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CleanAir Solutions Blog

December 2019

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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Dreading Cold & Flu Season? It’s Time to Declutter Your Air Ducts

sick woman on a couch

Winter is traditionally when you will be breathing the driest, dustiest air of the whole year.

No wonder winter is nicknamed “cold and flu season”!

But the reason for this isn’t entirely due to winter's natural lower humidity levels. Your home may also be contributing to the sneezes and sniffles making you and your family miserable.

Decluttering has become so popular in recent years and yet there is one place no one is talking about where clutter quite simply abounds – your indoor air ducts!

In this post, find out how to send the clutter inside your air ducts packing and start feeling better fast.

Meet the Clutter Hiding In Your Indoor Air Ducts

Here are some of the major categories of clutter inside the air ducts in a typical Canadian home:

  • Dust and dust mites

  • Dirt

  • Pet dander

  • Pollen

  • Mildew and mould spores

  • Insect/rodent waste

  • Volatile organic compounds

  • Secondhand smoke

  • Bacteria/fungi

  • Viral germs

  • Insulation fibers

As you can see, this is not the type of clutter you would ever want to hang onto. But since it isn’t easy to look inside your air ducts, in most cases you would never even know they were littered with toxins unless someone told you!

5 Major Warning Signs Your Ducts Are Cluttered

But should you worry about clogged, cluttered air ducts? This is the number one most frequently asked question our indoor air quality technicians receive.

Our answer is simple: you should worry if there are any signs the clutter is impacting your family’s health or your household budget.

There are five major categories of health symptoms associated with dirty air ducts:

1. Chronic respiratory distress

Coughing, sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath, nasal drip, headache and earache are all common symptoms of sinusitis. A respiratory system that is constantly breathing in toxins never gets the chance to heal fully.

2. Recurrent sore throat

One common sign of mould and mildew, dust mites and allergens inside the air ducts is a recurrent sore throat. The soreness is a sign that your body’s immune system is working overtime to try to keep you healthy.

3. Worsening allergies or asthma

Most people suffer from some degree of seasonal allergies. But if your allergies seem to be getting worse out of season, or if someone in the family is experiencing more severe asthma symptoms and nothing else seems to help, this is a sign your air ducts may be reintroducing allergens to keep you sick.

4. Chronic daytime fatigue

There is no doubt it gets harder to sleep at night if you have allergy symptoms, respiratory distress or a sore throat. This, in turn, can create chronic daytime tiredness.

5. Repetitive sickness

Finally, if you just feel like your immune system is falling asleep on the job more and more lately and you can’t put your finger on the cause, it may be that your home’s air is what’s making you feel sick!

6 Signs Your Ducts Need Your Attention

In the previous section, we highlighted two main reasons you should worry about clogged, cluttered air ducts. The first was your family’s health and the second is your budget.

Since it isn’t easy to inspect your ducts from end to end, it is all too easy to forget ducts have a useful life just like every other major system in your home. They wear out, leak, tear, sag and degrade over time, as does any insulation protecting them.

What does this mean for your bottom line?

The typical Canadian homeowner reports spending about $1,500 on heating and cooling costs annually. Energy Star estimates that an older, leaky duct system may be letting out as much as 30 percent of the temperature-controlled air you are paying for, which means you are essentially just throwing that money – so about $500 in the average Canadian home – in the trash.

How can you know your ducts are wasting your hard-earned cash even as they are making your family sick?

  1. Your energy bills are increasing for no apparent reason.

  2. You have to dust and vacuum more frequently.

  3. There is uneven airflow, humidity and/or temperature from one room to another.

  4. It smells and you can’t put your finger on where the odour is coming from.

  5. You hear strange sounds coming from the general direction of your air ducts.

  6. You see dust, dirt, mould or mildew forming in and around your air registers.

As well, if you have recently completed a home remodel, have pets that live indoors with you, regularly do crafts that require adhesives and chemicals, smoke or vape inside your home, use commercial cleaning products or air “fresheners,” use a wood stove or wood/gas fireplace, your air ducts are receiving the byproducts from all of these activities and recirculating them continually.

If you don’t have any record that your air ducts have ever been cleaned and sanitized, chances are good they have never had this service done and now is a great time!

Save 10 Percent on Air Duct Cleaning to Ring In the New Year

Now you know why winter is a perfect time to give your air ducts a long-overdue cleaning. Are you ready?

When you schedule your cleaning appointment now, you can save 10 percent on all of our three popular professional indoor air duct cleaning packages.

