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CleanAir Solutions Blog

May 2019

Poor Air Quality Is Lowering Life Expectancy in Ontario: What to Do Now!

air filter process drawing

Recent reports through The Weather Network highlight ever-worsening air quality in the southwestern parts of Ontario near Windsor. This is not that far from where our customers live and work here in the Hamilton and surrounding areas!

Unfortunately, the pollution infecting this region of Ontario is quite likely to spread. As one health official pithily states, “Clean air doesn’t happen by accident.” Neither does dirty air, it would seem.

Find out here how you can take precautions to reduce your family’s risk of health issues due to declining air quality.

The Health Impact of Worsening Air Quality Is Real

Our local air quality is worsening at alarming rates.

The current Air Quality Life Index reading for the Essex County area in Ontario, for example, is an 11 – a full percentage point above the World Health Organization’s standard of 10.

In this case, the concentration of circulating airborne particulate matter (collectively referred to as PM2.5, if you are an air quality researcher) appears to be the most concerning for human health. This is because much of the pollution appears to be coming from burning fossil fuels in energy plants and trade transportation.

Particularly concerning particulates can include liquid or solid organic or inorganic particles, including smoke, smog, ash, pollen, bacteria, fungi, mould, mildew, dust, dirt, pesticides and herbicides, insecticides.

PM2.5 particulates are invisible to the naked eye and too small to get trapped by the fine hairs and mucus membranes in the nose and throat. So they can travel all the way into our bodies, in time causing heart and lung disease and chronic respiratory issues like pneumonia or bronchitis, and readily crossing the placenta to affect the health of an unborn baby.

The Ontario Medical Association reports that it expects to see increased hospitalizations and premature deaths from exposure to toxic air in the region through the year 2026.

How to Prevent Invisible Particulates From Harming Your Family

After just learning that PM2.5 particulates are too tiny for your body to filter them out to protect you, you may justifiably be wondering if there is any way to protect your family from them!

The good news is, the answer is yes.

Meet the HEPA filter

Back in World War II, scientists were racing the clock to try to develop an atomic bomb. They were working in a laboratory where there was a high risk of exposure to radioactive particulates.

So the powers that be set about to create an air filtration system to protect the scientists as they worked. This system was called HEPA, for “High Efficiency Particulate Air.”

As the name suggests, HEPA air filters are specially designed to filter out even the tiniest airborne particulates – matter as small as 1/100th of a single human hair gets trapped inside these extra-dense, intricate filters and is permanently removed from the air.

HEPA filters still represent the gold standard for air quality today. They are used in laboratories and hospitals all over the world, as well as in many homes and workplaces.

But what about the liquid or gaseous particulates also present in the air today?

Meet the UV air purifier

Ultraviolet light from the sun is the most powerful air purifier in existence. The sun emits three light bands – A, B and C. A and B are the reason we wear hats and sunscreen when we go outside, but band C, which is the most powerful, is blocked by the ozone layer ringing Earth.

The UV air purifier uses ultraviolet band C light to zap passing liquid and gaseous particulates, literally changing their molecular composition so they cannot do any further harm.

Installing a HEPA Filter or UV Air Purifier

Many people assume that switching to a HEPA filter is as simple as popping out your current furnace filter and inserting a HEPA filter in its place.

It is not that simple, although we wish it was! Because of the unique density of the HEPA filter, few residential HVAC systems can safely accommodate it. A HEPA filter can make your air conditioner or furnace work far too hard to force air through to the air ducts, creating a situation ripe for overheating and motor failure.

There are HVAC systems with HEPA-grade MERV filter ratings, and this can make good sense if your existing system is nearing the end of its useful life.

But you also have other options to install either a HEPA filter or a UV air purifier (or both). Both systems can be retrofitted to work with any existing HVAC system. For homes or offices that do not have central ductwork, portable models are also available.

One More Thing You Need to Do

We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about the importance of indoor air duct cleaning in your battle to improve your family’s air quality.

This issue with worsening air quality in southwest Ontario didn’t just start yesterday. It has been steadily increasing since 2005.

This means that, unless you’ve just had your ducts cleaned, there are plenty of toxic particulates trapped inside your ductwork (perhaps years’ worth), a small but important portion of which are blown through and out into your rooms with every cycle of your HVAC system.

To fully start over with the cleanest, purest, toxin-free air, you need to have your air ducts professionally cleaned and sanitized.

As a special spring gift to you, right now, save 10 percent on any of our popular air duct cleaning packages!

Get in Touch

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

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Airborne Chemicals Are On the Rise: How to Protect Your Family From Getting Sick

Toronto Smog

What would you do if you knew for a fact you were exposed to 3,000 or more airborne chemicals in the average week?

