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2 Spring Cleaning Tips To Improve The Air In Your Home

Housewife holding cleaning equipment in her hands. Conceptual photo of spring cleaning. Isolated on whiteMay is only a day away! And, for most of us, that means that we have summer on our minds. It’s not uncommon to find a Canadian that is happy that winter is over. With warmer temperatures expected in the weeks ahead, the average winter-hater is rejoicing at the fact that they will have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors more often. Even those who enjoy being inside are likely looking forward to opening up those windows to let in some fresh air.

But here is the interesting thing about the warmer months of the year. They can actually contribute to poorer indoor air quality. Seems strange, doesn’t it? After all, isn’t it a good idea to circulate the air in our homes with the air from outside? According to CasselHomeComfort.com, “spring and summer are the worst times of year for your indoor air quality because of the added pollen and other allergens.”

The site goes on to suggest that “indoor air quality may be the single most important health factor in our lives.” So it’s important to take steps in order to improve our indoor air quality on a regular basis. When you think about it, it’s the perfect time of year to do just that! If you haven’t gotten to doing your spring cleaning just yet, now is as good a time as any to recommit to the purity of your home’s air. Today’s first of a two-part blog is sure to help!

Here are two spring cleaning tips that will improve the air in your home:

1. Be sure to look for leaks. It’s great to scrub and clean every inch of your home in order to leave it as sparkling and spotless as possible. But it’s important to check for any signs that added moisture could be sneaking its way into your home. As Yvonne Braj of MoldBlogger.com points out, areas of high moisture can lead to the development of mould – a known pollutant in the indoor air quality world.

“While cleaning and decluttering, keep an eye out for signs of water leaks and moisture intrusion,” Braj advises, “Look out for staining, wet spots or visible water drips so that any issues are caught and dealt with immediately. Don’t give mould the opportunity to develop! Clean spills up quickly and don’t let water drips go unresolved for any length of time.” The less moisture in your home, the better you’ll be at improving its air quality.

2. Vacuum and dust efficiently. This tip should be one that goes without saying. But it’s a reminder that the more dust in your home, the more dust mites have the ability to shed their body parts and feces in places that can impact your breathing. This tip is also a reminder that a traditional running of your vacuum over the most walked-on areas of your carpet is not enough. It’s all about getting in the nooks and crannies of your home.

“Clean all of your overhead light fixtures and ceiling fans,” instructs CasselHomeComfort.com, “While you are cleaning, remember to get behind furniture, under beds, and other hard to reach places where dust and dirt accumulate. While you are at it, make sure that none of your furniture or drapes are blocking any HVAC air vents. It is important to keep all your vents open for proper airflow and ventilation.”

While taking these two tips will go a long way in improving the indoor air quality of your home, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Be sure to check back for tomorrow’s blog as we unveil a few more excellent spring cleaning tips to help you breathe better this summer. And don’t forget to contact DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. to learn more about how our Air Quality Services can improve the quality of your life!

Call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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The Importance Of Improving Air Quality For Asthmatics

World Asthma Day background.According to the Asthma Society of Canada, “every year, about 250 Canadians die from asthma. Most of these deaths, however, could have been prevented with proper education and management.” Defined as “chronic inflammatory disease of the airway”, asthma is most commonly associated with difficulty breathing. Most asthmatics describe the condition as one where their chests feel compressed as if someone were “squeezing” their lungs.

Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. Needless to say, the purity of breathing air is a major concern for an asthmatic. And while the Asthma Society of Canada notes that the cause of asthma is not known and there is no cure, there are many different triggers to the disease that should be avoided. And, as you may have guessed, they all impact that air that we breathe.

Dust mites. Described as “tiny, spider-like creatures that eat the skin particles humans shed”, dust mites are most often found in pillows, sheets, blankets, carpets, stuffed toys, sofas, mattresses and curtains. These regular elements of the home, therefore, should be regularly cleaned and/or laundered to minimize dust mite infestations. This is because “their body parts and droppings contain a substance that can cause inflammation of the airways in those who are allergic.”

