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CleanAir Solutions Blog

July 2019

Warning! There Is a 50 Percent Chance Your Home Has Mould - What to Do Now

basement mould

According to the most recent scientific research, a whopping 50 percent of all homes in Canada test positive for the presence of dampness and mould.

That is a lot of mould!

Even more concerning, however, is that wherever there is mould, you will inevitably find a number of additional worrisome indoor air quality and health risks.

What is driving this uptick in indoor dampness and mould? There is no doubt that climate change and global warming throughout North America play a part. Another part can be chalked up to new eco-friendly airtight construction standards that have a negative impact on ventilation.

In this post, find out what to do now to protect your home or workplace from this increasing threat.

3 Powerful Toxins That Love Damp Homes

If you were a dust mite, mould spore or gaseous micro-particle, and you had to choose between migrating to an area with dry or damp indoor air, guess which area you would choose?

Yep. You would choose damp air every time.

Mould spores

Damp air acts like a magnet for fungi like mould and mildew, bacteria, viral matter and other microbes and microorganisms.

These spores, fragments and microorganisms need damp to survive, reproduce and spread. This is why they are often found in areas of a home or workplace where damp is consistently elevated.

Dust mites

Dust mites also love damp air. This is because these tiny insects don’t actually drink water to hydrate – they absorb it by osmosis directly from the surrounding air.

As long as the indoor air humidity is below 50 percent, dust mites can’t absorb enough moisture to survive and reproduce. But when dampness increases inside a space, watch out for a dust mite colony explosion.

Gaseous particulate matter

As indoor air becomes increasingly damp and humid, this enacts changes in household items and furnishings that can release tiny toxic particulates into the air.

One good example is treated manufactured wood. The resins used to treat and seal these wood products often contain formaldehyde-urea resin, which is humidity-sensitive.

Flooring and other materials that contain plastics and plastic softening agents react similarly by releasing particulate micro-toxins into the air when humidity escalates.

Health Hazards That Arise in Damp Spaces

It nearly goes without saying that when mould, mildew, bacteria, dust mites and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) invade any indoor air, poor health symptoms are sure to follow.

In fact, recent statistics from damp-testing in homes, workplaces and schools throughout North America indicate these symptoms can increase by 30 to 70 percent as indoor air dampness increases.

However, if you don’t know you have a problem with damp inside your home or workplace, you may be struggling to put a “face with a name,” so to speak, in identifying the root cause of your health symptoms.

These are some of the most commonly reported health issues that often arise when indoor air humidity increases.

Allergies and asthma

Allergies, including allergic rhinitis (hay fever) are perhaps the most well-known and frequent health symptoms associated with exposure to mould, mildew and other organic matter such as pollen.

Asthma onset or increase in attacks is also directly linked to exposure to mould, bacteria, organic chemicals and dust mites.

Respiratory infections

Upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and congestion are all linked to exposure to mould, mildew, dust mites and organic chemicals.

Breathing troubles

Shortness of breath, wheezing and other respiratory symptoms are more frequently found in people who spend significant time in damp or mould-infested spaces.

Eczema and atopic dermatitis

It is not just the respiratory system that is sensitive to exposure to toxic organic matter. The skin, which is not just the body’s largest organ but also the first line of defense against toxins, can be extraordinarily sensitive to exposure.

The frequency of eczema and atopic dermatitis outbreaks increases after exposure to damp air that is hosting dust mites, mould or mildew, bacteria and other particulate microbials.

Why Dehumidification Isn’t Enough to Protect Your Home & Health

As you read through this laundry list of damp-attracted toxins and accompanying health symptoms, you are probably thinking that a dehumidifier will make short work of these issues.

We wish it was that simple!

Installing a dehumidifier as a preventive measure can definitely lessen the need to take additional remediation action. However, in airtight new construction spaces in particular, this will only work if a heat recovery ventilator is installed at the same time.

Overall, once the air has become humid consistently and organic matter has begun to reproduce and colonize your home, workplace or school, the level of treatment needed to remedy the issue increases correspondingly.

Here is what we recommend to protect your space and health from the negative impact of damp and humidity over the long term.

  1. If you suspect a black mould infestation, always contact a mould specialist for an assessment before you take any other action!

  2. Schedule a professional indoor air duct cleaning and sanitizing service to remove particulates trapped inside your air ducts.

  3. Install a heat recovery ventilator to move damp, stale air and toxins back outside.

  4. Consider installing a whole-home dehumidifier to control escalating humidity seasonally.

  5. Add a HEPA air filtration system to trap and remove tiny toxic particulates from your indoor air.

  6. Add an ultraviolet air purification system to neutralize airborne gaseous and liquid micro-toxins and chemicals.

Get in Touch

Do you need help to control rising humidity levels inside your space? We can help!

