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How Does Cold Weather Impact Air Quality?

blonde wrapped in pullover by cold weatherWelcome to the end of summer. For many Canadians, this is a very sad time of year. While the calendar doesn’t officially indicate summer’s end (we still have until the 21st), the fact that it’s the first day of school for most students across Canada today, signifies that summer vacation is indeed over. Hopefully, we still have several warm and sunny days ahead of us. But, we all know what’s coming. It’s bound to get colder sooner than later!

Canadians are pretty much experts when it comes to preparing for cold weather. Most of us probably have our winter jackets, scarves, mittens and toques all ready to go. But the impending colder weather has implications other than the need to bundle up. How does it affect the air we breathe? Naturally, the air is colder. And for those with respiratory issues, that can present some problems.

What respiratory issues can cold weather cause? Alberta’s Fort Air Partnership notes that warmer air has the ability to carry pollutants away. Contrasting warm air’s tendency to rise, colder air stays closer to the Earth’s surface and, therefore, is more likely to keep pollutants closer to our lungs. The Fort Air Partnership website notes that this is a “weather phenomenon called temperature inversions.”

“In other seasons or weather conditions, warm air sits near the ground and the air can rise easily and carry away pollutants,” the site informs us, “In a temperature inversion, cold air is trapped near the ground by a layer of warm air. The warm air acts like a lid, holding these substances down. During a temperature inversion, smoke can’t rise and carbon monoxide can reach unhealthy levels.”

Who is most affected by cold weather conditions? As you may have guessed, those who have respiratory issues such as asthma and other allergies get it the worst when the cold weather hits. As a result, such individuals are advised to take extra precautions when they are outside in the cold. According to Senior Life Newspapers, there are some recommendations made by the American Lung Association that asthmatics should follow.

They include preparing for winter conditions by wearing scarves over their noses and mouths in order to prevent asthma attack symptoms. As well, “when an individual with asthma experiences a mild attack, it is recommended to stay calm, administer prescribed relief medication, take slow deep breaths, and sips of water or warm liquids. Signs of a mild asthma attach include a continuous cough, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or restlessness and irritability.”

How else does the cold make breathing more difficult? You know how you can see your breath when it’s cold outside? You can see the fumes from car exhausts too, can’t you? Fort Air Partnership informs us that the cold doesn’t just make this vapour more visible to the eye – it increases the level of pollution as well. They note that idling vehicles in the winter (a common occurrence as a method of warming cars up before driving) only add carbon monoxide to the air.

Thankfully, we shouldn’t have to worry about severely cold weather conditions for several more weeks. But, it certainly pays to be prepared for when it comes. In our next blog, we will explore ways that you can improve your home’s indoor air quality during the winter. Believe it or not, cold weather conditions don’t just impact the air outside. Will you be prepared to safeguard your home this winter?

For more information about the Air Quality Services offered by DF Technical & Consulting Services, don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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4 Ways To Limit Mould Growth In Your Home

strawberry with mold fungus, no longer suitable for consumptionIn our last blog, we revisited the importance of minimizing mould growth in the home. It sounds easier said than done. To be honest, we’ve all likely come across some mould in our homes at some point. Seeing it develop on food that’s been left out too long isn’t all that uncommon. And those bathroom tiles always seem to need a little extra scrubbing, don’t they? Preventing mould might not always be possible. But limiting it is.

Here are four ways to limit mould growth in your home:

1. Get rid of materials that have been soaked. We’re sorry to have to tell you this, but if you’ve experienced a flood in your home, your water-damaged materials are going to have to go. Mould can quickly grow where there is dampness and moisture. And it doesn’t take a flood to make things in your home damp and moist. Heidi Hill of the Mother Nature Network points this out pretty clearly.

“If you’ve experienced a flood, remove water-damaged carpets, bedding, and furniture if they can’t be completely dried,” she advises, “Even everyday occurrences need attention: don’t leave wet items lying around the house, and make sure to dry the floor and walls after a shower. Don’t leave wet clothes in the washing machine, where mould can spread quickly. Hang them to dry — preferably outside or in areas with good air circulation.”