Mould. Readers of our blog will not be surprised to learn that mould is an irritant to asthmatics. We’ve made many mentions of the fact that mould growth in the home significantly downgrades the quality of your breathing air. “When moulds reproduce, they release spores into the air that can trigger asthma episodes,” Asthma.ca reminds us, “People with asthma can come into contact with these spores both outside and inside. The air is never free of mould, but you can prevent growth by keeping your house clean and dry all year.”

Pollens. Going outside for some fresh air isn’t always necessarily the best course of action for an asthmatic. Many sufferers complain that they aren’t “outdoorsy” due to the fact that elements of nature trigger the symptoms of their disease. “Pollens are common allergens,” Asthma.ca informs, noting that they can certainly trigger asthma attacks. Pollens produced by trees, grass and weeds are carried by the wind on hot and windy days, says the site.

Air Pollutants. Another reason that going outside isn’t always the best asthma remedy is because of all of the man-made pollutants that exist in our world. Between vehicle exhaust fumes and smog, there are many outdoor triggers to asthma attacks. “The particles in the air along with ozone, cause lung damage and breathing problems in people with asthma,” says the Asthma Society of Canada, “Where possible, avoid going outdoors on days that have poor air-quality indexes.”

Smoke. It probably goes without saying that cigarette smoke is an automatic no-no for asthmatics. In fact, many complain that, among all triggers, it’s the worst for them to be around. “Even secondhand smoke can be a trigger,” says Asthma.ca. This makes it especially important for parents of asthma sufferers to keep their children as far away from any smoke of any kind as much as possible.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Inc., we consider our Air Quality Services highly important for those who suffer from asthma. The purity of your breathing air is of major importance. Taking steps to improve your indoor air quality should be a top-of-your-list task each and every day. For more information on how we can help, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Do You Have Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick man with cold virus at workFor those of us who work in office buildings every day, it is not uncommon to feel a bit uneasy about our workspaces. Sometimes, our cubicles can make us feel confined and bring out the claustrophobic in all of us. Other times, it’s the dreariness and monotony of the job itself that causes us to feel uncomfortable. And in other cases, it’s the poor air quality of the offices we work in that cause us to feel sick. Literally. It’s known as sick building syndrome.

What is sick building syndrome? According to Chris Woolston on HealthDay.com, if your office is making you sick, you could have this affliction. He admits that while doctors can’t usually detect specific diseases related to sick building syndrome, he describes it as “a constellation of symptoms that usually includes fatigue, headache, dry, itchy skin, and irritation of mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and throat.”

What causes sick building syndrome? There are a range of possibilities that could be leading to the poor indoor air quality of your office. Woolston notes that “employees in high-rises, particularly those over parking garages or loading docks, may breathe in carbon monoxide carried into the building through the fresh-air-intake vents.” He also points out that smokers who may be taking their smoke breaks near the building’s ventilation system can create issues.

In addition, “exterminators spray pesticides that may linger for days in the carpet,” continues Woolston, “Cleaning products sprayed on walls and floors at night add to the mix, as do copy machines, which emit ozone and are frequently unvented. Revolving doors suck in car exhaust and cigarette fumes from people smoking outside; building renovations throw in construction dust, paint fumes, and ‘off-gassing’ fumes from new carpets.”

Is there any end to the causes of sick building syndrome? Seemingly not. Woolston reminds us that most office workers can’t even crack open windows because their offices are located in sealed buildings. This very circumstance means that even if the indoor air of your office isn’t necessarily polluted, it still may not have the opportunity to circulate with the fresh air from outside. It makes for a very tough-to-breathe-in environment.

What can be done to minimize or avoid sick building syndrome? Woolston highly recommends a conversation with a member of human resources if you feel that the quality of your office breathing air is being compromised. Especially if you notice that either yourself or your co-workers are noticeably ill, it’s important to take measures to locate the potential office-related source of the problem.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up,” he insists, “Finding the root of the problem is to your employer’s benefit, too. Building-related asthma, for example, can cause permanent damage to your health — and lost productivity and increased health costs for your employer.” According to Woolston, The Environmental Protection Agency offers up a number of tips that can help to keep the air in your workplace as fresh as possible.

