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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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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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4 Household Cleaning Tips For Asthmatics

rear view of woman with yellow gloves in kitchen doing houseworkAsthmatics have it rough. The simple act of breathing – something most of us take for granted – can be an arduous task for those who suffer with asthma. Obviously, breathing air that is as pollutant-free as possible is important for everyone’s overall health. But, it goes without saying that asthmatics need to take special precautions to breathe the purest air possible. As a result, the indoor air quality of an asthmatic’s home is a top priority.

Most of us have some sort of cleaning regimen when it comes to the home. At least, on a weekly basis, we tend to do the laundry, vacuum the floors, scrub the bathrooms, dust the furniture and wipe down surfaces. Asthmatics, however, should follow some meticulous cleaning practices to ensure that they don’t leave room for triggers of their disease to get the better of them. Reducing the risk of asthma symptoms will play a huge role in their quest for better health.

Here are four household cleaning tips for asthmatics:

1. Keep a spotless kitchen. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, it’s important to ensure that your kitchen is immaculately clean. “Use an exhaust fan on a regular basis to remove cooking fumes and reduce moisture,” they insist, “Place garbage in a can with an insect-proof lid and empty trash daily. Store food—including pet food—in sealed containers, and discard moldy or out-of-date items.”

The AAAA & I also recommends that you mop the floor and wipe the cabinets, countertops backsplashes and appliances down at least once a week. Using a detergent and water solution is advised. As well, it’s important to limit moisture in the kitchen. Checking for plumbing leaks and wiping up all spills and condensation in the refrigerator area will help to ward off the development of mould – a known asthma trigger.

2. Eliminate dust from the bedroom. As we’ve blogged about before, dust mites are also known to trigger asthma symptoms. Significantly limiting their presence in your home will do a long way in keeping asthma attacks at bay. “Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust-mite-proof covers,” advises the AAAA & I, “Wash sheets, pillowcases and blankets weekly in 130o F water. Remove, wash or cover comforters.”

They also suggest that you vacuum your carpets at least once a week with a cleaner that has a small-particle or HEPA filter. Don’t forget your area rugs, floor mats and curtains either. They should be washed seasonally, says the AAAA & I. As well, they recommend that you “keep windows closed and use air conditioning during pollen season”. And if you have mould to clean up, be sure to wear a protective mask while doing it.

3. Keep the bathroom dry. This is practically impossible considering what bathrooms are used for. But bear in mind that limiting moisture is a key component to keeping an asthmatic’s home as safe as possible. The AAAA & I advises that you always use your exhaust fans during showers and to towel dry the tub after it has been used. In addition, you should “clean or replace mouldy shower curtains and bathmats (and) quickly repair any leaks.”

4. Don’t ignore the basement. Basements are known for becoming overly cluttered areas. When people stop using things, they often stick them in the basement. Before you know it, it becomes a makeshift junkyard. This presents a breeding ground for dust accumulation and mould growth in the damper areas. The AAAA & I recommends that you always clean wearing gloves and a mask. As well, remove any water-damaged carpeting.

When all else fails, DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. is here to help! For more information on our Air Quality Services, Moisture Monitoring Services or Mould Assessment Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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5 Rules For Asthmatics To Improve Indoor Air Quality

Young woman breathing fresh air during the summerHaving asthma is no fun. This statement would certainly be a top contender in the “Understatement Of The Century” category. Asthma is a debilitating disease that restricts the lungs from taking in enough oxygen. Some asthmatics have described its symptoms as having their chests “squeezed” or airways “closed off”. Needless to say, purified air is a necessity in the life of an asthmatic.

For sufferers of asthma, indoor air quality is an incredibly important topic that literally belongs in the “matters of life and death” column of discussions. And while improving indoor air quality is important for all people, asthmatics are required to take special measures to ensure that the air they are breathing is as pollutant-free as possible. So what are the best ways for asthmatics to improve their indoor air quality?

Following these five rules would be very helpful:

1. Insist upon a smoke-free living environment. It should probably go without saying that no asthmatic should smoke cigarettes, or anything else for that matter. For many asthma sufferers, smoke is the number one trigger for an attack. They should also ensure that no one smokes around them or inside of their homes. For many asthmatics, the mere smell of cigarette smoke is enough to get them coughing.

2. Avoid pets. There are many dog and cat lovers out there who suffer with asthma. It is best, however, that they avoid being pet owners in order to improve the air quality of their homes. As Elizabeth Shimer Bowers writes on EverydayHealth.com, “pet dander is one of the most problematic triggers when it comes to allergic asthma symptoms — it’s the proteins in a pet’s dander, saliva, and urine that aggravate asthma symptoms.”

3. Pass on the scented products. Many of us get tricked into thinking that our homes are clean and fresh when they smell that way. However, scented products can trigger asthma symptoms. So, as nice as they smell, they should be avoided. “Wash and dry clothes with unscented laundry detergent, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets,” advises HealthyKids.org, “Use unscented or nonaerosol versions of household cleaning products and avoid scented candles or room fresheners.”

