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Health Risks of Poor Air Quality and How to Prevent Them

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As the years pass, the challenges of ever-worsening air quality continue to pile up, seemingly faster than we can address them.

There are positive impacts, such as when Ontario decided to phase out coal production in favor of natural gas and renewable sources of fuel.

But then, our neighbors to the south have been revitalizing coal production throughout the United States.

The health risks of these air quality issues are worrisome, to say the least, but we can’t always do a great deal to control what goes on at a national level.

Where we can have a great impact on the purity of our indoor air is in our homes and workplaces, and this post will show you how!

Toxic Air & Your Health: What Are the Risks?

Polluted air and fine particulate matter are two of the major causes of a wide range of serious health risks ranging from allergies to early death.

In 2013, a study published by the medical journal The Lancet stated that air pollution was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 21,000 Canadians and 2.9 million people worldwide in that year alone!

These are just some of the serious health risks that have now been linked to breathing toxic air: allergies, asthma attacks, lung conditions, stroke, heart disease, insulin resistance (pre-diabetes), preeclampsia and premature birth, dementia, early-onset inflammatory bowel disease, appendicitis and premature death.

Our Indoor Air Is More Toxic Than Our Outdoor Air!

The Canadian Council of Ministers (CCME) reports that outdoor air quality is improving in some parts of Canada, including Ontario, as a result of ongoing actions being taken to reduce smog output and carbon emissions.

However, even as our outdoor air enjoys marginal improvements, there is another area where our air quality is becoming progressively worse, and that is inside our homes and workspaces!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has studied the levels of dozens of known air pollutants inside homes in cities and rural areas. Results show that levels of known airborne toxins were anywhere from two to five times higher inside, rather than outside, each of the test case homes!

Further research confirmed that, in many cases, the occupants were introducing these toxins into their homes through their own actions. Cleaning products, tobacco, air fresheners, candles, paints, solvents, adhesives and glues, even personal care products like perfumes and cosmetics, were shown to be culprits.

This wouldn’t be so worrisome if we spent less time indoors. But data shows that the average Canadian spends up to 90 percent of the typical day indoors! This makes indoor air toxicity a huge concern for each person today.

Symptoms of Air Pollution

Even if you have never made a trip to the emergency room due to respiratory issues or an asthma attack, you have likely felt the impact of indoor air pollution at some level.

The most commonly reported patient symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, trouble concentrating, breathing issues, skin issues, fatigue, respiratory irritation and coughing.

Sometimes these symptoms can come on suddenly and then as quickly subside, such as when you spritz air freshener. And sometimes the symptoms can linger, such as after you complete a craft project or finish repainting an interior wall.

Popular DIY renovation and home improvement projects are some of the most worrisome culprits. Here, studies show that the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in the indoor air can linger for hours after the project concludes and cause more severe health reactions.

Air Pollution in the Workplace

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides employer guidelines designed to ensure workers have a safe place to work.

Indoor air quality at work is now a huge safety issue, and can even cause a condition called “sick building syndrome,” where groups of workers are similarly impacted by time spent inside the workplace.

While not all workplaces may have sufficient indoor toxicity to trigger sick building syndrome, what you need to watch for is simply feeling less well health-wise during the workday than when you do after hours or on weekends.

If you notice you begin to get headaches, mental fogginess, sneezing fits, skin itching or any other symptoms that subside the moment you leave work and do not return until you come back to work, you could be having a reaction to something toxic in your workplace.

How to Protect Yourself & Clean Up Your Indoor Air

Even if you make ongoing efforts to detoxify your home and workspaces by changing the products you use, you still can’t control what other family members, visitors to your home or your office mates decide to do.

Someone near you may choose to wear a perfume that gives you hives or install new pressed-wood furniture that reeks of formaldehyde.

So is your only option to suffer? Far from it! There is a lot you can do to protect yourself and your family from the impact of airborne pollutants headed in your direction.

Portable air quality helps.

Portable HEPA filtration systems and ultraviolet air purifiers make a huge difference in the quality of the air you breathe in.

Whether you place a small unit by your desk at work or in your bedroom at night, you may just find that your headaches dissipate, your skin is clear and your sleep is deeper and more refreshing just by making this small change to your environment!

Central air quality helps.

HEPA filtration systems and ultraviolet air purifiers can also work with any central (ducted) air conditioning and heating system by treating the air before it enters the ducts to reach each room in your space.

Get in Touch

Are you suffering from preventable air quality-related health symptoms at home or at work? We can help! Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470!

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