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Indoor Air Quality and Environmental Experts

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Feet in wool socks warming by cozy fireIn our last blog, we explored a few of the ways that cold weather can impact air quality. We noted that the colder air keeps pollutants closer to the ground, making it harder for many of us to breathe. This is especially true for asthmatics. As well, we noted that warming up the car – a common cold weather practice – serves to emit more carbon monoxide into our air than normal. But does cold weather also impact indoor air quality?

According to Senior Life Newspapers, it sure does. They report that the American Lung Association finds that “while cold weather is not often thought of as an asthma trigger, the cold, dry winter air does affect people with asthma.” And while asthma sufferers are most likely to be impacted by colder weather, it’s important for everyone to take precautions during the colder months of the year – even when they are inside.

Here are three ways that cold weather affects indoor air quality:

1. It encourages fireplace use. Naturally, we all wish to stay warmer during the colder months of the year. The idea of snuggling up on the couch underneath a blanket is a welcome one during the winter. And while there’s nothing wrong with staying indoors, it often brings about the need to use fireplaces to keep the indoor air comfortably warm. What could be so bad about using a fireplace during the winter?

According to Alberta’s Fort Air Partnership, fireplaces produce similar harmful effects as car emissions. “Some sources of pollution, like industrial emissions, stay fairly constant throughout the year, no matter what the season,” reads their website, “But roaring fireplaces and wood stoves and idling vehicles in the winter all add up to higher levels of particulate matter (the particles that make up smoke) and carbon monoxide (from vehicle emissions).”

2. It limits ventilation. During the summer months, it makes perfect sense to keep your windows open. Most people love the idea of welcoming fresh air into their homes in an effort to allow the stagnant air from within to escape. Allowing for air to circulate throughout your home is a good idea, especially considering that good ventilation helps to lower the amount of mould-causing moisture in the home. The winter, however, takes away this freedom.

“Indoor air quality also becomes a greater concern during the winter because of the amount of time that people stay inside with poor ventilation,” notes Fort Air Partnership, “Without adequate circulation, carbon dioxide levels can become an issue, leading to headaches and lethargy. Generally, outdoor air quality is better than indoor air, so the best antidote is to get outside regularly, open windows for short periods if possible and keep fireplaces and ventilation systems clean and maintained.”

3. It increases the ability to spread germs. The longer that we’re cooped up indoors, the easier it is to succumb to the passing along of germs. Without an escape route to the outside world, germs that are sneezed or coughed out by our family members and friends can more easily be picked up. Of course, this is why it is recommended that you stay home from school or work when you are sick.

Your indoor air quality is important all year round. But with the colder months of the year approaching, it will be especially important to be on top of routines that will promote clean air within the confines of your home. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Air Quality Services to maximize the benefits you receive from your home’s indoor air quality. For more information, call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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