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Asbestos Remains A Health Threat To Canadians In Spite Of Recent Ban

When the federal government finally announced a comprehensive nationwide ban of asbestos, just before the new year, Canadians were elated to learn of this huge step towards better health. It’s widely known that asbestos is a deadly substance. Commonly used in the construction of homes and buildings prior to the 1990s, its airborne fibres are known for causing fatal diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Naturally, the announcement that, by 2018, asbestos would be completely banned from Canada was met with widespread approval considering that asbestos-related diseases take the lives of about 2,000 Canadians every year. We have closely monitored news of the asbestos ban in addition to covering the harmful effects of asbestos in our blog. We’ve regularly pointed out that the impacts of exposure to asbestos are long-lasting.

What this means is that, unfortunately, even with asbestos ultimately becoming outlawed in Canada, it still has the opportunity to wreak havoc. Buildings that already contain the substance present health risks to anyone who enters them. Just last week, CBC News reported that there was an asbestos leak in two labs at the University of Toronto. Evidently, due to the renovations taking place at the university’s Medical Sciences Building, asbestos fibres were released.

According to the report, “the fibres were found in three separate instances in February and March in dust-samples at lab-related rooms on the St. George campus — months after the university began work to remove the substance from seven locations on the 50-year-old building’s third, sixth and seventh floors as part of a $190-million project to improve labs across its three campus.”

Scott Mabury is the vice-president of university operations at U of T. In an interview with CBC News, he revealed some of the culprits for the asbestos leak. One of the individuals working on the renovation project drilled a hole in a wall causing a pile of dust containing asbestos to fall to the floor. In another incident, asbestos-laden dust escaped an area that was insufficiently sealed. And in a third, air pressure forced out dust-containing asbestos from a service shaft.

Both the CBC News report and a report from The Globe and Mail did not indicate that any students or faculty members were directly exposed to the asbestos leak. However, there is an understandable concern.

“The U of T’s Faculty Association questioned the university’s handling of the situation, saying it is ‘extremely concerned that asbestos contamination may have adversely affected our members as well as students and others at the MSB, and that their health and safety continue to be at risk,’” reports Tavia Grant of The Globe and Mail.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are well aware that, in spite of the recent ban, Canadians will continue to suffer the effects of asbestos exposure. As always, it is our sincere hope that we can do our part to minimize as much damage as possible. For more information about our Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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The Importance Of Vacuuming To Promote Optimum Health

There is a growing trend emerging in homes all across Canada. And that is to rip up carpets and have them replaced with hardwood floors. The commonplace thinking behind this trend is that hardwood floors provide more desirable and even sophisticated appearances to living spaces. Further to that, homeowners feel that hardwood floors increase the value of their homes.

And there are those who believe that hardwood floors are easier to keep clean than carpets. This is especially true in the event of spills. These people wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, the concept of cleanliness is one that speaks to a larger issue: the health of Canadians nationwide. It can be stated with confidence that the less carpet you have in your home, the more likely you will be to avoid numerous health concerns. Sufferers of asthma and other allergies know this all too well. Simply put, carpet is a breeding ground for allergens and other allergy-triggering irritants.

“When you vacuum, you’re not simply cleaning your house or apartment for appearance’s sake, you’re also safeguarding the health of yourself and your family,” insists Jason Roberts on VacuumsGuide.com, “There are dozens of tiny microbes constantly floating around, which can cause a lot of problems for people with asthma and inhalant-related allergies such as hay fever. Dust mites, bacteria, and mould attack an asthma sufferer’s respiratory system, making them wheeze, have difficulty breathing, and cough violently at night.”

Roberts also provides an infographic that offers up ten different reasons why we should all be vacuuming our homes at least once a week. Topping the list is the fact that we all shed millions of skin cells by the hour. They accumulate in our carpets and rugs, creating environments that are rife with dangerous microorganisms.

Because of this, experts often recommend taking vacuuming practices a step further. On FullHouseCS.ca, A.J. Pipkin discusses the importance of installing a quality HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner. “Dirt, hair and dust particles can trigger the onset of allergy symptoms if there is a large amount of dust mites in your home carpets or in the air,” he points out, “Not vacuum cleaning regularly will cause those in your home to be unprotected from allergies and asthma symptoms.”

