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5 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

Woman opening drapes
Woman opening drapes

Canadians spend upwards of 90% of their time indoors, whether it be at home, at work, in the car, or in other venues — and in the winter, this number only increases. Your risk of lung disease is closely linked to the toxicity of air in your home and work environments, so it’s important to make changes where possible to stay healthy. Contrary to popular belief, indoor air quality can be just as poor as outdoor air quality, especially in busy cities.

While you may have less of an ability to modify the air quality at work, there are several changes you can make to improve it at home. Here are five quick steps to help protect yourself and your loved ones:

1. Clear the air

There are several activities, like smoking or barbecuing in an attached garage or other small space, that can have a negative effect on the air quality so it’s important to have an effective exhaust system.

“It’s (poor air quality) not just from cooking foods — it could also be from things like using a gas stove that isn’t maintained well enough,” says Chris Haromy, a certified respiratory educator at the Ontario Lung Association. “You may be getting gases from that stove itself, so you should have a good fan exhaust pulling air to the outside or a really good filter on the system.”

2. Quit smoking

Haromy believes smoking tobacco and other drugs outdoors is the easiest way to immediately improve a home’s indoor air quality, so if you have family members or friends who smoke, direct them to do so outside.

Fireplaces and candles can also produce smoke in a home, but not to the same degree or the same level of toxicity, so be sure to use those in moderation.

3. Clean house

Pollens, mould, dust mites, and items that may leach formaldehyde can be present year-round so be vigilant in your regular cleaning processes. Other actions, like fixing leaky pipes that create a moist environment where mould can grow and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter when cleaning can help to deal with pollutants.

Beyond these, cold and flu germs in the air, loose pet dander, and living in an older home at-risk of developing mould are all risks that you should keep in mind when looking for a simple solution for improving indoor air quality.

4. Maintain your ventilation system

Ventilation systems are designed to improve circulation by bringing fresh air in while transferring stale air out. Research has shown that homes built after the 1970s are sealed better than older homes, making them more reliant on these systems.

“Formaldehyde, benzene, paints, caulking — all of these build up without adequate ventilation. If you’re trying to improve the air quality in your home, a ventilation system can help clear it up,” says Haromy. Regularly changing your air filters can provide a big help in improving household ventilation — the average home should have its filter changed every 90 days.

5. Read the radon

Radon, another indoor pollutant, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. Alarmingly, Health Canada says only 6% of Canadians actually test their homes for the odourless gas which is emitted from decaying uranium in soil, rocks, or water.

Radon testing kits are inexpensive and are best used over three months in basements, where the gas will be most present. However, fixing the problem requires remediation to pipe the gas outside, so it’s best to get in touch with a trusted professional to remedy the situation.

Regardless of the age of your home or the number of smokers living in it, familiarize yourself with these tips to help improve the quality of each breath you take.

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