Green Renovation

Pollution happens indoors, too

By Roy Nandram

As many have transitioned to remote work and shared living arrangements, the quality of our indoor environment has surged to the forefront of our concerns.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) underscores this shift, emphasizing that Canadians spend about 90 per cent of their time indoors. It highlights the pressing need to grasp how indoor air quality profoundly affects our health.

Climate change contributes to heightened allergens and extreme weather, amplifying the infiltration of outdoor pollutants, such as pollen, into our living spaces. Implementing robust indoor filtration and ventilation mechanisms becomes crucial to safeguarding our health.

Currently, typical households harbor more than 60 harmful biological and non-biological substances. These stem from everyday items such as cleaning products, furniture, and even routine activities like cooking or smoking. Added to these are external elements like pollen, mold, pet dander, and various microbes.

Let’s delve into different types of indoor pollutants and explore ways to enhance air quality.

Tobacco Smoke: Its harmful chemicals significantly degrade indoor air. Make your home a smoke-free zone for cleaner air and better health.

Heating Sources: Stoves, fireplaces, furnaces, and water heaters emit various pollutants. Regular inspection and installing carbon monoxide alarms are vital safety measures.

Cooking: Cooking can introduce pollutants and increase humidity levels. Using a high-powered range hood reduces these effects significantly.

Cleaning: Household cleaning and laundry emit particles and raise humidity. Opt for low-emission products, ensure proper venting, and maintain cleanliness to improve air quality.

Renovations: Gases released during renovations contribute to indoor pollution. Adequate ventilation and open windows are crucial during these activities.

Additionally, adopting effective strategies can further enhance indoor air quality.

Ventilation: Installing a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV) can improve air circulation without excessive energy consumption, ensuring a uniform temperature and fresher air. Constantly running your furnace fan will cost slightly more energy, but it is worth the advantage of improved indoor air quality and thermal comfort. Additionally, installing a new air filter in your HVAC equipment will help flush out contaminants in the air.

Air Purifiers: Devices with HEPA filters effectively remove airborne particles, aiding those with respiratory issues.

Humidity Control: Maintaining humidity levels between 30% to 50% prevents mold and dust mite growth. Dehumidifiers can help in damp climates.

Low-VOC Products: Opt for products with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to minimize indoor pollution. VOCs are chemicals found in everyday products which have the potential to change into the gas phase and contaminate indoor air (off-gassing). VOCs can be found in many household products such as paints, vinyl, adhesives, cleaning products, computers, and more.

Chemical Storage: Properly store chemicals in well-ventilated areas and dispose of them responsibly.

Radon Testing: Test for radon, a silent threat, especially in closed spaces like basements. To get the most accurate results it is best to test in the winter when the windows and doors are closed.

Radon gas migrates from the soil into the basement of homes and is considered to be a serious risk to the building’s occupants. The only way to measure radon levels is through radon testing. 

Indoor Plants: Indoor plants enhance both the aesthetic appeal and health of your home. Strategically placing these indoor plants not only adds beauty to your living spaces but also promotes a healthier and cleaner indoor environment.

Improving indoor air quality isn’t just about comfort—it’s about creating a healthier environment for ourselves. By curbing indoor pollutants and enhancing ventilation, we pave the way for healthier living and a more sustainable future.

Roy Nandram is President of RND Construction Ltd.

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