They include, but are not limited to keeping air vents free from blockage; smoking well away from fresh air intake ducts; taking care of office plants; getting rid of garbage quickly; storing food properly and keeping eating areas clean to avoid attracting pests. “Cockroaches have been linked to respiratory problems,” informs Woolston, “according to the EPA, certain proteins in cockroach droppings and saliva can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma symptoms.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services, we provide Air Quality Services to help ensure the safety of the breathing air in your office. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Minimizing Asbestos Health Risks While Renovating

Danger Asbestos RemovalSo, you’re looking to renovate your home. Obviously, that is bound to take a lot of work. Changing the environment you live in can take weeks or even months to complete depending on how much you are looking to change. How many rooms will you be redesigning? Are you putting in new flooring? Will new paint jobs be in order? Renovations, it should go without saying, are huge undertakings!

Do I have to worry about asbestos? This is, however, another extremely important question to ask when you are planning on renovating your home. As Pinchin.com explains, “today, few products contain asbestos, and those that do are regulated and must be properly labelled. However, before the 1970s, many types of home building materials and products used in the home contained asbestos and may be at risk of releasing fibres in to the air.”

That means that if you are renovating an older home, checking for asbestos is mandatory. The last thing you want is to damage your health or the health of your family and friends – not to mention the workers renovating your home – by having them breathe in those fatally dangerous asbestos fibres. Because asbestos was commonly used for insulation prior to the 1990s, it may be contained in your home.

When these fibres are disturbed and become airborne, they can get trapped in your lungs if inhaled. As we’ve blogged about before, this can lead to forms of lung cancer such as mesothelioma as well as asbestosis. Pinchin.com points out that asbestos may be lurking in places other than just your insulation.

So what are the different sources of asbestos that could exist in the home? According to the site, they include, but are not limited to cement roofing, roofing felt, shingles and siding; asphalt and rubber floor tiles, including the backing and adhesives used to install floor tile; steam pipes, furnace ducts, hot water tanks and boilers; soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings; textured paints; artificial ashes and embers used in gas fireplaces and older ironing board covers, stovetop pads and fireproof gloves.

According to Health Canada, “homeowners should receive expert advice before removing materials that may contain asbestos. If you think your home may contain asbestos, check regularly for signs of wear or damage. However, you can’t always tell just by looking at a material.” In fact, Pinchin.com insists that professionals should be called in to inspect for asbestos before any renovations are made.

“You can’t identify items that may contain asbestos simply by looking at them,” says the website, “The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to take a sample of the material and have it tested by an accredited asbestos laboratory. If you suspect asbestos, the safest approach is to treat the material as if it does contain asbestos.”

So how can you minimize asbestos health risks while renovating? According to Health Canada, you should “keep other people and pets away, and seal off the work area; wet the material to reduce dust, making sure it is not in contact with electricity; if possible, do not cut or damage the materials further and do not break them up (and) clean the work area afterwards using a damp cloth, not a vacuum cleaner, and seal the asbestos waste and cloth in a plastic bag.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer top-of-the-line Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services. For more information on how you can have professionals inspect your home to confirm the presence of asbestos, call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

One Comment

  1. April 28, 2015 at 4:21 am

    It’s good that Health Canada advised on having experts give their word about what to do before removing asbestos from a property. Improper handling will send asbestos fibers to the air, causing very serious health exposure. Asbestos should always be handled by professionals who are trained to manipulate and remove asbestos according to the degree of damage the material has sustained.

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Limiting Mould Growth In The Bathroom

Dirty Bath IVIn a number of our past blogs, we have stressed the importance of eliminating mould from your household’s environment. One of the key factors in mould growth, that we continue to point out, is the presence of moisture. For that reason, we’ve recommended limiting moisture in the home by inspecting for leaks, using exhaust fans and keeping surfaces dry. But, in some cases, this is easier said than done.

To be more specific, in some rooms, pulling off these moisture-limiting activities isn’t all that easy. Sure, we can hopefully remember to turn on the fans in our kitchens and bathrooms each time we are either cooking or bathing. But bathing, after all, requires the use of a great deal of water. Of course, no one is recommending that you avoid water. That would be laughable, as it is impossible to live without it!

