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How Does Humidity Impact Indoor Air Quality?

The rising humidity rate level rising on a thermometer past 100 percent to tell you of danger or uncomfortable weather conditions in the hot summer heatFor a lot of Canadians, summer is a favourite time of the year. To many, nothing beats warm and sunny days, especially after what always seems to be a long and drawn-out winter. To many others, however, the summer isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. When the sun is shining and the air is warm, there is often humidity. And with humidity comes difficulty breathing for those with allergies and asthma.

Sure, we can remain indoors and crank up the A/C. But no one likes staying cooped inside all summer long. What’s the fun in that? It’s important, of course, to control the humidity of our living and working spaces. As Coolray.com informs us, “when the temperatures warm up outside you can experience too much humidity in your home.” So it’s important to find ways to lower the levels of humidity at home.

What’s wrong with humidity in the home? Well, first of all, it doesn’t make for a comfortable living environment. As Theo Etzel points out on ConditionedAir.com, “moist air feels clammy and sticky, and dry air leaves you reaching for hydration. So, your level of comfort is affected by humidity.” He goes on to note that having either too much or too little humidity can also affect the structural damage of your home.

But how does humidity in the home affect our health? Humidity can cause condensation. And this excess moisture in the home can allow for the development of mould. The presence of mould, as you may already know, can send spores into the air that is detrimental to our respiratory systems. This is especially a problem for asthmatics. Coolray.com notes that there are other health hazards to having too much humidity in the home.

“High humidity can be especially dangerous when combined with high temperatures, as it will disrupt the body’s ability to cool itself, which may lead to a heat stroke,” reports the website, “People with heart problems or asthma are advised to be extremely careful during such conditions. Drier air provides comfort at higher temperatures, so homeowners can raise the setting on their central air conditioners thereby reducing their energy use.”

So what can be done to lower the humidity in our homes? Ventilation is the first step. Etzel writes that when homes are “tightly constructed”, they tend to retain more heat and moisture. Therefore, ventilation is especially important in order to minimize humidity levels. “If a home does not have the proper mechanical ventilation, excess water vapour can move through walls and ceilings, causing wet insulation, peeling paint, and mould on walls and woodwork,” he says.

Etzel also strongly recommends that you check your air conditioners to ensure that they are in proper working order. In some cases, you may even want to invest in a whole-house dehumidifier. “It operates in tandem with your central air conditioner to reduce mould and mildew, improve indoor air quality, extend the life of your A/C and help control your energy bills,” he informs us.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we highly recommend that you take advantage of our Moisture Monitoring Services. We evaluate your property for moisture sources that may be causing the development of mould. Such sources may include envelop failures or leakage issues. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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How Do Air Conditioners Impact Indoor Air Quality?

Depositphotos_15840471_s-2015With July in full swing, many of us are beginning to feel the heat of the summer. And while many of us love the idea of basking in the sun, many others are more comfortable in cooler temperatures. As a result, the use of air conditioners in our homes and offices are all the rage these days. While being warm can be pleasurable, being in a hot and sticky environment really isn’t fun for anyone. So, for most people, air conditioners are considered summer necessities.

But how do air conditioners affect indoor air quality? Yes, we know that air conditioning is meant to cool down our air. But does it help to keep it clean? Or does the opposite happen? Are pollutants simply swirling around us all day when the A/C is on? You’ll be happy to know that air conditioners are generally known to provide positive effects on the air that we breathe. Now that’s cool!

According to the Pure Living Blog, “air conditioners are beneficial insomuch as they help circulate and filter indoor air. Almost all air conditioners contain a filter that will remove allergens and other pollutants as it pulls air from inside the room. This can actually help reduce indoor air pollution, especially when the air quality outside is poor.” However, we can’t depend on air conditioners to keep our air clean without our help.

What can be done to ensure that air conditioners are purifying our air? It’s all about keeping them clean. Filters, as you are likely aware, require regular cleaning so that dust doesn’t build up too heavily. “Air conditioners that are not correctly maintained can create problems for people with asthma and allergies,” reports the Pure Living Blog, noting that dust, pet dander and pollen can often accumulate within A/C units.

How do you avoid the build up of pollutants in air conditioners? The blog advises that you replace the air filter inside your air conditioner according the manufacturer’s instructions. This is important because it not only helps to eliminate the presence of allergens in the air, it also helps to limit moisture, which is known to provide breeding grounds for mould. The Pure Living Blog points out that air conditioners remove moisture from the air to lower humidity.

On WebMD.com, Denise Mann agrees that well-maintained air conditioners can help to improve indoor air quality. She writes that Dr. Eric Schachter, who is the medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, believes that turning on the A/C in the summer can be good for our health. He points out the air conditioners have the ability to clean the air that we breathe.

How do air conditioners clean the air that we breathe? “Many pollutants are water-soluble, and as air conditioners remove water from the atmosphere, they remove these pollutants,” he is quoted as saying, “Air conditioners also remove pollen and particulate matter.” The Pure Living Blog backs this up by stating that “air conditioners that are maintained and used properly will not only keep you comfortable during the summer but will also help improve the air quality in your home.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are concerned about the air quality in your home. Our Air Quality Services work to ensure that the air that you breathe in your home is as pollutant-free as possible. Perhaps, it’s time we conduct an inspection. For more information on this and other services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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2 Important Ways To Do Away With Dust Mites

The illustration of a prohibition sign for house dust mitesIf you were asked how many living organisms live in your home, what you say? Chances are that you would mention the members of your family or any other residents of your home. Clearly, the question is posed in a pretty specific way. So you would also likely include your pets, if you have any. The truth is, however, that you would never know the true answer to the question. And that’s because of dust mites!