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

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What IS That Smell? 5 Sniff-Worthy Signs Your Indoor Air Quality Is Compromised

dog nose up close

Scents can be a wonderful thing. Gardenia flowers blooming, apple pie baking, the family dog just after a long-overdue bath – these are the smells that make us all smile.

But then there are the not-so-wonderful aromas. A musty smell wafting through your vents, the dog before his long-overdue bath, mouldy odors in the basement – these worrisome odours are concerning for more reasons than just unpleasantness.

The truth is, your home finds all kinds of ways to try to communicate when there is a problem. But in order to find it and fix it before the issue affects your health or your home’s resale value, you first have to learn to decode the messages.

In this post, learn about the five most common sniff-worthy warning signs that your indoor air quality has been compromised.

1. The Smell: Grassy, Musty, Dank, Dirty

If there is one odour no homeowner ever wants to detect inside their home, garage, basement, attic or work shed, it is this one.

The smell of damp grass, dirty shoe liners, musty old towels or last year’s unwashed bathing suit usually means only one thing: mould or mildew.

Mould can smell different depending on who is doing the sniffing, but the location of the odour can also play a part in speedy diagnosis.

If you start to smell this odour most strongly in areas where humidity tends to build up naturally (basement, laundry room, bathroom, etc.), this is further cause for suspecting mould.

2. The Smell: Sharp, Astringent, Chemical

A sharp, astringent, shockingly obvious odour that has chemical overtones masked by a so-called "pleasant or refreshing scent" is common in cleaning products.

Unfortunately, chemicals such as formaldehyde, phthalates, ethanol, volatile organic compounds and free radicals are rampant in household air fresheners, deodorizing products, sanitizing solutions and more.

Unfortunately, at least one research study has confirmed that even so-called “green” or “organic” household products designed to “freshen” the air often contain harmful chemicals that help produce their characteristic scents.

Even unscented or fragrance-free products often contain ingredients that leave behind some type of odour.

The most common health symptoms that arise from breathing in chemically “freshened” air include migraine headaches, respiratory distress, asthma attacks, trouble breathing, diarrhea and earaches (in infants), neurological issues and heart trouble.

3. The Smell: Wet Dog

Barring the actual presence of a wet dog in the near vicinity, the most likely cause of a wet dog odour is old pet dander, dust and debris lingering around.

Of course, if you don’t have any pets but you are smelling wet dog anyway, the next most likely culprit is dust mites, dust and debris.

Old secondhand smoke (wood, candle or tobacco) that has worked its way into the fabric of your home furnishings, dampened home furnishings that are starting to rot, use of pesticides and insecticides and similar issues can also give rise to a “wet pet” type smell.

4. The Smell: “New Carpet”

If you have just installed new carpeting, new furniture, a new mattress or other new home furnishings, you may actually be smelling formaldehyde, the acknowledged leader in what is now known to be a particularly potent cocktail of chemicals contained in many home products.

While “new car” (still wildly popular despite many health warnings) is arguably the best known of these unhealthy chemical smells, off-gassing from home improvement projects and mattresses, new furnishings, paint and primer, dry cleaning, home office equipment and even some ozone-producing air purifiers makes lots of people sick every year.

5. The Smell: Perfumed

Lotion, shampoo, hand sanitizer, soap, deodorant, body spray, dishwashing pods, floor cleaner, perfume and cologne, makeup – the list of products that contain toxic chemical fragrances goes on and on and on.

The truth is, most people are surrounded by scents all day and night (many clothing detergents and even some household bleaches contain perfumes).

And the vast majority of these scents – even ones that smell like cinnamon or honeysuckle – are recreated by combining chemicals with names too long and convoluted to even pronounce.

Indoor Air Quality Remedies That Really Work

The first and most important action you can take to clean up your indoor air quality is simply to pay close attention to what you do and what products you use in your home.

Just by switching to all-natural homemade cleaning products and adding the right houseplants to help purify your air, you have already made significant strides toward improved indoor air quality.

To really hit the reset button on your indoor air quality, however, you need to schedule a professional air duct cleaning service. Gaseous, liquid, solid and microbial matter gets trapped inside your air ducts with every cycle of your HVAC system.

Over time, as this matter builds up, it creates unpleasant odours throughout your home and spreads a thin layer of toxic material over your home each time air gets pushed out of your registers. Having your air duct system professionally cleaned, deodorized and sanitized is like having a whole new air duct system installed at a fraction of the cost.

To help balance indoor air humidity levels, remove stale indoor air and push toxins back outside where they belong, you won’t find better than the heat recovery ventilator. A perk: it will also conserve energy and help lower your utility bills.

HEPA air filtration units easily retrofit to work with any central (ducted) HVAC system. These units can remove particulate matter as small as 1/100th the size of a single human hair!

Ultraviolet air purification units also retrofit with any ducted HVAC system and will neutralize gaseous and liquid particulates so they can do no further harm.