Regular vacuuming is an even more essential requirement for smokers. It’s important to note that the reality of “thirdhand smoke” can impact the health of non-smokers who enter environments where a smoker had previously lit up. Roberts’ infographic reveals that carcinogens and other substances from cigarettes can “impregnate” carpets, rugs and upholstery. This has the ability to increase the risk of cancer in both children and pets.

And, by the way, it’s time to do away with the so-called “five second rule” that many people practice towards dropped food. When people drop food on the floor, it should be recognized as immediately contaminated. The infographic explains that our floors carry Salmonella, E-coli and other viruses that have the potential to wreak havoc on our digestive systems. This provides all the more reason to regularly vacuum our floors, regardless if they are carpeted or not.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we know the importance of keeping a clean home. Our Air Quality Services focus on problem areas that may be presenting health hazards to your family and other visitors to the home. For more information on how we can help you to live in a healthier environment, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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3 Reasons Why Ventilation In The Home Is So Important

By this time next week, we will all be able to say that wintertime is over. Or will we? We Canadians know better. The calendar may indicate the beginning of spring next Monday, but we understand that when frigid temperatures persist and there’s still snow on the ground – it is still winter. As a result, the time for opening our windows to let the fresh air come inside is still several weeks away. Here’s the thing though – it shouldn’t be.

In fact, it’s recommended that we all keep our windows open all winter long. No, we’re not saying that your windows should remain open all the time. Instead, we’re saying that it’s wise to let the fresh air from outside circulate with the stagnant air from inside for, at least, a few minutes every day – no matter how cold it is. The reason for this, quite obviously, is to promote ventilation. And ventilation in your home is incredibly important.

Here are three reasons why:

1. Ventilation helps to lower VOC concentrations. Our homes are filled with harmful VOCs. Volatile organic compounds are found in many of our household cleaning products, furnishings, paints and carpets. If you can smell the scents that emanate from these household items, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re in the presence of VOCs. In high concentrations, VOCs are toxic.

However, as Dustin DeTorres explains on ZehnderAmerica.com, VOC concentrations can be decreased with ventilation. “Maintaining adequate ventilation can help to control concentrations of existing VOCs within a home, as it is nearly impossible to eliminate VOCs from indoor air,” he writes.

2. Ventilation helps to reduce condensation. Those droplets of water that often form on our windows are created when warm air hits cool surfaces. Because the warm air is no longer able to hold its moisture when it is cooled, it ends up forming water droplets in various parts of our homes. Windows, walls, furniture – these are all locations where condensation may be present in the home. The problem is that these collections of moisture promote the development of mould.

“Condensation is the most common form of dampness and will eventually lead to mould growth,” explains Envirovent.com, “If it is left to develop over time then damp patches may start to appear on walls, which means that wallpaper may peel and ultimately black mould will grow. This leads to musty smells, damage to the fabric of the house and it can even result in health problems.”

3. Ventilation helps to filter our allergens. In last week’s blog, we highlighted some of the issues presented by dust mites. Known allergens, the waste products left behind by dust mites are often triggers for asthma attacks. When we ventilate our homes, we give ourselves better opportunities to filter out such allergens as dust, pet dander, pollen and other irritants that can become trapped and concentrated inside our homes.

“Proper ventilation will help to remove large particles and dust from the air,” says DeTorres, “This can effectively help to reduce allergy symptoms, making the indoor air much more comfortable for allergy sufferers.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we strongly advocate ventilation of the home all year round. As part of our commitment to helping Canadians live healthy lives, we offer Air Quality Services that work to eliminate health hazards from the air in their homes. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Winning The Battle Against Dust Mites With Regular Bed Sheet Washing

How often do you think you should wash your bed sheets? Some people wash their bed sheets once a week. Some decide to throw them in the washer every other week. And some even think that once a month will suffice. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we highly recommend the weekly routine. As Marisa Ramiccio puts it on SymptomFind.com, “if you’re washing your sheets only once a month, that’s not going to cut it. Your sheets need to be washed at least every other week, but weekly is ideal.”

Why is it so important to wash your bed sheets at least once a week? Let’s consider how often you sleep and what you leave behind when you sleep. On average, you’re in your bed approximately eight hours each night – that is, of course, if you’re getting the recommended amount of sleep for optimum health. Let’s suppose that you’re in your clothes for approximately the same amount of time each day. Usually, you’ll put them in the wash after one wear, right?

