rare kind of cancer and irreversible lung damage, it’s treated the same way as toxic waste, and should be neutralized or removed if you suspect its presence in your home. 
  7. Radon Gas: Caused by the natural breakdown of uranium deep within the earth, this colourless and odourless gas can enter your home through cracks in the foundation and build up to dangerous levels. 
  8. Air Fresheners and Scent: More and more workplaces have scent free policies for a good reason - many people are negatively affected by the chemical make-up of scented products like perfume, cologne, air fresheners, scented candles and more. Removing them can improve indoor air quality and make your home or office a healthier and more productive environment. 
  9. Lead Paint: Many older homes may still contain lead paint, which, as it gets old, may flake or chip off. Lead dust is easily inhaled and can cause serious life long health problems. 
  10. Outdoor Sources: What’s happening around our home can also have a big effect on its indoor environment. Local industry, pesticides, road traffic, and many other events that happen in both rural and urban environments can have a negative impact on your indoor air quality. 

What you can do

Knowledge is power - while this short list gives some of the most common issues affecting SafeAir clients, there are many other factors that can compromise indoor air quality and its safety. If any of these factors sound familiar, air quality testing in Toronto can help you get to the bottom of it. SafeAir has fifteen years of helping families and businesses in Toronto and the GTA improve indoor air quality and offers a variety of services tailored to your individual needs. Our testing is all performed at a third part laboratory to provide objective, science-based results. For more information about indoor air quality testing in Toronto, please visit us online or by phone at 416-414-5690

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