Act now to claim your special seasonal discount – this promotion only lasts until January 31, 2020.

Get in Touch

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

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Is Your Home Giving You Headaches? Indoor Air Fixes to Help You Feel Better Fast

bearded person with headache

Winter is commonly known as cold and flu season, but for many Canadians, it could just as easily be called headache season.

Why do so many of us seem to get more headaches in winter than in summer?

There is no definitive answer to this question, but there are some common culprits to be aware of. Some of these even have easy fixes to help you start feeling better fast.

What Causes Headaches?

Headaches can be triggered by all sorts of different factors. In some cases, there may even be genes involved.

But more commonly, headaches come about due to changes in our outer environment. While some of these changes may be within our control, we may have no direct control over others.

Common environmental triggers that bring on headaches for many people include changes in temperature, humidity, air quality, posture, dietary choices, sleep quality and medications.

Luckily, these are all aspects of our daily environment over which we have at least some control.

What We Know About Indoor Air Quality in Canada

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most recent indoor air quality report for North America tells us that our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than the air outside.

The Canadian Lung Association tells us that most Canadians spend up to 90 percent of an average day indoors.

When we put these two statistics together, it is easy to see how our indoor air can literally be making our head hurt!

Winter Dehydration Is a Leading Cause of Headaches

Perhaps the most common reason many people experience more headaches during the winter is modern heating.

Forced air heating systems can dry out the already dry winter air even more, sometimes depleting indoor air humidity to the point at which your body is literally starving for moisture.

This is why the EPA recommends keeping your indoor air humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. Aim for the higher end of this spectrum if anyone in your family struggles with seasonal allergies or winter asthma symptoms.

Did you know your brain is comprised of about 73 percent water?

So when indoor air humidity levels drop drastically and you get dehydrated, this can actually cause your brain to shrink! As your brain tissue contracts and pulls away from your skull, this causes pain that you perceive as a headache.

By adding back humidity to your indoor air, you can rehydrate your brain so it returns to its normal size and shape and stops hurting.

Indoor Air Toxicity Is a Leading Cause of Headaches

The other leading cause of winter headaches is indoor air toxicity.

This is because it is toxic indoor air that helps cold and flu germs, bacteria, mould and mildew spores, pollen, dust mites, pet dander, volatile organic compounds and other airborne matter enter your body and make you feel sick.

For homes and workplaces using ducted heating systems, these toxins often end up getting trapped in the air ducts and recirculated throughout the space.

Fast Fixes for Winter Headaches

Often, this is the time of year when you get to see out-of-town family and friends, attend fun parties, take time off school or work, and relax or enjoy winter play and sports.

But it is hard to enjoy any of these activities when your head is pounding!

This is what we recommend to improve the atmosphere and air quality inside your home or workplace to reduce winter headaches.

Use a humidifier

Adding back restorative humidity to your indoor air is one of the easiest fixes to help you start feeling better fast.

There are two main ways you can do this, depending on how severe your symptoms are and how many family members or workers are affected.

Portable humidifiers are great for small spaces – there are even car humidifiers now that can help you breathe easier behind the wheel.

You can also use larger portable room humidifiers for small living or workspaces. And central humidifiers can work with ducted heating systems for winter or year-round use.

There are two types of humidification systems: flow-through humidifiers and steam humidifiers.

Flow-through humidifiers work directly with your HVAC components, while steam humidifiers simply add steam directly to your indoor air.

Upgrade to a HEPA filter

HEPA filtration will handily remove floating microbes, germs and solid toxins as small as 1/100th the width of a single human hair.

Here again, you can opt for a portable HEPA filter for small spaces or a central system that can work with your HVAC units.

Add a UV air purifier

UV air purifiers are the industry standard to neutralize gaseous and liquid toxins including volatile organic compounds emitted from cleaning products, air “fresheners,” craft supplies and tobacco use.

UV air purifiers are also available in portable or central sizes.

Have your air ducts cleaned and sanitized

For a true reset that eliminates airborne toxins hiding in your air duct system, the gold standard is an indoor air duct cleaning and sanitizing service.

First, all trapped matter is securely vacuumed out using negative pressure commercial grade vacuum equipment. Next, your air duct system is completely sanitized against any remaining microscopic toxins.

This service is truly transformative and does not need to be done frequently. For persistent headaches and other health symptoms that do not respond to anything else you have tried, there is no better method to start feeling better fast.

Get in Touch

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

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