It is, however, all about upkeep. In other words, once a shower is completed, it’s important to dry wet surfaces in the bathroom. But how many of us have time for that? This is the reason that black mould is so often found in the tiles of our showers and sometimes on bathroom floors. Keeping moisture at bay in bathrooms is not an easy feat. So there must be some things that we can do to limit mould growth, right?

Don’t ignore the various bathroom accessories. In other words, to limit mould growth as much as possible, you can’t just focus on the surfaces of your bathroom. We expect mould to accumulate in the tiles. But there are numerous objects that often reside in your bathroom that need to be tended to in order to limit the number of places that mould can hide. On HouseLogic.com, Deborah R. Huso provides some sound advice in this regard.

“Use a mildew-resistant shower curtain, and wash or replace it frequently,” she recommends, “Don’t keep bottles of shampoo or shower gel, toys, or loofahs in the shower, as they provide places for mould to grow and hide.” If this provides an inconvenient solution to storing such items, try to be mindful of wiping them down if they become wet during your showers. “Wash your bathroom rugs frequently,” Huso adds.

Inspect hidden areas. To reiterate an important point about mould, it loves to hide in inconspicuous places. It’s not always so easy to detect if you’re not looking for it. So in addition to removing or drying your damp products, you’ll want check the less obvious locations for mould growth. “Check out hidden areas, such as under sinks, access doors to shower and bath fixtures, around exhaust fans, even in crawl spaces and basements underneath bathrooms,” advises Huso.

Make use of mould killers. Bathrooms are places that most of us clean on a regular basis. For obvious reasons, bathrooms should be cleaned often. But some of us forget that wet surfaces, even when clean, can be an issue. Huso reminds us to use “mould-killing products, such as bleach, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.” As well, you should, “open windows and doors while cleaning to provide fresh air and help dry out the mould.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Mould Assessment Services that assess, analyze and report on your home, office or building. Our comprehensive assessments include visual inspections for sources of mould, an analytical sampling for source and health impact potential from spore exposure, a moisture analysis and thermal scanning. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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6 Effective Ways To Keep Mould Growth At Bay

Moldy orangeFor most of us, when we think of mould, we usually drum up pictures of food that has gone bad. The green, mossy-looking growth on our food usually means that it’s time to throw it away. Logically, it makes sense to avoid eating foods that have grown mould. But what most people may not realize is that mould spores can impact our breathing air. And mould can certainly develop in places in the home other than the refrigerator.

Wherever there is moisture, there is the opportunity for mould to grow. “No matter how clean you keep your home, having some mould is inevitable, especially if you live in a humid climate,” writes Krisha McCoy on EverydayHealth.com, “If you have mould inside your home, though, you can take steps to reduce its growth — which is especially important for people who are allergic to the fungal spores that are released by mould.”

Here are six effective ways to keep mould growth at bay:

1. Keep things as dry as possible. To reiterate, mould needs moisture to develop and grow. The drier you keep your living environment, the better you will be at keeping mould at bay. “Mould spores move constantly through the air, both inside and outside the home,” writes McCoy, “Once they find a damp spot, they claim it. That damp spot could be on paper, food, wood, plaster, and carpets. Since mould loves anything wet, the way to control its spread is to keep everything as dry as possible.”

2. Disinfect surfaces that often get wet. Because mould enjoys damp places to grow, it’s important to keep them as clean as possible. Sinks, kitchen and bathroom floors, shower tiles and the like are surfaces where you will often find mould. That is, of course, unless you are keeping them disinfected. “Luckily these are typically non porous surfaces (tile, stone, laminate) which makes them ideal for disinfectants and other cleaners,” writes Joslyn from the MoldBlogger Team, “Once finished cleaning, make sure no moisture remains.”

3. Check for standing water and leaks. The tricky thing about springing a leak is that you may not even know it has happened until you notice the damage that it causes. Faulty plumbing or even an old roof can lead to leaks that may show up as water marks on your ceilings and walls. “Promptly repair any leaks that you detect,” advises McCoy, who also urges us to “regularly wipe up any puddles of water that may accumulate in your kitchen and bathrooms.”

