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CleanAir Solutions Blog

February 2019

4 Keys to Better Indoor Air Quality Starting Now

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Everyone wants clean air to breathe. Of course, this isn’t something most of us think about on a daily basis, but that’s just because we’re probably not experiencing any health symptoms to suggest otherwise.

However, the moment our eyes get itchy, nose gets drippy, throat gets scratchy or chest gets tight, we start to wonder what’s in the air! Could it be pollen? Dog dander? Secondhand smoke? Candles or air fresheners? Mould? Smog?

It may be all of the above or none of the above. Without professional indoor air quality testing, you may never know for certain what specifically has triggered your most recent headache or respiratory discomfort.

But with these four key tools at the ready, you can at least begin to reduce the amount of sick time you log by keeping your indoor air at home and at work cleaner and more breathable!

4 Indoor Air Quality Keys

Let’s take a closer look at these reliable controls: balanced humidity, ventilation, circulation and cleaning.

As you will see, each element has its own essential role to play in keeping your indoor air breathable, comfortable and squeaky clean.

1. Balanced Humidity

For years, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been recommending that homeowners aim for an indoor humidity range of 30 to 50 percent.

Typically, this will work out to where your indoor air humidity is slightly higher during the warm months than in the cold season.

Staying within this 30 to 50 percent range helps minimize both health issues and structural (building) issues related to too much or too little humidity in your air supply.

The best tools for maintaining a consistent year-round balance of humidity in your indoor air are two appliances: a humidifier and a dehumidifier.

These appliances come in both portable (room units) and central (whole home units) models.

Other helpful tools include weather stripping and sealing, adding insulation and exhaust fans and considering an upgrade to Energy Star-certified windows. Each of these additions can help keep your indoor air quality consistent regardless of what may be occurring with the weather outside.

2. Ventilation

If you’ve ever walked into your home after someone has just cooked a pungent dish such as fish, you already know why ventilation is so important to the quality of your indoor air!

Not every airborne toxin will stink the way fish does, so you won’t always have those obvious warning signs to let you know it is time to throw open a door or crack a window.

The best way to be sure your indoor air is well ventilated is to automate that task by installing a heat recovery ventilator system (HRV). The heat recovery ventilator is a nifty device that works with any central (ducted) HVAC unit.

Not only can your HRV help keep fresh air continually coming into your space, but it also helps lower your monthly heating and air conditioning bills by recycling heat energy.

Best of all, the HRV can also help with balancing indoor humidity levels!

3. Circulation

Is there one room in your home or at your workplace that is always hotter or colder than all the others? Do you find yourself constantly negotiating with family or co-workers to adjust the thermostat so you can be more comfortable?

These are common symptoms of poor indoor air circulation. Fresh air is not being distributed evenly and equally to every room in a space.

Often, this occurs when your existing ductwork begins to degrade over time. Ducts may start to sag or leak or develop cracks or tears. Sometimes ducts get clogged up with dust and other matter and get partially blocked. Sometimes it is the air registers or exhaust vents that are not doing their job properly to deliver fresh air and remove stale air.

If you have recently changed your floor plan at work or renovated your home to add on a new space, you may find this can also cause circulation issues where rooms are not temperature-balanced.

One of the best ways to improve whole-home or workplace air circulation is to schedule a professional indoor air duct cleaning. This service not only removes all trapped matter inside your air ducts (you can take a look at this short before/after video to get an idea of what needs to be removed) but it also cleans your air registers and exhaust vents and removes any blockages.

During your indoor air duct cleaning, your technician also evaluates the quality and integrity of your existing air duct network. You may only need to make minor repairs, sealing leaks and cracks, or there may be significant degradation that indicates a partial or full replacement.

With this work completed, your space will once again be temperature balanced evenly from room to room.

4. Cleaning

The final key to maintaining consistently clean, pure indoor air lies solely in your hands: cleaning. Cleaning not only refers to your consistent efforts to sweep, vacuum, sanitize and so on, but it also relates to what products you choose to use inside your home or at work.

For example, using commercial cleaning products and chemical air fresheners, including some candles, can add harmful chemicals to your indoor air. Smoking or vaping indoors, using a wood stove or fireplace, doing crafts or home renovations that require adhesives and paints, and similar activities can each introduce airborne toxins into your air supply.

Of course, it is not always an option to forego certain activities, even if you know they may impact your air quality. For these times, we recommend the installation of a portable or central ultraviolet air purifier or high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air filtration system.

