Indoor air quality should be a big concern for all Canadians. And it’s not just because we spend so much time inside of our homes. We spend a lot of time at work, as well. And, for so many of us, work also takes place within the confines of indoor facilities. As you can imagine, some jobs create environments where the air is continuously compromised. Take any manufacturing company, for example.
The processes of welding, gouging, grinding, cutting, painting, sand or abrasive blasting, electroplating and other tasks can send a variety of harmful chemicals into the air. Not to mention, an abundance of noise can also add to the pollution that one endures during the course of his or her day at work. When people are regularly exposed to gases and other fumes, it can result in very serious health issues.
How do workplace chemicals enter the body? No one will be surprised to hear that pollutants in the air can be inhaled throughout each day. But as the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety explains, people can also absorb harmful chemicals in the workplace via skin contact, the digestive system (if they are ingested or eaten) and injection (through accidental punctures from sharp objects).
“The eyes may also be a route of entry,” explains the CCOHS, “Usually, however, only very small quantities of chemicals in the workplace enter through the mouth or the eyes. Regardless of the way the chemical gets into the body, once it is in the body it is distributed to anywhere in the body by the blood stream. In this way, the chemicals can attack and harm organs which are far away from the original point of entry as well as where they entered the body.”
Why is indoor air quality of special importance in the workplace? When people are at home, they are generally in relaxed states. At work, however, they are often more active. This invokes harder breathing which promotes the inhalation of more dangerous chemicals, if they exist in the air. This is especially true for those who work job positions that demand hard physical labour, says the CCOHS.
“In conditions of hard physical work, up to 10,000 litres may be exchanged,” unveils their website, “Air breathed in through the nose is filtered by the nasal hairs so that large, solid particles in the atmosphere are prevented from going any further. Inside the nose there are small bones and cartilages that cause the inhaled air to swirl around. This swirling air can cause some large contaminating particles to be deposited in the nose and trapped by the moisture of the mucus lining.”
Which workplace chemicals are of the greatest concern? There is a wide variety of gases, vapours, mists, dusts, fumes and smoke that can present health hazards at workplaces of all kinds. It should come as no surprise to you that, in some older buildings, asbestos exposure is a major concern too. This is why testing the workplace for the presence of such harmful contaminants is so important for the health of all of those who work within it.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Monitoring Services. They include evaluations of your facility, data collection and the development of solutions to any problems that may exist within the workplace. Our consultants will also answer any direct questions pertaining to exposure. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s so annoying, isn’t it? Even the neatest of neat freaks notice that irritating black mould that always seems to find its way to grow in the tiles of our shower stalls. Even with regular weekly cleanings, they won’t disappear. Some of us get used to it and seem content to just leave it as it is. After all, it’s been there for so long, it’s practically part of the decor! But then, there are those of us who simply need to eliminate black mould from our lives.
There are many solutions to the black mould problem, but not all of them appear to be worthwhile. Bleach, for example, is highly heralded as a mould killer. However, while it is effective in killing mould in non-porous materials such as tiles, bathtubs, glass and countertops, it cannot penetrate into porous materials. This means that mould growing beneath the surface of such materials as wood and drywall cannot be removed.
So what are the safest and most effective ways to rid our bathrooms of black mould? Here are three suggestions:
1. Borax. This white, powdered product easily dissolves in water to become and effective black mould remover. According to Cleanipedia.com, your best bet is to mix a cup of borax with a gallon of water and transfer the solution to a clean spray bottle. Spray the black mould, leave it for a few minutes and then wipe it away. The end result should be a clean, shiny, mould-free surface.
As Blackmold.Awardspace.com informs us, “there are many advantages to using borax to kill mould. For starters, borax is a natural cleaning product and although it is toxic if you swallow it, borax does not emit chemicals or dangerous fumes like some other mould killers…Borax is commonly used as a deodorizer as well as for cleaning toilets and drains…You can buy borax in supermarkets for a few dollars from the laundry section.”
2. Vinegar. Household vinegar is often championed as an effective cleanser. And it just so happens that it is also a reliable remover of black mould. Cleanipedia.com also advises that you spray white distilled vinegar on to the affected area of your bathroom. A few hours later, says the website, both the noticeable smell of the vinegar and the black mould you wish to remove should disappear.
