Indoor Air Quality Health

the Air, for Life.

Clean Air Day - June 7, 2023

Indoor Air Quality Health

Poor indoor air quality can have serious impacts on your health [1]. It can cause and intensify a range of health effects like asthma, allergies and certain indoor pollutants are even recognized carcinogens [6]. One of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality is by identifying and reducing the various activities and sources that cause indoor air pollutants [1].

Indigenous communities in Canada are at higher risk of exposure to poor indoor air quality as a result of overcrowded housing, poor ventilation in homes, the widespread use of wood stoves for heating and poor quality housing [6]

More than half of adults living in First Nation communities have reported the presence of mould or mildew in their homes [7].

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Sources of indoor air pollution [1]

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Cigarette smoke emits a vast range of chemicals. Reducing the use of tobacco indoors can help improve indoor air quality.

Tip: When smudging indoors, it’s a good idea to do it in a well-ventilated room.

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Attached garage
Avoid idling your car, gas powered lawnmower or snowblower inside your garage. The resulting pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds can potentially enter into your home. Make sure the interface between your garage and your home is properly sealed.

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Cooking on an electric or gas stove can also generate indoor air pollutants. If possible, try cooking on a back burner instead of front burners, open windows while cooking in the summer and try to use a range hood over your stove to reduce particles and gases.

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High humidity, water leaks and flooding can cause water to build (particularly in damp places such as showers and basements), allowing for mould to grow.

To prevent mold, identify and fix any moisture problems you come across in your home and try to keep humidity levels under control. If you find small amounts of mould, use soap and water to clean it up immediately. For larger amounts, you may need to call a professional.

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Gas and wood fireplaces and stoves are important sources of heat for many Indigenous families in Canada. However, they can emit wood smoke, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. It’s important to ensure that fuel-burning appliances are installed and maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, have them inspected by a qualified professional yearly, including chimneys.

It’s important to have at least one working certified carbon monoxide alarm in your home.

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Materials such as glues, flooring, paints and varnishes can release gases and other contaminants. When carrying out renovations and working with building materials, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use and make sure to open windows and ensure adequate ventilation.

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Furniture and household items
Furniture and household items such as carpets, pillows, mattresses, candles and cleaning products can all release gases such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particles into the air.  Increasing ventilation in your home can help reduce the level of indoor pollutants from furniture and household items.

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Household cleaning and laundry
Cleaning and doing laundry can also release unwanted particles into the air. To maintain good indoor air quality, clean floors with a damp cloth or mop, vacuum regularly and try to hang laundry outdoors during the summer.

Ventilation [1]

Ventilation is key to improving indoor air quality. It helps remove pollutants from your home and brings in fresh air from outside. It also helps reduce the buildup of moisture, which can help reduce the growth of mould.

You can improve ventilation in your home by using bathroom and kitchen fans, opening windows and doors during the summer months, keeping baseboards or heating vents clear of furniture, and by leaving bedroom and interior doors open to allow for adequate air circulation.

It’s important to get your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) inspected and cleaned according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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Testing Air Quality [1]

It’s important to test your home for common indoor air pollutants such as radon and carbon monoxide. Every home should be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector in addition to smoke detectors.

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