4. Store clothes when they are dry and clean. Have you ever left your clothes in the washing machine too long after the cycle has been completed? Have you ever taken clothes out of the dryer to find that they are still a little damp? Both situations offer mould a place to live. “It is best to keep used clothes dry,” insists Joslyn, “Better yet, wet clothes should be hung to dry. Try to put them outside or in places where there is air circulating.”

5. Clear the clutter. While mould loves damp environments, it’s also pretty good at playing “hide and seek”. The more clutter you have in your home, the more places that mould can hide from you. You’ll want to either throw out unnecessary items or store them outside of your home. “Old books, newspapers, clothing, and bedding that are no longer used can promote the growth of mould, so clear these items out of your house,” recommends McCoy.

6. Prevent condensation. Remember that mould will take advantage of any opportunity it can get to locate moisture in your home. As a result, it’s important to be mindful of condensation existing on surfaces within the home. But how do you prevent it? “Insulating walls and installing storm or thermal pane windows keeps walls warm and limits condensation,” offers Joslyn. There is, however, one more effective way to keep mould growth at bay.

Contact DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. for more information about our Mould Assessment Services today! Call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Outlining The Importance Of Supplied Breathing Air Systems

20140924_101844Clean breathing air is important for all of us. It goes without saying that we all need for our air to be as pure as possible in order to live healthfully. Lately, we have been blogging a lot about the ways in which we can maintain good levels of indoor air quality in our homes. Naturally, we spend a lot of our time in our homes, so making sure we take measures to keep our air clean is important. But, of course, we’re not always at home.

When we head on in to work, we have to live with the confidence that the breathing air at our workplaces is safe for our respiratory systems. Our recent blogs have commented upon the fact that older buildings have been constructed with asbestos as part of its insulation materials. But unless any disruption (via renovations, for example) is taking place, this shouldn’t be a worry. However, your job itself may be impacting the air that you breathe.

So what is the air like at your workplace? Depending on the nature of the business you work for, your breathing air may need a little bit of assistance. Consider the various lines of work that exist where supplied breathing air is necessary. Painters, for example, are constantly breathing in the fumes of the materials they use to do their jobs on a daily basis. Any job where air may be impacted may need the use of a supplied breathing air system.

But what are supplied breathing air systems? They are described as atmospheric-supplying devices that provide wearers with respirable air from sources outside of the contaminated area. Only systems with either manual or motor-operated blowers are approved for immediately harmful or oxygen-deficient atmospheres. They are generally considered mandatory requirements for automotive collision centres, sandblasting and coatings applicators.

If you do not work in an industry where a supplied breathing air system is necessary, you may associate such contraptions with the type of futuristic masks you may see in a science-fiction movie! It’s a reality, however, that these “masks” are requirements for individuals who work in fields where toxic fumes are being emitted. Without supplied breathing air systems, the lives of workers in such fields would be at risk.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we have over 14 years of experience in providing onsite compressed breathing air sampling assessments in Alberta. Firstly, we conduct a Breathing Air Analysis of your workplace and provide the results through accurate reports that reveal the sample’s conformance or non-conformance to the requirements of the standard. All supplied breathing air samples are submitted to a local, “Standards Council of Canada” Accredited Laboratory for analysis.

We also provide our clients with professionally-trained and certified air quality consultants to conduct independent sampling for industrial and commercial users of supplied breathing air systems. The intent, of course, is to guarantee the safety of such professionals as painters, coating applicators and sandblasters with clean and safe breathing air within their respective workplaces.

Do you work in an industry where supplied breathing air systems are necessary? If so, you’ll want to make sure that the systems being used are of top quality. Further to that, you’ll want to ensure that the breathing air of your workplace is safe for all employees and visitors. For more information about our Supplied Breathing Air Certification, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

2 Comments

  1. September 28, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Trident Pneumatics, a leading manufacturer of innovative products in Air treatment provides optimum services in breathing air system which supports spotless, breathable air for the patients.

    • Dennis French-Reply
      September 28, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      There are many good products available to provide quality breathing air to individuals. It is important to remember to have the quality of the breathing air tested in accordance with CSA Compressed Breathing Ar Standards (Z317).

