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4 Top Causes of Winter Indoor Air Pollution & How to Fix Them

eggs frying in non-stick pan on gas stove

The four activities associated with the greatest risk of indoor air pollution are also four of the things many people do every single day!

Luckily, there is a way to not have to rearrange your whole life and your daily activities just to clean up your indoor air. In this era of modern indoor air quality (IAQ) technology, you can reduce indoor air pollution and enjoy your normal daily routine, too.

Meet the 4 Major Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

As Canada’s website points out, these four activities each generate potent airborne toxins in quantity.

In winter, their effects are most frequently felt through increased colds and flu, headaches, chronic sinusitis and bronchitis, trouble breathing, poor sleep, trouble concentrating and similar symptoms.

Smoking

Here, smoking includes not just the use of traditional cigarettes, pipes and cigars but also vaping.

Smoking in any form releases particulate ash, volatile organic compounds like benzene and formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and more. This is why health experts say if you must smoke or vape, do so outdoors to protect your family and pets.

The European Lung White Book states that tobacco smoke harbors more than 4,000 known carcinogens and other toxins including ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxides, N-nitrosamines, aromatic hydrocarbons and, of course, nicotine.

Together and separately, these toxins are linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), a progressive and incurable lung disease. They are also linked to heart disease, stroke, cataracts, aneurysms and a range of cancers.

Heating

If there is one thing none of us are prepared to go without during a Canadian winter, it is heat! Yet heating, like smoking, is a form of organic combustion that can produce a wide variety of airborne toxins and contaminants, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, micro-particulates, dioxins and furans.

Some of these pollutants may not be household names, but they are very well-known in fields where maintaining air purity is a priority. Incomplete combustion of fossil fuels is the number one cause of toxic release for household heating systems.

Exposure to any or all of these toxins is linked to liver disease, immune system impairment, neurological disorders, skin disease and a range of cancers.

Cooking

Another thing no Canadian is ever willing to go without, winter or no winter, is delicious food to eat!

So it sure can feel like a downer to learn that cooking can represent a particularly problematic ongoing source of airborne toxins. Chefs will be especially disappointed to learn that cooking on a gas stove creates a special level of risk for indoor air toxicity.

As well, cooking tasty fried food is always going to push more particulate toxins into the air than will healthier options like steaming or boiling.

Installing a venting range hood over your gas stove can help reduce air toxicity, as can actually using the hood that is already installed inside your kitchen (a surprising number of cooks report that they don’t use this extra safety feature).

Toxins associated with indoor cooking include nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate ash, smoke and volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde.

As well, certain types of cookware, including aluminum, copper, stainless steel, glass, plastic and anything labeled as “nonstick” can introduce extra toxins into your indoor air.

Exposure to cooking-related fumes and particulate toxins is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, skin allergies, lead poisoning and any symptoms that are associated with indoor smoking or home heating.

Garage

The garage is a place many homeowners automatically discount when they think of indoor air pollution. After all, in many cases the garage isn’t even attached to the home. Yet activities that take place in the garage can have a strong impact on indoor air quality for the home sitting right next door.

One of the most common and serious impacts comes from allowing a car to idle in the garage, as is common for many Canadians to do in winter with an older vehicle. Use of a snowblower, leafblower, generator or even a barbecue grill can also release potent toxin chemical compounds into the air that are then sucked in through the air intake valves for your home.

Common toxins include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter like smoke and ash.

Exposure to these toxins is linked to all of the health issues already outlined in the previous three sections here.

How to Keep Your Indoor Air Clean (While Still Staying Warm & Well Fed

We recommend these helps to clean up your indoor air and then keep it that way.

  1. Clean out and sanitize your air ducts. This is like hitting the “reset” button on your indoor air quality – you are back to square zero.

  2. Install a heat recovery ventilator. This handy helper keeps your indoor air fresh, balances indoor air humidity and sends stale, toxic air back outside where it belongs.

  3. Add a HEPA indoor air filtration system. These time-tested systems come in central or portable versions. A HEPA filter traps particulate toxins so they cannot enter your indoor air supply.

  4. Install an ultraviolet light purification system. A UV light purifier comes in central or portable versions. UV light purifies gaseous and liquid toxins by changing their molecular composition so they cannot cause your family any harm.

Get in Touch

Are you ready to clean up your indoor air and enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season and new year with your family?

Right now we are offering a holiday special – 10 percent off of any of our popular indoor air duct cleaning and sanitizing packages.

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

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