Blackmold.Awardspace.com agrees that vinegar is both a safe and effective mould killer. “Vinegar is a mild acid which can kill 82% of mould species,” reports the website, “However it also has the advantages of being natural and safe. Vinegar is non-toxic and doesn’t give off dangerous fumes like bleach does.” The site also recommends that vinegar be regularly used to clean surfaces in order to keep surfaces mould-free.
3. Baking soda. Baking soda is also often used as a natural and safe household cleaner. Many people use it as a deodorizer as well. Baking soda, however, is a known mould killer. Without any harsh chemicals, it can be trusted to clean your home without causing any health hazards. Blackmold.Awardspace.com informs that, in conjunction with vinegar, baking soda make a very effective mould remover.
“You’ll need one teaspoon of washing up liquid, one cup of baking soda, and a few drops of something fragrant (we recommend lavender or citrus oil),” advises Cleanipedia.com, “Then add water and mix until the solution becomes a viscous paste and you’re done – a natural black mould remover.” The one problem, however, that these cleansers can’t solve is removing mould that you can’t see!
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. we offer Mould Assessment Services which include techniques that allow us to assess, analyze and report on any mould found in your home or other property. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email email@example.com.
Those who suffer with asthma never take their breathing for granted. Most of us go through each day not even paying attention to the fact that we are continually inhaling and exhaling – no matter where we are. Asthmatics, on the other hand, know that the quality of the air they breathe is of paramount importance. Avoiding asthma symptom triggers is part of their everyday lives – and so many of those triggers can be avoided by paying close attention to indoor air quality.
What asthma symptom triggers are most often associated with indoor air quality?
Humidity. When we are at home, we have the ability to determine just how humid it is. The more humidity that exists, the more an asthmatic is susceptible to succumbing to the symptoms of his/her disease. The presence of excess moisture is a sign that it’s too humid. And moisture allows for the growth of mould and mildew – two contaminants of the air that can make breathing harder for those with asthma.
“Keeping the humidity in the air in your home between 30 and 50 percent can help asthma symptoms,” says Dr. Farrokh Sohrabi on EverydayHealth.com, “Any higher, and dust mites thrive. Mold also grows in high humidity. If your home is damp and humid, clean with fungicides and use a dehumidifier, an air filtration system, or central air conditioning. On the other hand, if the air is too dry, your respiratory tract reacts.”
Dust. It’s highly recommended that asthmatics are neat freaks. Keeping a dust-free home is a great way to improve its indoor air quality and minimize the amount of asthma symptom triggers that exist within it. The presence of dust indicates the presence of dust mites – microscopic creatures known for feeding on the flakes of dead skin that we leave behind. Their feces contain enzymes that are major contributors to the symptoms experienced by asthmatics.
Dr. Sohrabi offers tips to diminish the amount dust mites that are commonly found where we sleep. “One of the easiest and fastest steps you can take to keep these tiny insects under control is to cover bedding with mite-proof barriers, zippered covers in which you encase your mattress and pillows,” he suggests, “Then wash all your linens at least once a week in hot water — 150 degrees; anything less won’t kill the critters.”
Smoke. It shouldn’t be necessary to inform you that cigarette smoking is probably the worst thing you could possibly do if you’re an asthmatic. There are asthmatics out there who couldn’t smoke if they were paid a million dollars to do it. The smoke is simply too unbearable to inhale. However, smoke of any kind is a trigger for most asthmatic symptoms. So you’ll want to keep your home smoke-free if you want to avoid an attack.
“You probably know you shouldn’t smoke or let people light up inside your house, but smoke from a wood stove or fireplace could cause you just as much trouble,” says Dr. Sohrabi, “Hot, dry air tends to trigger asthma. On top of that, wood stoves emit volatile organic acids that cause even more drying…Keep in mind that smoke from cooking can also trigger asthma, so run the exhaust fan to clear out kitchen fumes.”
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Air Quality Services that greatly assist with limiting the asthma symptom triggers that may exist in your home. We consider ourselves indoor air quality experts given our long standing history of being able to locate any and all sources of air contaminants in the properties we inspect. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Canada, it’s common for homes to be constructed with air-tight capabilities. Considering the lengths of our cold winters, it can be understood why homeowners would want to keep their homes sealed and protected from the frigid elements of the outdoors. However, as we’ve discussed in numerous blogs of past, it’s of vital importance that people ventilate their homes. And we don’t just mean opening up the windows!