You would probably be shocked, perhaps worried, but maybe also more than a bit skeptical.

Unfortunately, scientists at Stanford University have now confirmed that the average person living in an urban environment is surrounded by toxic air both indoors and outdoors.

The exact nature of the toxins in your air can vary depending on a number of factors, including where you live, whether or not you have pets or use tobacco products, your existing landscaping and even what kind of paint covers your walls.

But what doesn’t seem to vary much is the high rate of chemicals in our air supply today. You may not be able to do a lot about the content of your outdoor air, but you can control the quality of your indoor air. This post will explain how!

Two Key Factors Impact Your Health: Genes and Environment

For every person alive today, there are two factors that control your health (or lack thereof) more than any others. These two factors are your DNA (your genes) and the surrounding environment.

You really can’t do much about your DNA – your genes come to you courtesy of your parents and may predispose you to some health conditions.

But you can do a lot about your environment, which in turn may be able to limit or even prevent certain health issues encoded into your DNA from manifesting.

3,000 Chemicals Is a Lot: What’s In Your Air

There are two main types of airborne contaminants regularly found in the air today: gaseous toxins and particulate toxins.

Gaseous toxins can come from cleaning or personal care products, paints and glues, air fresheners and perfumes, insecticides and pesticides, aerosol products, radon, carbon monoxide and more.

Particulate toxins can come from burning fossil fuels or tobacco products, bacteria and viruses, pollen and fungi like mould and mildew, pet dander, smoke from household or forest fires, metal and mineral dust, asbestos and more.

Monitoring Your Indoor Microbiome Cloud

Your personal exposure to airborne gases and particulates is called your “microbiome cloud.”

Research participants in the Stanford study wore personal armband monitors to identify all airborne chemicals they were exposed to against a control group of 40,000 items commonly found in the environment today.

While these armbands are not yet available for mainstream purchase and use, there is another effective, affordable way to monitor the presence of dangerous chemicals in your indoor air.

Indoor air quality testing takes just 72 hours from start to finish and can be done silently and unobtrusively. The monitoring unit takes an air sample every 60 seconds, analyzing its content and producing a full-color report identifying each contaminant and its percentages.

This is the best way to gather the data you need to clean up your indoor air using the right tools for the job at hand.

A Combination Approach to Clean Your Indoor Air

As our buildings become ever more airtight, air circulation and ventilation becomes increasingly hard to come by. This makes getting rid of trapped indoor toxins harder than it ever has been before – there is literally nowhere for them to go!

As well, some types of indoor air cleaners work best to trap and remove particulates like dust and soot, while other cleaners are ideal for removing and neutralizing gaseous compounds.

For this reason, it will likely take a combination approach to fully scrub your indoor air clean of harmful contaminants. You need different components to address gases, particulates, humidity, air circulation and whole-home ventilation.

1. Clean out your indoor air ducts

This first step is so important! You can do everything else to clean up your indoor air, but if you don’t address the toxins trapped inside your air duct system, you will just have to do it all over again and again.

An indoor air duct cleaning securely vacuums out all trapped gases and matter, sanitizing your entire duct system and (if desired) deodorizing it as well.

2. Circulate and ventilate

Ventilation is the key to moving stale, toxic indoor air out and pulling fresh, oxygen-rich air in. A heat recovery ventilator separates incoming and outgoing air into two separate columns so they never mix.

At the same time, the heat recovery ventilator helps recycle otherwise lost heat energy to lower your heating and cooling bills and balance indoor humidity levels.

3. Remove particulates

There is nothing better on the planet today for removing airborne particulate toxins than the HEPA filter. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and the technology has been in existence since World War II.

HEPA filters can remove particulates so small you can’t even see them – down to 1/100th the size of a single human hair. Both portable and central systems exist.

4. Remove gaseous toxins

For gaseous compounds, what you need is ultraviolet light. Short of cutting a sunroof in your home’s ceiling, the best option is to install an ultraviolet light purification system that focuses UV light to purify your indoor air.

UV air purifiers use UV-C light, the strongest ultraviolet light band, to change the molecular composition of gases so they cannot cause harm. Both portable and central systems exist.

5. Install and check safety monitors

Finally, it is vital to ensure your in-home carbon monoxide, radon and smoke detector alarm systems are functional to detect urgent air quality issues.

Get in Touch

Do you need expert guidance to choose the right indoor air cleaners and purifiers for your family’s health and wellness?

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

As a special spring gift to you, right now, save 10 percent on any of our popular air duct cleaning packages!

