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Air Quality

Posted on 10 Jun 2014 0 comments

Indoor Air Quality – IAQ.  What is it?  What things affect IAQ?  People are generally aware of outdoor air quality and air pollution.  Outdoor air in cities contains contaminants such as fumes from vehicle exhaust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dust, pesticides and other products of urban living.  Many people do not realize that outdoor air also has many “naturally occurring pollutants” such as pollens, mushroom spores, mold spores and other “pollutants“.

Intruders.  You know the ones – viruses, bacteria, mold, dust, pollen and pet dander.  Most everyone is aware of the illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria, but did you know that almost all chronic sinusitis can be attributed to mold spores in your home (Mayo Clinic, 1999)?  As well, colds, chest infections, molds, pets and dust are common asthma triggers.  Of great concern is the rise in asthma amongst the population – it is now the leading cause of school absenteeism!  Surveys even suggest that asthma sufferers underestimate the severity of their condition.  They have learned to live with or tolerate symptoms and conditions that are often avoidable.  Worse yet, some sufferers compensate by taking more than their recommended dosage of rescue medications (i.e., “puffers”).

All of these outdoor pollutants find their way into your house, through windows, doors, pets and people entering your home.  What happens, as well, is that indoor contaminants from your home are concentrated in the indoor air.  Studies have shown that indoor air can be many times more contaminated than outdoor air, even in the most densely populated cities!

The media has alerted the public to toxic black mold in the home, but toxic mold is not the only intruder!  In your home you are certain to find:

  • Volatile organic compounds, continuously released or off-gassed by oriented strand board, new carpets, plywood, particleboard, glues and cleaning chemicals.
  • Dust mites and their feces.  Dust mites are microscopic, spider-like animals that thrive in your bedding, mattresses and carpeting eating skin and scales that have sloughed off you, your family and your pets.  They leave their feces in your bed, pillows and children’s toys.
  • Molds.  Toxic black mold in the home has created a lot of hype in the media.  Not all molds are black and not all are toxic.  Toxic or toxigenic molds in the home are thought to be life threatening by some, but most molds found in the home can certainly trigger allergies, asthma, headaches and fatigue in sensitive individuals.  Molds have been implicated as the culprits in sinus problems.  Molds can grow in hidden places indoors, and are brought into the home by residents, pets and through open windows and doors.

The bottom line on mold?  It shouldn’t be in your living or work space.  If it is, get rid of it.

Read what Health Canada has to say about mold …

  • Dust and other particulates.  Household dust is mostly made up of human skin, but also contains other particles.  Many chemicals, such as pesticides, adhere to dust particles.  Other particulates can also be found in indoor air.   For example, soot from candle use is becoming a worrisome contaminant as candles become increasingly popular.

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