Why is ventilation so important? First of all, it’s important to remind you that Canadians spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. And, naturally, the majority of that time is spent in their own homes. So, it’s reasonable to suggest that the majority of the air we breathe is found in our homes. If our homes aren’t properly ventilated, we stand to be breathing in poor quality air throughout the majority of our lives.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety lists four main purpose of ventilation. Firstly, it provides a continuous supply of fresh outside air. Secondly, ventilation helps to maintain temperature and humidity at comfortable levels. Thirdly, it reduces potential fire or explosion hazards. And finally, proper ventilation of our homes helps to remove or dilute airborne contaminants.
Although it may appear obvious, it should be highlighted that airborne contaminants in the home lead to respiratory problems and other health issues. Without proper ventilation, homes are susceptible to atmospheres that are filled with allergens, smoke, bacteria, viruses, mildew, mould, fungus and gases. In previous blogs, we’ve also pointed out that odourless and colourless gases such as carbon monoxide and radon pose health risks when they can’t escape our homes.
How can we ensure proper ventilation of our homes? Earlier, we pointed out that the opening of your home’s windows was not the only solution to the ventilation issue. However, it shouldn’t be discounted either. Even when temperatures are low, it’s wise to allow some of the fresh air from outside to circulate with the stale air from inside. You don’t have to keep the windows open for very long in order to improve the indoor air quality of your home.
Health Canada also strongly recommends that you regularly use your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. This is especially important during cooking and bathing when excess moisture is being released into the air. “Bathroom and kitchen fans remove pollutants directly from the room where they are created,” they inform. Health Canada goes on to mention that homes are now being built to include mechanical systems that work to bring more of the outdoor air inside.
The Canadian Home Builders’ Association explains further. “Many new homes come with a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), which is a whole-house system that continuously brings in fresh air from the outside to all living areas of your home and exhausts the stale air,” their website explains, “To make sure the system is not simply bringing in problems from the outside, the incoming air is filtered. It is also pre-heated by the outgoing air to save energy—this is the ‘heat recovery’ part of the system.”
How else can your home’s indoor air quality be improved? As you’re very likely aware, DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. takes the indoor air quality of Canadian homes very seriously. Our Air Quality Services are designed to maximize inspection processes so that they locate any and all causes of concern in the homes of our clients. If you’re looking to guarantee that your home is a safe place to live, please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how we can help you!
You can call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email us at email@example.com.
This certainly isn’t our first blog post about radon. And it definitely won’t be our last. But this blog does represent a very special first! DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. is very proud to announce the addition of Radon Services to the list of services we provide. Given the fact that radon exposure is a growing concern in Canada, we felt it was best to specialize in the detection of this radioactive gas.
What is radon? To bring you up to speed, radon is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It is a colourless and odourless gas so, needless to say, it cannot be detected by sight or smell. When radon escapes from the ground and mixes in with the outdoor air, it is not generally a health concern. This is because its outdoor release results only in low concentrations.
So when does radon become dangerous? When trapped in enclosed spaces – such as your home – radon can accumulate to very high concentrations. And because we can’t smell or see it, we can unknowingly expose ourselves to it. The problem is that radon exposure in high concentrations is known for developing lung cancer. As a result, it’s of vital importance that people test their homes with the help of professionals.
How does radon get into the home? The gas is known to enter properties through openings and cracks that exist where there is soil connecting to the property. According to Health Canada, such openings can include “cracks in foundation walls and in floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.”
Is radon exposure really that big of a concern? In a CBC News report, Michael Pereira confirms that radon is actually the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in Canada. This is of great concern, as radon levels are apparently increasing throughout the country. In his report, he highlights the fact that a 2012 Health Canada report found that 6.9 per cent of Canadians are living in homes that have radon levels that are considered to be too high.
What level of radon is considered dangerous? Pereira informs us that the Canadian guidelines for radon is 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). “CBC News has obtained and plotted the data showing the results of approximately 14,000 radon tests in homes across Canada,” he writes, “Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada, causing an estimated 3,000 deaths a year.”
Pereira goes on to state that since radon levels can vary from house to house, Health Canada recommends that all Canadians test their homes for radon. Naturally, at DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we treat these findings very seriously. We consider it our duty to provide our clients with the greatest possible help in detecting contaminants in the air of their homes and workspaces.
Our new Radon Services are designed to determine for our clients the exact levels of radon in their homes and offices and whether or not they are safe. As always, we are committed to ensuring that your indoor air quality is the best it can be. For more information about our new Radon Services, please don’t hesitate to call DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. at 1-855-668-3131. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.