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Is Your Indoor Air Harming Your Child’s Lungs? Fix It With These 5 Simple Steps!

shocked child

Stale, toxic indoor air isn’t good for your health. But it is especially dangerous to your children.

Did you know that a child’s lungs continue to grow and develop all the way into adulthood? As the American Lung Association explains, this is especially true of the tiny air sacs inside the lungs, called alveoli.

For this reason, while maintaining pure, breathable indoor air is important to all of us, it is especially vital to help the very young grow into strong, healthy adults.

In this post, learn what you can do to ensure your home is a safe, healthy place for your children.

Our Indoor Air Quality Is Worse Than Our Outdoor Air Quality

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Report on the Environment” startled North America by announcing that our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than our outdoor air.

This is not good news, but at least now that we know, we can do something about it.

As with all health-related issues, the very young, the elderly and those with compromised immune system function are most at risk for lung and respiratory system damage.

Two Types of Airborne Pollutants of Special Concern

There are two main types of airborne toxins that you need to be especially concerned about. The first type is gaseous and the second type is particulate.

1. Gaseous toxins

Gaseous toxins include ozone, radon, carbon monoxide, butane, toluene and volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, methyl chloride, nitrogen oxide, acetone, carbon disulfide and many others too difficult to spell, let alone pronounce.

Many of these toxins are found in home renovation and craft supplies such as paint, primer, glue, adhesive.

Volatile gaseous compounds are also commonly found in personal care products such as air fresheners, cleaning supplies, nail polish and remover, as well as home appliances such as the beloved backyard grill, the home office scanner and the HVAC system.

2. Particulate toxins

Particulates can include cigarette ash, mould and mildew spores, pet dander, dust and dust mites, pollen, mineral and metallic dust, bacteria and fungi, virus germs, soot and smoke, and liquid micro-particles from cleaning supplies, sprays and paints.

Here again, these particulates are more commonly introduced into our indoor air through products we purchase than from any other source.

Indoor Air Pollution and Pregnancy

One of the most concerning aspects of the ever-increasing indoor air pollution is the risk to pregnant women and their unborn children, especially during the first and third trimesters.

If you or someone in your family is pregnant or trying to conceive, it is vital to know that multiple research studies have proven there is a direct link between indoor air pollution and preterm birth and low birth weight.

Indoor Air Pollution and Young Children

Children who grow up breathing toxic indoor air show commensurate developmental lung damage to what they might experience if one or both parents smoke.

The most concerning issue is slow lung growth and lower-than-average lung capacity. Children who regularly breathe polluted air also experience more respiratory symptoms as they grow up.

On a happier note, making improvements to indoor air quality can have an immediate health impact. Studies show that children breathing cleaner air demonstrate fewer symptoms of respiratory and bronchial distress, increased lung capacity and decreased risk of asthma.

5 Steps to Clean Up Your Indoor Air

If you are reading this and starting to panic, thinking about your unborn baby or your young children who are playing right now in the family room, this is only natural. You love your kids and want the very best for them in life!

Now that you know indoor air pollution can hurt your children, you want to take action. These five steps outline a simple, effective, immediate plan to do just that.

1. Change your home habits

The easiest, fastest change you can make is one you can start on right now! Head for your cleaning closet and discard everything you use for cleaning, crafts or home care that has unpronounceable ingredients on the label.

You can quickly mix up your own home cleaning products using these easy, homemade cleaning recipes. If you like to do crafting at home, move your projects outdoors where any toxins can readily dissipate.

2. Schedule an indoor air duct cleaning

Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t count all the toxins – gaseous and particulates – stowed away inside the average air duct system.

Scheduling a professional air duct cleaning is like hitting the “reset” button on your entire home air supply system.

3. Install heat recovery ventilation

What gets rid of polluted, stale indoor air better than fresh, oxygenated air? We can’t think of anything!

A heat recovery ventilator separates stale outgoing air and fresh incoming air while balancing indoor air humidity levels and saving energy.

4. Upgrade to a HEPA air filtering system

HEPA technology was invented during World War II to protect laboratory researchers from radioactive particulate matter. There is still nothing better on the market today.

HEPA filters will trap particulates as small as 1/100th of a single strand of human hair.

5. Add ultraviolet air purification

HEPA filters are great for trapping particulate toxins, but they can’t address gaseous toxins. For this, you need a UV air purifier.

An ultraviolet air purifier uses UV-C light to damage the molecular structure of airborne gas particles so they can’t do any harm.

Get in Touch

Are you ready to start the process of cleaning up your indoor air supply for your family’s safety and your own?

To help you, right now save 10 percent on any of our popular air duct cleaning packages!

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

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