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CleanAir Solutions Blog

September 2017

Hay Fever Season Is Here: How Fall Cleaning Can Safeguard Your Indoor Air Quality

fall allergies

As reported by CBC News, hay fever season arrives like clockwork four times per year. In the fall season, the main culprit causing hay fever symptoms is a plant called ragweed. This plant loves to make pollen and release it into the air.

Then the airborne pollen, which is packed full of allergy-causing proteins, can reach you pretty much anywhere you go.

Even worse, ragweed particularly likes to grow in what biologists call “distressed” soil, which is mostly found in cities. So if you live in a city environment and you are allergic to ragweed, you might feel like you are doomed.

However, there are many actions you can take to reduce your risk of breathing in ragweed pollen this fall. Read on to learn what to do now!

What You Are Up Against

According to Web MD, there are at least 17 different species of ragweed that grow in North America.

Each single plant can release up to 1 billion pollen spores during the fall bloom season. All that from just one plant!

As well, the fall bloom season itself is increasing due to rising temperatures and levels of carbon dioxide in the air. This means that each plant is now blooming more vigorously than ever before and for longer than ever before.

So now, instead of two months of allergic misery, you have three months (August through October).

Finally, ragweed pollen spores are unusually tiny and lightweight, meaning they can travel with even the merest breeze. And they have no problem traveling over large bodies of water like oceans and very high up into the atmosphere (here, think 400 miles across the sea and 2 miles up into the atmosphere).

So this is the opponent you are up against. But even with such daunting odds, you can do a lot to keep ragweed spores from reaching you.

Steps to Minimize Exposure to Ragweed

Did you know that the Weather Channel website publishes a daily pollen count for different areas? For example, in the Toronto area, you can visit the Weather website daily to see pollen counts for tree, grass, and ragweed pollens.

The website also offers a “breathing comfort” meter to warn you if the day ahead is forecasted as difficult for allergy and asthma sufferers. This can be a great tool for getting the jump on ragweed pollen!

From there, these are the steps to take to minimize your actual risk of inhaling or ingesting ragweed pollen spores:

1. Stay indoors on high ragweed pollen days

This is a good strategy for any day that delivers high ragweed pollen projections.

Here, the most critical hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., since these are the hours most likely to deliver the warm, humid growing conditions ragweed plants like best.

2. Change or clean your home, workplace, and auto air filters monthly

While fall is generally a time when you can let your guard down just a bit in terms of changing your air filters, for ragweed sufferers, this is the time to really ramp up your efforts.

If you have reusable air filters, clean them as often as weekly. For disposable filters, monthly is the longest you should wait between changes.

3. Leave your shoes and coat at the door and take a shower right away

Even as you walk from your car to your home, expect to pick up some ragweed pollen along the way. But when you come home at night, strive to bring as little of it as possible inside with you.

You can reduce the threat of inhaling indoors ragweed pollen by taking your shoes and coat off and leaving them by the door. Then you can head right to the shower to wash your skin and hair and remove any additional clinging pollen.

4. Always dry your clothes in the dryer and clean your dryer vents regularly

When you dry your clothes in the dryer instead of hanging them on the line outdoors, your dryer vents will suck up any clinging ragweed pollen during the dry cycle.

However, the good work of your dryer will depend on how often you clean out your dryer vents… and not just the front lint trap. Here, we are talking about the inaccessible interior vents that require professional dryer vent cleaning.

As a side bonus, fall is a great time to have your dryer vents professionally cleaned, since clogged dryer vents is one of the chief culprits of fall and winter home fires!

5. Clean out your indoor air ducts

Any ragweed pollen you don’t catch when you come indoors will eventually make its way up into your duct system, where it can get blown out into the rooms of your home repeatedly.

Cleaning out your indoor air ducts not only removes the most recent crop of ragweed pollen, but it also removes any ragweed pollen that has ever gotten trapped inside your vents, ever.

A professional indoor air duct cleaning is a one-day job that leaves your indoor air fresh and pure.

6. Install HEPA filters

Installing HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters is like bringing a cannon to a gunfight—you are guaranteed to win.

You can install portable (room) HEPA filters, use a HEPA-rated vacuum cleaner, upgrade to a HEPA-rated HVAC system, or install a whole home HEPA system that works with your existing HVAC combo.

Save 20 Percent on HEPA Filtration Now!

Our Breathe Clean Air Event can help you save 20 percent on whole home indoor air quality appliances, including a whole-home HEPA filtration system.

Call us at 905-544-2470 or complete this simple online form to claim your discount.