When you sleep, you leave behind hair, oil, sweat, bodily fluids and even food crumbs (for those in-the-bed snackers). We also leave behind a bunch of dead skin cells. And, as far as dust mites are concerned, this means you’ve left behind a scrumptious buffet meal! Your body sheds about a million skin cells a day. So, as you can imagine, this attracts a lot of dust mites who practically live in your bed.

What are dust mites? Dust mites are microscopic bugs that aren’t visible to the naked eye. As Ramiccio explains, “these little things live, die and reproduce in the same bed sheets that you sleep in. The only way to keep these creatures under control is to wash your bed sheets on a regular basis. Otherwise, you may develop an allergy, or even a lowered immune system.”

On AllergicLiving.com, Dory Cerny goes into greater detail about these “cousins to the spider”. She explains that “they spend their two to four months of life eating, creating waste and reproducing. A female will lay 100 eggs in her lifetime, and each mite produces about 10 to 20 waste pellets a day…Mites eat minuscule flakes of human skin and animal dander. They can’t drink, but absorb moisture from the atmosphere.”

So how do dust mites impact our health? The waste produced by dust mites is a known allergen that triggers asthma attacks. Because dust mites thrive on warmth and moisture, your mattress and bed sheets are often sought out as their ideal homes. The skin flakes and other above mentioned things that we all leave in our beds are consumed by dust mites, giving them more opportunities to leave behind allergy-triggering waste products.

“An average mattress contains between 100,000 and 10 million bugs,” informs Cerny, “A study in 2000 found that more than 45 per cent of American homes had detectable dust mite levels associated with the development of allergies, and 23 per cent had bedding with concentrations of allergen high enough to trigger asthma attacks.” This is why regular bed sheet washing is so important. Washing your sheets in hot water on a weekly basis is the best way to win the battle against dust mites.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we strongly promote the need for Canadians to live in healthy homes. This is why we’re so proud to offer Air Quality Services that work to eliminate health hazards from the air we breathe. 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 To Minimize The Risk Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

What is carbon monoxide? Also known as CO, carbon monoxide is an odourless, tasteless and colourless gas that is made when substances such as oil, coal, wood, gasoline, propane and natural gas are burned. It is also found in second-hand smoke from cigarettes. CO is known as the “silent killer” because of our inabilities to detect it without the help of carbon monoxide detectors. Its nickname is apt. CO is known to cause illness and death.

What puts us at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning? Many of our homes contain appliances that run on fuel. They include furnaces, wood stoves, water heaters and boilers. Especially during the winter months, when our homes require heating from within, these appliances are put to greater use. As a result, the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning increases.

There are also a number of items that we tend to keep in our garages that can also be sources of carbon monoxide. When kept in such an unventilated area as a garage, generators, charcoal grills and vehicle exhausts can create concentrated amounts of CO that may seep into our homes. Chimneys are also known for housing carbon monoxide.

On NewsCanada.com, a tragic story about retired Ontario firefighter, John Gignac’s family highlights all too well the dangers of having a blocked chimney vent. In late 2008, Gignac lost his niece, her husband and their two children due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Their chimney vent was blocked and the family didn’t have a carbon monoxide alarm. A national charitable foundation was set up by Gignac in the family’s memory.

He has made it his mission to protect other families from suffering the same fate. Gignac highlights the fact that you don’t need a chimney or a fireplace to be at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. As mentioned, there are a number of gas-burning appliances that are known culprits for emitting the deadly and undetectable gas into our homes.

“People need to take this threat seriously and realize that it comes from sources beyond just furnaces and fireplaces,” Gignac is quoted as saying, “Year-round we use gas stoves and water heaters and park vehicles in garages and attached carports. Never let down your guard…People think they don’t need a carbon monoxide alarm because they have electric heat and no fireplace. But when I ask them if they have a gas stove or water heater, or attached garage or carport, they realize their families have been at risk for years.”

How do you know if your home has put you at risk for CO poisoning? It’s important to look out for the symptoms. When we breathe in carbon monoxide, it reduces our bodies’ abilities to carry oxygen in the blood. Shortness of breath, therefore, is an obvious symptom to watch for. At low levels, the symptoms of CO poisoning also include fatigue, headaches and muscle weakness. At higher levels, symptoms include dizziness, chest pain and problems with vision and concentrating.

What can be done to minimize the risk of CO poisoning? Getting a carbon monoxide detector is highly recommended. Smoke alarms only alert you to the presence of smoke, not CO. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we know how important it is to take measures to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. We offer Air Quality Services that detect any indoor air quality problems including CO.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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