CleanAir Solutions Blog

4 Dangerous Air Pollutants & How to Avoid Them

indoor air pollutants

It might please you to know that your lungs are probably very happy you live in Canada.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 115 cities within our country’s borders have cleaner than average air. We currently hold second place in the list of countries with the most cities that have clean air. This is no small feat.

But this is not something we just lucked into. As a nation and within each province, we have banded together and worked very, very hard to clean up the pollution in our air both indoors and outdoors.

Now is no time, then, to rest on our laurels. We must keep moving forward, making more progress towards even cleaner air, because even as we continue to improve, the air in other countries is just getting worse (meaning transboundary air pollution remains a problem we must guard against, even though our closest neighbor, the United States, is partnering with us to keep our joint air supply clean.)

In this post, learn about the 4 most dangerous air pollutants and how to avoid allowing them into your indoor air.

4 Dangerous Air Pollutants

Canada's Department of Environment and Climate Change classifies the most dangerous air pollutants into four main categories.

These categories include the following:

Criteria air contaminants (CACs)

Criteria air contaminants include a number of chemicals you may remember learning about in chemistry class. As it turns out, these guys are really bad news when it comes to keeping your indoor air clean!

Some of the most dangerous CACs include sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), secondary particulate matter, ammonia, ground level ozone, and carbon monoxide.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Persistent organic pollutants that are floating around in our air supply can always be traced back to us somehow. They might as well be called “human-generated toxins,” because essentially that is what they are.

Like many human inventions, they are also remarkably long-lived. Some have the capacity to stay in the ecosystem for decades, working their way back to us through the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe.

The 3 main POPs include pesticides, industrial chemicals, and contaminants that are by-products of other processes. One of the most dangerous things about POPs is that they can affect even your unborn child.

Heavy metals

Heavy metals show up in some pretty surprising places, including a selection of skincare and cosmetic products. If you remember the movie Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts, you probably remember her running around getting water samples to test for a toxin called hexavalent chromium, which was causing cancer in all the local families in a nearby town.

Hexavalent chromium, along with lead, mercury, inorganic cadmium, and emissions from zinc and copper processing plants are all heavy metal-based toxins that can move in our air supply and affect our health, even though we mostly don’t realize it.


The list of toxic substances included in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is long, and most of the individual toxins are very hard to pronounce.

Like POPs, many toxins owe their existence to inventive humans who produce something useful, not realizing it is emitting harmful by-products. A prime example is the toxic 1,3-Butadiene, which is a by-product that enters the air supply through fuel emissions, fuel, and biomass combustion and industrial emissions.

How to Keep Your Indoor Air Pollution-Free

While you can’t ever hope to control what your next-door or across-the-border neighbors choose to do, there is a way to make sure their lifestyle choices and activities do not pollute your indoor air, harm your family, or change the health fate of your unborn child.

The 4 major pollutants listed here can enter your indoor air supply in two ways: from the air outside or from within your own home based on products you use or activities you undertake.

This means there are also two major ways to keep these pollutants out of your home:

  • Ensure you have an HVAC system in place that is up to the job of keeping your indoor air free of any outside toxins that try to enter your home.

  • Make conscious choices about the crafting/renovation materials, cleaning products, fragrances, and personal care products you choose to use.

Can Your HVAC Unit Do This?

There are a number of ways you can upgrade or add to your HVAC unit’s capacity to filter toxins out of your indoor air supply. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Use a HEPA-rated filtration system. Whether you simply use a HEPA-rated air filter, bring in a portable room filter, or install a central filtration system, HEPA technology can remove up to 99.97 percent of all airborne toxins—there is no system better for purifying your indoor air!

  • Add an air purifier. Sanuvox air purification technology can purify the air in both small (900 square feet or less) and large spaces (4,000+ square feet).

  • Have your air ducts professionally cleaned. A professional-grade air duct cleaning will remove all hidden toxins from your household in one fell swoop. Having this service takes one day, but for your lungs, it will be the best day of their life!

Contact Clean Air Solutions Hamilton for Help

If you are concerned about your indoor air quality at home or at work, we are here to help you! You can reach us at 905-544-2470 or online.

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