Get in Touch

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

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Meet the Top 9 Indoor Air Toxins Polluting Your Indoor Air & Learn How to Remove Them

Indoor Air Toxins Polluting Your Indoor Air

Maintaining indoor air quality has become a complicated challenge in today's world.

In fact, in most cases we are our own worst enemy because many of the products we use are actually introducing toxins into the air we breathe!

Every year, more Canadians contract lung disease, heart disease and other serious diseases due to exposure to airborne carcinogens.

In past decades, you might have thought you could get away from the toxins by going inside and shutting the door. But recent reports indicate our indoor air is now up to five times more toxic than our outdoor air here in Canada.

And if you are like most Canadians, you probably spend 90 to 99 percent of your typical day inside, breathing indoor air.

This means the real fight to purify your air is going to take place indoors.

In this post, meet nine of the most concerning airborne toxins and learn how to remove them from your indoor air supply.

Nine Airborne Toxins Polluting Your Indoor Air

The Canadian Lung Association cites these nine airborne toxins as among the most concerning for Canadian families today.

1. Tobacco & Vaping Smoke

Aside from radon gas (see number nine here), tobacco and vaping smoke are the leading cause of lung cancer in Canada today. Non-smoking family members who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at particular risk.

If you must smoke or vape, always do so outdoors.

2. Wood Smoke

Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are still quite popular throughout Canada, especially during the extreme cold of the winter season.

Wildfires also emit copious amounts of volatile organic compounds into the air that then gets pulled inside your home.

3. Mould and Mildew

Mould and mildew spores are attracted to any damp, dark, cool indoor spaces, such as basements, laundry rooms, kitchens and bathrooms, garages and air ducts.

4. Humidity

High humidity, whether seasonal or year-round, attracts a variety of concerning airborne toxins, including mould and mildew spores.

Humidity can also provide a fertile breeding ground for viral matter, bacteria and other fungal matter.

5. Household Chemicals

Paint, paint thinners, glues and adhesives, craft supplies and other household chemicals are another potent source of indoor air toxins.

6. Household Cleaners

Many commercial cleaning products used in homes and workplaces today are so toxic they can irritate your skin, eyes or respiratory system on contact.

We have written an entire blog post featuring great natural cleaning product recipes you can make at home.

7. Pesticides

Pesticides, insecticides and herbicides easily enter your home air and water supply, causing a host of secondary health symptoms including respiratory distress, skin rashes, headaches, allergies and asthma attacks.

8. Scented Products

Many scented products may smell fantastic, but their scent comes from a potent recipe of chemicals rather than natural flower essences or essential oils.

Air fresheners, candles and scented personal care products are particular culprits here.

9. Radon Gas

Radon gas has recently been named as the number one leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the number two cause of lung cancer in smokers.

Radon gas is a naturally occurring gas that is emitted as uranium breaks down in the water, rocks and soil. It is found all over Canada but is more concentrated in certain areas.

Once radon gets into your home, it tends to get trapped inside, where you are exposed repeatedly to its damaging effects.

How to Take Action to Clean Up Your Indoor Air

So now you know about the most common airborne toxins, chemicals and poisons that are polluting the air you breathe every day.

What action can you take to clean up your indoor air so your family doesn’t suffer the health consequences of exposure?

Here is what we recommend as a comprehensive and permanent solution to air toxicity at home and at work.

Schedule a professional air duct cleaning service

Airborne toxins don’t just stay in your indoor air supply for a day or two. Once trapped inside your home, they continue to circulate through your HVAC system, into your ducts and then back out into your home.

Some of these toxins get trapped inside your ducts, where small amounts are continually pushed back out as forced air whooshes through your ducts with each cooling or heating cycle.

Over time, this buildup becomes visible and obstructive. If you have no record of having had your air ducts professionally cleaned and sanitized in the last five to 10 years, this is the first step toward cleaning up your indoor air.

Install a heat recovery ventilator

Ventilation, or lack thereof, is a significant problem with most new construction buildings today. Without adequate ventilation, the air indoors becomes stale and heavy with toxins.

A heat recovery ventilator is like a set of mechanical lungs for your house that continually refreshes and oxygenates your air while balancing humidity levels and removing toxins.

Add a HEPA air filtration system

HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. This air filtration system was first developed during World War II to protect scientists from airborne radioactive particulates.

The HEPA air filter is still considered the gold standard in air filtration for hospitals and laboratories today, readily stopping airborne toxins as small as 1/100th the size of a single human hair and removing them permanently from your indoor air supply.

Install an ultraviolet air purification system

Ultraviolet light is the most potent air purification agent available to us today. Ultraviolet band-C is the most potent of the three UV light bands.

An ultraviolet light purification system uses UV-C light to change the molecular structure of airborne gaseous and liquid particles, rendering them unable to cause harm and permanently removing them from your indoor air supply.

Get in Touch

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

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