4. Become a neat freak. If you’re the type of person who keeps a messy home, you’re not doing your respiratory system any favours. The more clutter that exists in your home, the more opportunities you provide for dust to collect. “Think of books, knickknacks, and stuffed animals as collection areas for dust and other allergens that can trigger allergic asthma,” says Bowers, “These items are better kept out of your living space and stored in plastic bins.”

5. Do away with dust. In keeping with the previous rule, you’ll want to ensure that dust doesn’t accumulate in the other parts of the home where it is known to gather. That includes your bathroom exhaust fans. Be sure to vacuum them out regularly. As well, HealthyKids.org recommends that you “clean all air ducts in the house and change the filters in your furnace and/or air conditioning system regularly.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we know how important it is for you to live in a home where the indoor air quality is the best it can be. If you suffer from asthma, however, the quality of your home’s air couldn’t be a more important issue. We’re here to help! For more information on our Air Quality Servies, 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 For Optimum Indoor Air Quality

Close up a young man vacuuming at homeNeat freaks rejoice! You’ll be happy to know that there’s no harm in dusting and vacuuming. That is, of course, unless you are consistently using scented cleaning products which contain VOCs. As explained by Cambria Bold on ApartmentTherapy.com, “Volatile Organic Compounds (are) a variety of organic chemicals that are released as gases from certain solids or liquids. They’re widely found in household products, including paints and varnishes, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, building materials and furnishings.”

And while it’s important to choose your household cleaning products wisely, it’s just as important to use a strong vacuum. Believe it or not, your indoor air quality is not only significantly affected by what is sprayed in your home. You can’t always rely on smelling pollutants to know that they are there. Eliminating dust is incredibly important in maintaining the cleanest breathing air in your home and office possible.

This is why Bold highly recommends that you “invest in a very good vacuum with strong suction, rotating brushes, and a HEPA filter, which traps smaller particles and allergens that regular vacuums miss.” The presence of dust, as you might know, encourages an infestation of dust mites. And although they are so tiny, they practically can’t be seen by the naked eye, they are known to severely impact indoor air quality.

On CleanLink.com, Bob Croft explains that “dust generated inside the building includes soot, bacteria, allergens, paper dust, mould and dust mite droppings.” He goes on to explain that dust mite droppings along with spores, pollen and bacteria are some of the most common allergens found in our homes. They range in size from about 10 microns in diameter down to a micron, he explains, noting that standard paper vacuum cleaner bags don’t always filter them out.

What’s so bad about dust mites? Well, you may be happy to know that these tiny little creatures don’t bite or sting. However, their feces and body fragments (it’s already sounding gross, isn’t it?) are often found on our pillows, bed sheets and carpets. And they have been widely known to trigger respiratory problems. Because dust mites are nearly everywhere, it’s important to be very diligent with your vacuuming habits.

“They are a major cause of asthma and allergies; especially in vulnerable individuals, such as children and the elderly,” reports Environment, Health and Safety Online, “According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, approximately 10 percent of Americans exhibit allergic sensitivity to dust mites.” And because humans tend to shed dead skin daily, we continually feed these dust mites on a regular basis without even knowing it!

So what’s the best way to vacuum? According to Croft, “a vacuuming strategy designed to catch the dust before it migrates throughout the building, involving aggressive vacuuming of entry mats and the carpet near entrances (“cross-hatch” those areas), moderate vacuuming of traffic paths (probably nightly), and as/needed detail vacuuming (perhaps once or twice per week). Using a backpack vacuum allows janitors to easily reach corners, edges and under furniture.”

The importance of improving your indoor air quality cannot be understated. It goes without saying that we need to breathe to live. So it makes sense to take measures to ensure that the air that we are breathing is as clean as it can be, doesn’t it? At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., our Air Quality Services provide clients with the means to ensure the best indoor air quality possible. For more information, call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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The Importance Of Improving Air Quality For Asthmatics

World Asthma Day background.According to the Asthma Society of Canada, “every year, about 250 Canadians die from asthma. Most of these deaths, however, could have been prevented with proper education and management.” Defined as “chronic inflammatory disease of the airway”, asthma is most commonly associated with difficulty breathing. Most asthmatics describe the condition as one where their chests feel compressed as if someone were “squeezing” their lungs.

Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. Needless to say, the purity of breathing air is a major concern for an asthmatic. And while the Asthma Society of Canada notes that the cause of asthma is not known and there is no cure, there are many different triggers to the disease that should be avoided. And, as you may have guessed, they all impact that air that we breathe.

Dust mites. Described as “tiny, spider-like creatures that eat the skin particles humans shed”, dust mites are most often found in pillows, sheets, blankets, carpets, stuffed toys, sofas, mattresses and curtains. These regular elements of the home, therefore, should be regularly cleaned and/or laundered to minimize dust mite infestations. This is because “their body parts and droppings contain a substance that can cause inflammation of the airways in those who are allergic.”