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Hidden Indoor Airborne Toxins & How to Get Rid of Them

hidden indoor air quality detective

Think back to the first time you learned that, on average, our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than the air outside. Or perhaps you are learning this for the first time right now.

From asbestos fibers to lead paint dust, chloroform from chlorinated water, and VOCs from DIY supplies, you may feel it is impossible to eradicate all the health hazards floating in your indoor air supply.

But we have good news: you can actually do a great deal to clean and purify your indoor air!

Intervention Versus Prevention

Both prevention and intervention are effective strategies for tackling the issue of toxic indoor air.

Prevention

When you know that most commercial household cleaning products contain terpenes, new plastics give off phthalates, and disinfectants emit phenols, you can research safer alternative products.

You can also research new household and office materials and appliances and select only those that pose minimal risk to you and others.

Intervention

Intervention should occur after a family member starts experiencing recurrent allergies or illness, or office workers begin complaining of headaches and fatigue after entering the building.

Sometimes it can also happen after reading an article like this one!

This is actually the most common introduction to toxic indoor air cleaning information, simply because so much of the research and data that addresses specific toxins can be difficult to access and understand.

Luckily, with the process we will describe here, you don’t need to be able to name all 586 chemicals known to regularly be present inside homes and offices.

What you do need to know is how to intervene to send those chemicals packing!

Airborne Toxins Be Gone

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we live by our “7 Steps to a Healthy Indoor Climate” credo.

These 7 steps are as follows.

1. Indoor air testing and analysis

Indoor air testing is the best method to determine which toxins in what concentrations exist inside your home or workplace, and which ones you need to be most concerned about.

The indoor air quality test takes 72 hours. It is completely silent and unobtrusive. You will receive the results in an easy-to-read print-out form that highlights areas of particular concern.

2. Indoor air duct cleaning

Many toxins that circulate freely through your indoor air are built up in greater quantities inside your air duct system. In most homes and offices, the indoor air duct network has never been cleaned, which can mean 5 or 10 or 20 years’ worth of debris is piled up inside the ducts.

A professional indoor air duct cleaning removes 100 percent of that debris in a single day, leaving nothing but clean, breathable air behind.

3. Indoor air filtration

Filtering your indoor air is a way to trap airborne particles that could irritate your tissues and damage your health. The most effective filtration systems capture the smallest airborne particles.

Currently, the HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration system is the gold standard. Even if you have an older HVAC unit or furnace, you can still use HEPA filtration by installing a compatible appliance that works directly with your air duct system to filter out airborne toxins as tiny as the width of a single human hair!

4. Indoor air purification

Whereas filtering your air will remove floating micro-particles, purification will neutralize them completely. Purification is a natural complement to filtration in that it addresses even smaller micro-particles that even HEPA filters cannot catch.

The most effective purifier to date is still ultraviolet (UV) light. As a bonus, U.V. air purifiers also neutralize odours, airborne viruses and bacteria, mildew and mould, fungi and parasites.

5. Indoor air humidification

Humidity, or lack thereof, is a favorite seasonal topic in Canada. Summer tends to be the hot, humid season in many parts of Canada, while winter often ushers in just the opposite.

On either extreme, allergies, asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and more serious illness can flourish. This is because the body needs access to a certain level of constant humidity (between 30 and 50 percent on any given day) to maintain its own internal healthy flora and fauna.

Too little humidity (less than 30 percent) and your respiratory tissues will dry out, giving germs and bacteria a ripe opportunity to penetrate your immune system’s defenses. Too much humidity (more than 50 percent) has the same effect for exactly the opposite reason.

The best way to maintain your health year-round is to install a system at home or work that can keep your indoor humidity within the healthy range. Humidifiers work well in the winter and dehumidifiers can be essential in the summer and during periods of heavy seasonal rain.

6. Whole home/office ventilation

Ventilation is one of the most critical components of maintaining healthy, balanced, oxygen-rich and breathable indoor air.

At the simplest level, ventilation can be accomplished by opening doors and windows on nice days. But on a consistent day-to-day basis, the best way to ensure adequate daily ventilation is to use a heat (energy) recovery ventilator.

This unique appliance separates stale outgoing air from fresh incoming air while simultaneously balancing humidity and aiding in temperature control.

7. Regular dryer vent/mattress cleaning

There are two more favorite hiding places for airborne pests, toxins, and chemicals. One is your mattress and the other is your clothes dryer.

By taking time to periodically have your mattresses and dryer vents professionally cleaned, you eradicate whole colonies of dust mites as well as bacteria, fungi, parasites, viral matter, and other germs.

Purify Your Indoor Air for 20 Percent Less!

