It would appear the cooler air has settled in as we head into late autumn and this means we are staying indoors more than usual and our windows and doors are closed. Without our usual fresh air ventilation that we enjoy all summer, we could be experiencing some level of indoor air pollution that is not healthy and potentially even deadly.
So, what is indoor air pollution? Essentially, it occurs when gases or particles that are released into the air from a variety of sources can decrease the quality of our indoor air. This type of pollution can range from harmless to irritating to outright deadly. Long term exposure to polluted indoor air can increase your risk for respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer. In fact, in the United States, they have ranked indoor air pollution as one of the top 5 environmental health risks.
Where does indoor air pollution originate? There are several causes for indoor air pollution and they include the following:
- combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal and wood
- tobacco products used in the home
- asbestos, which can be found in insulation, roofing shingles and siding
- wet / damp carpet or building materials which leads to mold and mildew
- cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products which produces formaldehyde
- household cleaning products and personal care products due to artificial fragrances that are created from a variety of different chemicals
- radon – a radioactive gas that comes from the ground beneath your home
- outdoor air pollution
Since we have identified indoor air pollution as a serious and potentially deadly problem, here are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk and improve the quality of the air in your home.
- test your home for radon in your air and water and if requires, install an appropriate radon mitigation system
- use personal care products and cleaning products that are unscented
- do not smoke in your home
- whenever possible, if purchasing pressed wood furniture, cabinetry or wall covering, look for GreenGuard certification or the Ecologo.
- purchase a HEPA filter for the rooms you occupy the most
- grow plants throughout your home to help remove dangerous gases
- maintain appropriate ventilation and humidity levels in your home with the aid of dehumidifiers and exhaust fans if necessary
- try to open several windows in your home for at least 15 minutes per day
It is virtually impossible to make your indoor air perfectly pure, but you can take steps to improve your air quality and decrease exposure to potentially deadly pollutants. There is no expectation that you will replace all the furniture in your home, toss all your cleaning products, or change out your heating system, but you can make some simple changes now and with smarter decision making in the future you can achieve big improvements.
Announcement: CCSH will be hosting a Winter Driving Workshop again this year. On November 25th from 2 to 4 p.m. Garry Magwood will facilitate an informative workshop that is suitable for drivers of all ages. Call Deb at 613-969-0130 for more information and to register for this event.