Mould. Readers of our blog will not be surprised to learn that mould is an irritant to asthmatics. We’ve made many mentions of the fact that mould growth in the home significantly downgrades the quality of your breathing air. “When moulds reproduce, they release spores into the air that can trigger asthma episodes,” Asthma.ca reminds us, “People with asthma can come into contact with these spores both outside and inside. The air is never free of mould, but you can prevent growth by keeping your house clean and dry all year.”

Pollens. Going outside for some fresh air isn’t always necessarily the best course of action for an asthmatic. Many sufferers complain that they aren’t “outdoorsy” due to the fact that elements of nature trigger the symptoms of their disease. “Pollens are common allergens,” Asthma.ca informs, noting that they can certainly trigger asthma attacks. Pollens produced by trees, grass and weeds are carried by the wind on hot and windy days, says the site.

Air Pollutants. Another reason that going outside isn’t always the best asthma remedy is because of all of the man-made pollutants that exist in our world. Between vehicle exhaust fumes and smog, there are many outdoor triggers to asthma attacks. “The particles in the air along with ozone, cause lung damage and breathing problems in people with asthma,” says the Asthma Society of Canada, “Where possible, avoid going outdoors on days that have poor air-quality indexes.”

Smoke. It probably goes without saying that cigarette smoke is an automatic no-no for asthmatics. In fact, many complain that, among all triggers, it’s the worst for them to be around. “Even secondhand smoke can be a trigger,” says Asthma.ca. This makes it especially important for parents of asthma sufferers to keep their children as far away from any smoke of any kind as much as possible.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Inc., we consider our Air Quality Services highly important for those who suffer from asthma. The purity of your breathing air is of major importance. Taking steps to improve your indoor air quality should be a top-of-your-list task each and every day. For more information on how we can help, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Battling Asthma Triggers By Improving Indoor Air Quality

Woman having asthma using the asthma inhaler for being healthyIn what is easily one of the biggest understatements that can ever be made, having asthma is no fun at all. An inability to breathe freely is clearly a deterrent to optimum health. And yet, there are millions of us who are affected by asthma, which is described as “recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing” by the World Health Organization. “This condition is due to inflammation of the air passages in the lungs and affects the sensitivity of the nerve endings in the airways so they become easily irritated,” they explain.

It’s important for asthmatics to steer clear of the common irritants of the disease. And they tend to vary depending on the person. For many asthmatics, excessive activity can lead to having difficulty breathing. For others, milk and other dairy products have been known as enemies to the respiratory system. But for nearly everyone who suffers from asthma, smoke and other pollutants to the air are chief causes of asthma attacks. Needless to say, good air quality is mandatory for the minimizing of asthma symptoms.

Maintaining good air quality isn’t always that easy to do, however. As Dory Cerny reports on AllergicLiving.com, “studies in recent years have found that the air quality inside the average home is up to five times worse than that outside. And North Americans spend about 90 per cent of their time indoors during the winter.” In addition to cleaning product fumes, pet dander and cigarette smoke, dust mites and mould are listed as the top culprits for asthma triggers.

So how do we put a stop to them?

Battling dust mites. Use dehumidifiers in damp areas, advises Asthma.ca, noting that dust mites can’t live in dry environments. The site explains that “the excretions and body parts of these tiny, spider-like creatures can be a powerful trigger of asthma symptoms. Dust mites congregate in soft-surfaced places where there is an abundant food supply. Dust mites feed off shed human skin and are thus found in bedding, mattresses, pillows, sofas and carpets.”

Other ways to minimize dust mites are to remove carpets, if possible. This is especially important in bedrooms where we do our sleeping. As well, Asthma.ca recommends that you launder your bed linens in very hot water that is about 55 degrees Celsius and to use mite-allergen impermeable encasings for your pillows, mattresses and box springs. By the way, it’s also important to not leave food and water out, so as to avoid inviting cockroaches – another asthma trigger – into your home.

Battling moulds. “Make sure your home is well ventilated,” advises Asthma.ca. Poor ventilation is often highlighted as a common cause for the growth of mould. “Moulds are fungus that can be found just about anywhere it’s damp and where air flow is minimal, like basements and bathrooms,” reports the site, “Their airborne spores can trigger asthma symptoms, but there are many ways to avoid them. The best way is to keep your home dry and clean.”

Other methods of staving off mould is to use anti-mould cleaners such as vinegar or chlorine-bleach solutions, using bathroom and kitchen fans, reducing the number of your household plants and ensuring that you have proper drainage around your house. Remember that moisture is a must for mould growth. The less humid and moist your surroundings are, the better your chances are of keeping mould at bay.

Ensuring the high quality of your indoor breathing air is incredibly important to the health of those who suffer from asthma. The disease can seriously impact one’s overall wellness. Considering how many asthma triggers occur within the home – a place we all spend most of our time – it’s integral that we keep the air in our homes pure. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Air Quality Services to ensure this. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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