Both can remove toxins from your indoor air supply, ensuring you have a steady supply of fresh, pure, oxygenated air over the long term.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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Home Testing Kit Versus Professional Indoor Air Quality Test: Which One Should You Use?

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When you look out over the vast landscape of do-it-yourself culture, it seems every day some new at-home product or service is on the market.

Some of these products are the real deal—cheaper, faster, better or at least the same quality as what you might have formerly paid a professional to do for you.

But other products and services may look great on paper and disappoint in real life. That is because they are missing the one key ingredient that can make what they have to offer truly valuable: human expertise.

It takes years, decades in most cases, of in-depth study, training and practice to become an expert in any field, and indoor air quality is no different. Knowing where to look, what to look for, how much of it is concerning, potential symptoms, remediation techniques and long-term solutions can take a lifetime of study, and that is time most of our customers don’t have!

In this post, we take a timely look at whether those newly popular at-home indoor air quality testing kits are worth the time and expense they require.

Are You Really Saving Money with At-Home Testing?

According to the most recent report from Home Advisor, the average concerned homeowner will spend around $410 for comprehensive indoor air quality testing (range of $150 to $890).

Compare this with the costs of some heavily advertised at-home air quality testing kits that test for mould, mildew and similar toxins. Some of these kits can cost just $30 or $45, which sounds like a steal in comparison with the cost of professional testing services. Other tests may run upward of $100, but these can still sound like a bargain since you can do them at home at your leisure.

But if these types of DIY tests were really worth your investment, then why did Consumer Reports begin advising against using at-home testing kits as far back as 2007? Consumer Reports, if you are not familiar, is an independent oversight agency that tests products and then issues reports.

The kits do their job—they will tell you if mould is present inside your home. They will also tell you the formal scientific name of the mould spores the test has detected. What these tests won’t tell you, however, is whether you should be concerned about a) that particular type of mould, and b) the concentration of that particular mould in your indoor air.

Without these two pieces of information, all you know is that yes, you have mould inside your space. You still have to find out more about that type of mould and discover if the concentration is concerning.

Then you still have to attempt to sleuth out where the mould is colonizing (in your basement? Inside your drywall? Inside your crawl space?). Then you have to remediate it.

Unless you have a specialized background in mould inspection and remediation, you will still need to hire a professional to come to your home and do this work.

The Truth About What Is In Your Indoor Air

The truth is, mould and mildew is always circulating about in our indoor and outdoor air. Some mould is actually good for us—after all, it’s what gave us penicillin, a life-saving antibiotic.

Mould, mildew and other fungi are all around us in the environment. They will float indoors easily the moment you open a door or window.

So when you break out an at-home DIY air quality test and it tells you that it has detected mould spores in your home air, this technically isn’t news!

But what that home air testing kit won’t tell you is that most mould, mildew and fungal spores the test picks up will not harm you and are unlikely to reach sufficiently high concentrations to cause any health issues.

How to Get a Great Deal on High Quality Indoor Air Quality Testing

High quality indoor air testing is a specialized type of testing that comes complete with personalized guidance, knowledgeable and useful analysis and professional treatment recommendations.

You may pay more for this type of testing, but you get full value for your hard-earned cash.

For starters, professional indoor air quality testing will test for a lot more than just a few floating fungal spores. Indoor air quality tests worth the money you pay for them should test for a comprehensive array of biological, chemical and combustion pollutants.

Our completely silent, non-intrusive, state-of-the-art indoor air quality test will sample your air continuously over a 72-hour period for each of the following airborne toxins in all three categories:

  • Mould, mildew, fungi

  • Bacterial and viral matter

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

  • Formaldehyde

  • Radon

  • Carbon monoxide

  • Environmental tobacco and nicotine residue

  • Airborne lead

  • Dust mites

  • Pollen

  • Animal allergens

At the end of the 72-hour sampling period, you will receive a full-color, multi-page report detailing each of the airborne pollutants detected, their concentration levels, urgent threat alerts and immediate or long-term remediation recommendations.

Best of all, you will receive the benefit of face-to-face, personalized report analysis from one of our highly trained and experienced indoor air quality consultants.

By the end of the test period, you will know precisely what is in your indoor air that may be concerning, plus how concerning those elements are, plus a selection of immediate and long-term remediation and maintenance options you may wish to pursue.

Now that is what we call an indoor air quality test worth investing in.

Get in Touch

Are you concerned about the quality of your indoor air https://cleanairsolutionshamilton.ca/indoor-air-quality-testing.php at home or work? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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8 Reasons to Have Your Indoor Air Tested for Quality

woman in poor indoor air quality

It is pretty easy to take air for granted. We can’t see it. We can’t taste it. We can’t smell it. We can’t touch it. We can’t feel it touching us. Or can we?