Sure, there are other living organisms in your home. The odd fly or other insect is bound to make its way into your living space. Dust mites, on the other hand, exist in uncountable numbers. They are so tiny and basically invisible to the naked eye that you could never prevent them from being among your home’s inhabitants. So what’s the big deal, right? Well, the truth is that dust mites can impact the quality of your air.

They are known for being allergens, especially to asthmatics. Therefore, reducing the amount of dust in your home is incredibly important. Yes, regular vacuuming can help. But you’ll want to be sure to take some measures that can improve your home’s overall indoor air quality on a long-term basis. This is especially important if you have small children or elderly people in your home, as they are more susceptible to allergens.

Here are two important ways to do away with dust mites:

1. Give dust mites less places to live. Try to limit the number of places where dust often accumulates. As WebMD.com points out, this includes carpet, upholstered furniture, and heavy drapes that collect dust. “Avoid furniture covered with fabrics,” insists the website, “Use pillow and mattress covers made from a tight-weave fabric that keeps out dust and mites.” You’ll also want to remove rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting and opt for hardwood floors instead.

If you wish to include carpeting in your home, it’s best to use smaller rugs that you can easily wash. WebMD.com admits that this can be tough for some people to accept. “Talk with your family about this and about how this will affect family life,” the site recommends, “If you cannot or do not want to remove carpeting throughout the home, consider removing it only in the bedroom.”

2. Become a consummate cleaner. Dust mites are known to live in our bedding. Sounds gross, doesn’t it? They literally lie with us while we are asleep! Instead of grossing yourself out any further at the thought, be sure to wash all of your bedding and blankets at least once a week in hot water. MedicineNet.com recommends that you use water that is at least 130-140°F in order to kill dust mites.

As well, the site recommends that you use damp mops and rags to remove dust. It’s not enough to simply use a feather duster. That will only spread the dust around. “Never use a dry cloth since this just stirs up mite allergens,” insists MedicineNet.com. It’s also not enough to vacuum with a regular cleaner. “Use a vacuum cleaner with either a double-layered microfilter bag or a HEPA filter to trap allergens that pass through a vacuum’s exhaust,” advises the site.

The quality of the air in your home is incredibly important for some very obvious reasons. While dust mites can’t be seen by the naked eye, they can certainly have an impact on our health. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Air Quality Services to ensure that the air you are breathing is as pure as it can be. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Working To Minimize VOCs During Your Next Paint Job

Blue color painting wall with rollerFor the most part, most of us enjoy keeping our homes clean and tidy. And, in many cases, part of keeping a well-kept home is keeping it freshly painted. You don’t necessarily need to go through big renovations to change the look and feel of a room. Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint is all that is necessary. However, we don’t often think about the health risks that are involved with painting.

What harm to our health could painting a room possibly cause? Well, it all depends on the type of paint that you use. If it contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a lot of harm can be caused. As GreenGuard.org explains it, “many VOCs are irritants and can cause headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation and dizziness. Long-term exposure to certain VOCs may lead to chronic diseases or cancer. At high concentrations, some VOCs are toxic.”

But how do VOCs get into our air? As long as you can smell a fresh coat of paint, you can bet that VOCs have been emitted. Jennifer from TheSmartMama.com explains that “VOCs are chemicals that contain at least one carbon atom and that easily evaporate at ambient temperature. VOCs are emitted as gases from certain liquids and solids. In other words, VOCs readily volatilize, or evaporate, out of the solid or liquid into the air we breathe.”

So how do we avoid breathing in VOCs? It’s important to locate a paint that has either low or no VOCs contained within it. Jennifer notes that there are generally two kinds of paints on the market: latex (water-based) paints and oil based paints. She writes that latex paints are better choices because they work to reduce toxic chemical exposures. This is because oil based paints use organic solvents that evaporate and pollute the air after application.

Jennifer goes on to point out, however, that you can’t always necessarily trust paints that are labelled as “low VOCs” or “zero VOCs”. She writes that while they “may have fewer toxins present than conventional paints…The assumption that paints labelled as odour-free or containing low or no VOC’s are free of toxicants is false. While these paints are environmentally friendly, and I am all for reducing smog, they may still have some toxic chemicals present.”

So how can we tell if certain paints are safe or not? “Look for the VOC content in grams per litre on the paint label – choose one with the lowest number,” advises Jennifer, “Generally speaking, and keeping in mind that VOC content is regulated for smog formation potential, not health effects, a paint that says ‘Maximum VOC Content: 45 grams/litre’ is preferable to one with a higher number.”

Painting rooms inside of your home is a tough enough job without having to worry about the potential health effects of doing so. However, it is a necessity to protect both yourself and your family from any dangers that may be looming as a result of paint fumes. Be sure to ventilate your home as much as possible during your paint job. And take measures to stay out of the room while the paint is drying.

If you’ve painted a bedroom, avoid sleeping in it until the paint has been completely dried and the smell of paint is no longer apparent. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we provide Air Quality Services to ensure that your home is enjoying the best possible indoor air quality. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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