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5 Ways To Avoid Contributing To Poor Indoor Air Quality

young man holding no smoking signWhen describing a person who is a super huge fan of something, we often make the claim that breathing is on par with that passion. For example, with the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs about to get underway, there are many hockey fans all across Canada who are pretty excited. One can argue that such individuals, “eat, breathe and sleep hockey”! You get the picture. The point, of course, is that breathing is absolutely mandatory for living – as hockey is, for some people.

In all seriousness, it’s incredibly important for us to keep our breathing air as pure as possible. But, needless to say, there are countless pollutants that negatively impact the air that we breathe. And while we have no control over a lot of them – emissions from vehicles when you are walking outside, for example – there are many ways that we can protect ourselves in our own homes. After all, that’s where we spend most of our time.

According to Greenguard.org, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors. “The air in our homes, schools and offices can be 2 to 5 times more polluted, and in some cases 100 times more polluted, than outdoor air,” says the website. Clearly, this means that we spend most of our time exposing ourselves to indoor air pollutants. And, in many cases, we can control indoor air quality by avoiding some pollution-causing activities.

Here are five ways to avoid contributing to poor indoor air quality:

1. Open the windows. According to Jonathan Choquel on Withings.com, this is “the obvious tip”. He notes that keeping your windows open is a good habit, as it helps for lower concentrations of toxic chemicals like carbon dioxide. He advises to keep windows open for at least five to ten minutes each and every day. “You should also do it when you or someone else engages in an activity prone to deteriorate indoor air quality,” writes Choquel.

2. Keep a clean home. Naturally, we can’t spend all of our time indoors. But it’s important to remember that we often bring some of the outdoors inside with us when we return to our homes. It’s important to clean up any dirt, soil, snow or water that makes the trip inside your home with you. “Airborne particulates can also come from dirt and dust that is tracked in from outdoors,” reveals Greenguard.org, “Installing walk-off mats at doorways and changing air filters regularly are both good strategies to limit these pollutants.”

3. Stop smoking indoors. In truth, our advice is to stop smoking altogether! However, for the sake of those you live with, avoid lighting up inside at all costs. Choquel reveals that exhaling smoke after taking a drag from a cigarette emits over 4,000 different chemicals into the air. “There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke,” he states. If you’re a non-smoker (good for you!), be sure to ask all smokers to take their nasty habits outside.

4. Limit moisture. Too much moisture in the home can lead to the development of mould, Greenguard.org reminds us. To limit both mould growth and the presence of dust mites – two major contributors to indoor air pollution – you should take steps to minimize humidity in the home. Choquel suggests that you use a dehumidifier, keep windows open during cooking and showering and inspect the home for water leaks.

5. Go fragrance free. Most of us love the smell of air fresheners. They make us feel as if our breathing air is clean. Sadly, it’s often the opposite. No matter how nice they smell, they can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Greenguard.org notes that these are the most common causes of indoor air pollution. “Choose fragrance-free products, or products with scents of natural origin for your laundry and cleaning needs,” insists Choquel, “(and) stop using aerosol spray products that create a mist of liquid particles.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are committed to maximizing the purity of your indoor breathing air. For more information on our Air Quality Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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4 Ways To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxideIf you’re put off by the idea that odourless, colourless gases can enter our homes and potentially kills us, you’re not alone. Naturally, it’s worrisome to think that we can be negatively affecting our health simply by breathing the air that is in our homes. Our recent blogs have covered the characteristics – or rather, the health risks – of two gases that belong in the “silent killer” category: carbon monoxide and radon.

The former, which is actually referred to as “the silent killer” is a gas that is often emitted from fuel burning appliances like furnaces, ranges and water heaters. According to Keith Pandolfi of ThisOldHouse.com, 170 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year. And while that may not seem like a large number, it’s one that can be significantly lowered by taking a few steps to avoid the gas altogether.

Here are four ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

1. Proper ventilation. This simple technique is very often brought up as a chief way to improve indoor air quality. Without a regular trading of indoor air for outdoor air, dangerous pollutants can remain trapped in the home. Worse, they can become trapped in our lungs. To prevent this, Pandolfi reminds us to vent the exhausts of our furnaces, ranges and water heaters. And he makes clear how we can all do this properly.