2. Keep your bathrooms as spotless as possible. Keeping your bathroom clean isn’t just good news for your eyes and nose (who doesn’t like a clean looking and fresh smelling bathroom?), but it will work wonders in your quest to limit mould growth. Because bathrooms are where showers take place, they take top spot on the list of household rooms where you’ll find the most moisture.

Better Homes and Gardens highly recommends that you give your bathrooms some special attention. “Few rooms in the home see as much moisture and humidity as the bathroom,” notes their website, “Be sure your bathroom stays well-ventilated. An exhaust fan will help circulate the air and remove moisture more quickly. These additional actions will help keep your bathroom fresh and mould-free.”

3. Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! To piggyback off of one of the final points just made, it’s important to keep all rooms where moisture is bound to occur well ventilated. Your kitchen is no exception. This is why exhaust fans exist above your stove the same way they do in your bathroom. Use them! And whenever possible, be sure to crack open a window to allow fresh air to circulate and moisture to escape.

“It may be that your routine domestic activities are encouraging the growth of mould in your home,” says Hill, “Make sure an activity as simple as cooking dinner, taking a shower, or doing a load of laundry doesn’t invite mould by providing proper ventilation in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and any other high-moisture area. Vent appliances that produce moisture — clothes dryers, stoves — to the outside (not the attic).”

4. Contact DF Technical & Consulting Serviced Ltd. Our Mould Assessment Services are your go-to professional method of locating any and all traces of mould in your home. Through a number of comprehensive assessments, we analyze and report on any problem areas of your property. The mould in your home doesn’t stand a chance! For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Taking Measures To Minimize Mould In The Home

petri dish with developing mold specimen held by a hand in a blue rubber glove and a white lab coatNow that September is here, a lot of us are already planning for the fall. Slowly, but surely the weather is about to cool down and we’ll have to get set for chillier temperatures. For many Canadians, this is horrible news. Many of us can’t get enough of the warmth and sunshine. And for many others, the advent of autumn is a great time of year. With less heat, there is often less humidity. And with less humidity, there is less of a risk for mould to develop in our homes.

So what’s the big deal if mould grows in our homes? Well, firstly, it’s pretty unsightly. But secondly, and more importantly, it’s a health hazard. “Mould can grow anywhere: on carpet, clothing, food, paper, and even in places you can’t see, such as the backside of drywall, areas inside walls around leaking or condensing pipes, and above ceiling tiles,” explains Heidi Hill of the Mother Nature Network.

She goes to explain that removing mould from the home can be both difficult and expensive. What’s worse is that the allergens produced by mould can impact your health. This is especially true for people with asthma and allergies. Studies have shown that those who suffer from respiratory issues are most likely to feel the effects of airborne mould spores. But they are not alone. They can impact anyone’s health negatively.

What negative impacts can mould have on our health? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that a 2004 Institute of Medicine (IOM) study “found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mould with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.”

So what can be done to prevent mould growth? As we alluded to earlier, an excess of moisture provides the perfect breeding ground for mould development. So, it’s important to keep moisture in the home to minimum. Of course, moisture cannot be completely avoided. After all, everyone has to eat, clean and bathe. And all of these daily activities require the use of moisture-causing heat and water in some way.

So how do we limit moisture? According to Better Homes and Gardens, the first step involves checking areas in your home, such as damp basements and crawl spaces, where there is high humidity. “Mildew and mould can grow on wood products, ceiling tiles, cardboard, wallpaper, carpets, drywall, fabric, plants, foods, and insulation,” explains their website, “These growths can begin to develop on a damp surface within 24 and 48 hours and produce spores that travel through the air.”

It’s also important to keep the surfaces in your home as dry as possible. That includes wiping up spills immediately and not allowing liquid to accumulate and pool anywhere. “Mould can’t grow without moisture, so tackle wet areas right away,” advises Hill, “Seepage into the basement after a heavy rainfall, accumulation from a leaky pipe, even a spill on the carpet should be dried within 24 to 48 hours.”

You can also enlist the services of DF Technical & Consulting Serviced Ltd. to ensure that any traces of mould in your home are properly located. We provide Mould Assessment Services that seek to analyze and report on any problem areas of your home or office through a number of comprehensive assessments. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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