Our Breathe Clean Air Event offers you 20 percent off the cost of any whole home HEPA filter, UV filter, heat recovery ventilator or humidification system.

Call us at 905-544-2470 or complete this simple online form to claim your discount!

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Breathe Cleaner, Fresher Air This Fall With These Timely Furnace Tips

fall indoor air quality

Just as you probably have a whole routine you follow each spring when it is time to take your air conditioner out of hibernation and put it back to work, so too is it great to have a set fall routine.

Following certain steps before you power on your furnace for the first time in the fall can similarly safeguard your wallet, your home, and your family’s health.

For starters, the more efficiently your furnace operates, the less you will spend on utilities costs during the winter season. Also, when you know your furnace is in good overall repair and is operating safely, you can ease your mind about potential fire.

Most importantly, a furnace that is in good repair and operating efficiently and effectively will also produce the cleanest, freshest indoor air. This last benefit goes beyond simple peace of mind or cost savings to ensure the best health and quality of life for you and your loved ones during the cold season.

In this article, we present our favourite timely fall furnace tips for keeping your indoor air supply clean, fresh and pure during fall and winter.

1. Change your furnace air filter at least monthly

CalendarWe have been in operation for many years now, and we have yet to meet anyone who thinks changing their furnace filter qualifies as “fun.”

But what can be fun is seeing your decreased utility bills when your furnace operates more efficiently because the air filter is clean.

It can also be quite fun to know you are not breathing in airborne toxins that have built up on your furnace air filter and gotten pushed back out into your indoor air supply.

2. Clean, dust, and vacuum your air registers and exhaust vents

Dirty air registers and exhaust vents can also cause toxic indoor air as well as illness.

Over time, it is quite common for these components to build up an extra layer of dust and debris. This is especially true for vent covers that open to the outdoors. In fact, birds, insects, and rodents often add their own debris when they decide these air vents will make a perfect winter shelter!

This can then become a fire hazard as well as an indoor air quality safety risk. You can use a vacuum with a HEPA-rated filter and an attachment nozzle to vacuum even small dust and particulate matter out of these air registers and vents periodically throughout the cold season.

3. Have your indoor air duct system professionally cleaned

The next time you go to clean your air registers and exhaust vents, notice how much dust and debris you are cleaning away that has built up since the last time you did this preventative maintenance.

Then try to recall the last time your indoor air duct system was cleaned out. If you are like so many homeowners today, you won’t have any idea when, or if, this service has ever been done!

Over the years, large quantities of dust, particulate matter, and debris can build up inside your air duct system. This is particularly true for any home that is 10 years old or older where there is no record of the air ducts ever having been professionally cleaned.

This would be similar to leaving your home for a 10-year vacation—how much dust do you think would be layering the counters and furnishings when you returned?

When you have your indoor air duct system professionally cleaned and sanitized, all of that built-up and forgotten dust and debris is securely removed in a way that ensures none of it re-enters your indoor air supply.

This is equivalent to hitting an indoor air quality “reset” button to purify and cleanse your entire indoor air supply!

4. Upgrade your furnace filter or filtration system

The key to upgrading your furnace filter is to match the filter with the furnace. For instance, a furnace with a low MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating will be able to take only an air filter with a matching rating.

You can find out what the MERV rating is for your particular furnace unit by consulting the manual or calling the manufacturer directly.

If you discover that your unit will not permit you to upgrade to a higher quality of furnace filter, you still have another option. You can install a whole-home HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration system.

This type of system can work with any furnace that is connected to a network of central ducts. The HEPA filtration system works externally to filter the air as it comes out of your furnace, ensuring even the smallest possible toxic airborne particles are filtered out before the air enters your ducts on its way to each room in your home.

5. Use a heat recovery ventilator (air exchanger) with your furnace

Another wonderful option to improve the quality of your indoor air supply is to install a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or air exchanger that works with your furnace to ensure that only the cleanest, purest air circulates throughout your home.

An HRV pushes out stale inside air using a completely separate channel from the one that draws in clean and well-oxygenated air. At the same time, it is effortlessly heat- and humidity-balancing your indoor air so you don’t deal with the health effects of too-dry or too-moist air during the cold season.

Save 20 Percent on All Indoor Air Quality Components

How would you like to save 20 percent on the cost of any whole home HEPA filter, whole home UV filtration system, heat recovery ventilator, or whole home humidifier?

Right now, when you take part in our Breathe Clean Air event, you can save on the components that will clean, purify, and oxygenate your indoor air for years to come!

To learn more, give us a call at 905-544-2470 or just fill out this simple online form!

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