“That means having the pipes angle up, not down, as these folks have done,” he directs us, “hot air rises, you know.” He goes on to advise us to check that the vents are free of cracks and gaps. That way, you can avoid the possibility of leaks. As you can imagine, a cracked vent will emit carbon monoxide into the home. And while you won’t be able to smell or see carbon monoxide, Lowes.com reveals a way that we can detect it.

2. Look for orange flames. For those of us who own gas stoves, an orange flame coming from the burner can be a sign that carbon monoxide is present. Gas stoves, as you may know, generally emit blue flames. The site goes on to warn that you should never use an oven or cooking range to heat your home. Of course, this would just be silly – to put it mildly. But you’d be surprised at how many people have tried it.

3. Install a carbon monoxide detector. Lowes.com recommends that you install detectors near the bedrooms in your home. For those who own two-story homes, you should have a detector on each floor. Furthermore, be sure to change the batteries in the CO detector at least twice a year. And after five years, it’s a pretty good idea to replace the detectors for brand new ones. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

4. Hire professionals to do an inspection. Speaking of being safe rather than sorry, there is no better way to eliminate the health risks associated with carbon monoxide than to have your property thoroughly inspected by experts. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we take indoor air quality very seriously. And if you’ve been paying attention to our blogs on air quality, you’ll know exactly why you should as well.

We make it our mission to investigate the origin of your concern so that we can assist you with whatever is necessary to eliminate it. Our Air Quality Services seek to make your living space one that is free of air pollutants that can significantly damage your health. Carbon monoxide and radon are not easy to detect. But they will not escape us! For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Sniffing Out Radon And Its Impact On Our Health

Radon material signThe old saying “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” isn’t exactly true. Something tells us that we’ve pointed this out in a previous blog. And that’s because previous blogs have exposed some of the major health hazards that pollute our breathing air. The scary thing about many of them is that you don’t always know that they’re there. That certainly doesn’t mean that they won’t hurt you though. That’s for sure.

Take carbon monoxide, for example. It’s a colourless, odourless gas that is commonly referred to as “the silent killer”. As you can tell by its less-than-complimentary moniker, the worst ramification of carbon monoxide exposure is death. Sadly, it isn’t the only colourless, odourless gas that impacts our breathing air and our health. According to The Lung Association, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. It, too, can go undetected.

What is radon gas? Radon is a radioactive gas that cannot be detected by the senses. As Health Canada explains it, it “is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. As a gas, radon is slowly released from the ground, water, and some building materials that contain very small amounts of uranium, such as concrete, bricks, tiles and gyproc.” And it can present quite a problem in our homes.

How does radon get in our homes? Since radon comes out of soil and water, it has the ability to seep into the cracks of our houses. It generally enters the home through openings in unfinished floors, basements, crawlspaces, pipes, windows and sump pumps, says The Lung Association. The impact of radon in the home can be especially harmful if there is poor ventilation. This will trap the dangerous gas inside.

Health Canada provides a bit more of a definitive depiction of how our homes can become radon-filled: “A house can act like a vacuum for underground gases. The air pressure inside your house is usually lower than in the soil surrounding the foundation. This difference in pressure is caused by things like the use of air exchangers, exhaust fans and clothes dryers. When air is pushed out of the house, outside air is pulled back in to replace it – much of the replacement air comes from the ground surrounding the house and brings gases such as radon with it.”

How does radon affect our health? Well, we know that lung cancer is an unfortunate result of radon exposure. And while Health Canada assures us that there is no evidence of any other harmful health effects, they do note that symptoms can worsen if you are a smoker. Not surprisingly, a person’s risk of developing lung cancer after being exposed to radon significantly increases if they smoke.

How common is radon-induced lung cancer? “On average, 16% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to radon exposure in Canada,” reports Health Canada, “In 2006, an estimated 1,900 lung cancer deaths in Canada were due to radon exposure. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.” Needless to say, for the best chances of clean breathing air, smoking must be avoided at all costs.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are focused on making your breathing air the cleanest that it can be. Radon is one of the most worrisome issues when it comes to indoor air quality because of its “can’t see it, can’t smell it” nature. We offer Air Quality Services that exhaust all resources in locating air pollutants in the home. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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