Scientists who study the effects of the Earth’s atmospheric pressure tell us that the air that surrounds us and fills us up is always exerting an equal pressure against our skin of 14.7 pounds (6.67 kg).

So while we can’t generally sense this pressure, knowing it is there can shift our awareness of the importance of air quality in a very tangible way!

If the air that is pressing on us from outside and inside our bodies is filled with toxins, guess what is getting pressed into our skin, our lungs and every other surface of our bodies?

No wonder air pollution, pollen, pet dander, auto emissions and other toxins can affect us so profoundly! In this post, learn 8 key reasons you should consider having your indoor air tested for quality either at home or at work.

Reason 1: To resolve persistent allergies

The Canadian Lung Association reports that the typical Canadian spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors on an average day.

This wouldn’t be so concerning if our indoor air was squeaky clean. But in most cases, the indoor air in our homes and workplaces is more toxic (2 to 5 times more toxic, according to the U.S. EPA) than the air outside.

This makes it easier to understand how we can retreat indoors to get away from seasonal pollen and actually feel worse rather than better!

Indoor air quality testing can detect the levels of common allergens inside your home or workplace and help identify fast, affordable solutions to get you feeling better in no time.

Reason 2: To repel lung cancer

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that, like carbon monoxide, is both odourless and colourless. This makes radon very hard to detect!

Even worse, radon is the number one environmental cause of lung cancer in Canadians. Every year, an estimated 24,200 people die from radon-instigated lung cancer throughout North America.

What makes radon so deadly? For starters, it is everywhere—in our air, water, soil. Also, it is radioactive, which means in large enough concentrations it can damage lung tissue and cause cancer.

Indoor air quality testing can detect radon and help you put a protective plan in place.

Reason 3: To reduce asthma attacks

Something as simple as a build-up of dust and dust mites, pet dander, local pollen or even insect or rodent waste (fumes as well as solid matter) and the pesticides used to combat them can start to trigger increasing asthma attacks in vulnerable individuals.

When someone in your home or workplace suffers from asthma and the incidents begin to worsen and/or increase in frequency without any visible change in the surroundings, this is when it is time to suspect an indoor air quality problem.

Indoor air quality testing can test for and evaluate levels of bacteria, fungi, pet and insect or rodent matter, pesticides and insecticides, local pollen, dust mites and other toxins and help you formulate a treatment plan.

Reason 4: To identify a fire risk

Combustion is a very common process in homes and workplaces today. For example, every time you cook, you combust something. Your furnace, fireplace, air conditioner—all use combustion to do what they do.

Combustion is handy, but it also releases potentially toxic gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, among others.

These toxins not only cause serious illnesses and death each year, but when the combustible gases build up, a single spark can cause the entire structure to catch fire.

Indoor air quality testing can detect combustible gas levels to help you moderate your risk of future fire.

Reason 5: To verify (or disprove) sick building syndrome

As if there weren’t already enough noxious, toxic gases swirling around in our outside air, as you’ve now learned, these levels tend to be even higher in our indoor air.

When the right combination of toxic gases in sufficient quantities build up inside a space, this can cause whole groups of people to get sick. At home, this is usually just called toxic indoor air. But at work, this phenomenon is called “sick building syndrome.”

Indoor air quality testing can detect levels of toxic gases that contribute to sick building syndrome.

Reason 6: To reduce mould and mildew risk

Just the phrase “black mould” is typically sufficient to strike fear into the hearts of homeowners and business owners alike. Black mould can be deadly!

But even "regular" mould and mildew can cause lingering health concerns that worsen over time and gradually diminish both productivity and overall quality of life.

Mould and mildew can be difficult to detect, on account of how they like to hide out in damp corners and under moisture-rich piles of belongings, and even inside drywall and under crawl spaces, where you can’t see them.

Indoor air quality testing can detect mould and mildew long before you see any visible warning signs.

Reason 7: To protect your children

It is no secret the young and the elderly are generally at higher risk for each of the dangerous indoor air quality health issues we’ve explored thus far in this post.

Indoor air quality testing can outline pressing air quality issues to help you safeguard the health of family and workers.

Reason 8: To nip more serious problems in the bud!

Sometimes you get a vague sense of unease, a sneaking suspicion something is wrong, but you can’t put your finger on what it is.

This is precisely what indoor air quality testing was invented to figure out!

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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