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Indoor Air Quality and Environmental Experts


Carbon Monoxide

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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Exposing The Serious Dangers Of Cigarette Smoking

Depositphotos_65029191_xsOn our blog, we very often discuss the importance of indoor air quality. While we may not realize it, we do spend most of our time indoors. Naturally, we sleep indoors and spend the majority of our family time within the confines of our homes. Needless to say, it’s important that the air that we breathe in our homes is as pollutant-free as possible. Readers of our blog, however, will know that that isn’t so easy to pull off.

From dust mites to mould growth, there are ample culprits in the deterioration of our indoor air quality. In many cases, there are simple fixes. Keeping a clean and tidy home, for example, is one way to keep dust mites and mould growth at bay. There is, however, a major villain that continues to attack our air. It’s a villain that is completely self-imposed. And yet, we haven’t been able to put a complete stop to it yet!

Cigarette smoking is arguably the worst thing we can do for the quality of the air we breathe. And with as many “no smoking” signs up in our buildings, there are still individuals who are yet to break the habit. Surely, it’s a tough addiction to stop. But, it needs to be stated that the impact that cigarette smoke has on the air can negatively affect many more people than just the smoker doing the inhaling and exhaling.

This point is made clear by the Global Healing Center. “Whether you’re doing the smoking yourself or just enduring exposure to side-stream smoke or second hand smoke, tobacco smoke contributes to lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other illnesses,” informs their website, “The chemical cocktail of lethal compounds in tobacco smoke cause the oxygen levels in your blood stream to drastically lower, prohibiting normal function of your body.”

Clearly, you don’t even have to be a smoker in order for cigarette smoke to negatively impact your health. And even worse, you don’t even have to inhale secondhand smoke in order for its effects to take place. “Tobacco smoke smells bad and is clingy,” states the Global Healing Centre, “Gone with the wind? Not quite. When you smoke, it infiltrates your air, clothing, hair and skin with contaminated chemicals and it seems to hang around forever.”

But what are those chemicals and just how bad are they for our health? According to the American Lung Association, second hand smoke contains upwards of 200 poisons! Among them are formaldehyde and carbon monoxide “and at least 60 chemicals known to cause cancer.” They report that the United States experiences about 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year. And those are non-smokers!

“In children, especially infants, it is responsible for pneumonia, lower respiratory tract infections and ear infections,” says the American Lung Association, “It causes asthma to develop, causes asthma attacks, and makes attacks worse. Source control is basic: No one should smoke around children.” Of course, we’d like to take it one step further by saying that no one should smoke at all! If you’re a smoker, you may want to make quitting your number one priority.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we recognize the importance of living in a home where the indoor air quality is the best it can be. For the safety of all those who dwell within it, cigarette smoke should be completely eliminated. We offer Air Quality Services to locate problem areas within the home where health hazards may be present. 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 Ways To Stop Carbon Monoxide From Entering Your Home

Depositphotos_54640413_xsThey call it the “silent killer”. Carbon monoxide cannot be smelled, tasted or seen. But it is certainly lethal. Health Canada explains that “CO forms whenever you burn fuel like propane, natural gas, gasoline, oil, coal and wood. It is also contained in second-hand smoke.” So you would think that preventing carbon monoxide poisoning would be easy, right? Simply avoid using any of the above mentioned products.

Not so easy. Especially with the summertime quickly approaching and “barbeque season” about to take off, avoiding such useful BBQ requirements as propane, coal or wood isn’t going to be very likely. Of course, when used correctly and with great caution, these products should be no major cause for concern. Who doesn’t love a good barbeque in the summer? Diligent attention to maintenance, however, can mean the difference between optimum health and death!

Health Canada admits that “while CO can be present in your home or cottage at any time of the year, the risk is greater in cold winter months. That’s because homes in Canada are usually heated by furnaces, water heaters/boilers, wood stoves, and other appliances that run on fuels. If these devices are improperly installed or malfunction, they can release CO into your home.” So what ways can we prevent carbon monoxide from entering our homes during the summer?

Here are four ways:

1. Regularly check your appliances. You may not be using your furnaces and fireplaces all that much during the warmer months of the year. But that doesn’t mean that they should be ignored. Health Canada insists that you “make sure appliances like furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves, and water heaters are well maintained and inspected by a professional at least once a year.” Don’t forget to check all of your propane and natural gas powered appliances as well.

2. Turn the car off! It sounds like a tip that belongs in the “no-brainer” category. But it should be stressed that when you park your car in your garage, there’s no reason to keep the engine running for any length of time. As Everwell.com explains, a “car exhaust has high levels of carbon monoxide, so never leave your car running in the garage – not even with the door open. It only takes a few minutes for the fumes to move from the garage into the house.”

3. Open the windows. It’s generally a good idea to allow the air in your home to circulate with the air outside. And although you can never be too sure about what pollutants exist in the air outside, you can be sure to reduce the levels of the carbon monoxide that may be in your home by allowing some fresh air in. This will be especially important if you are experiencing any of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, nausea and dizziness.

4. Leave it outside! Barbeques and portable fuel-burning camping equipment are meant for outdoor use. They are also meant for outdoor storage. Health Canada warns to never bring such things inside your home, garage, vehicle, camper or tent. As well, “don’t use kerosene or oil space heaters or lamps in enclosed areas unless they’re specifically designed for indoor use,” they report. And as if it wasn’t already obvious, strictly prohibit cigarette smoking indoors.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we take indoor air quality very seriously. With “silent killers” like carbon monoxide posing serious threats to your health, it’s important for thorough inspections to be completed in order to ensure the top quality of the air you breathe in your home. For more information on our Air Quality Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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4 Ways To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxideIf you’re put off by the idea that odourless, colourless gases can enter our homes and potentially kills us, you’re not alone. Naturally, it’s worrisome to think that we can be negatively affecting our health simply by breathing the air that is in our homes. Our recent blogs have covered the characteristics – or rather, the health risks – of two gases that belong in the “silent killer” category: carbon monoxide and radon.

The former, which is actually referred to as “the silent killer” is a gas that is often emitted from fuel burning appliances like furnaces, ranges and water heaters. According to Keith Pandolfi of ThisOldHouse.com, 170 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year. And while that may not seem like a large number, it’s one that can be significantly lowered by taking a few steps to avoid the gas altogether.

Here are four ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

1. Proper ventilation. This simple technique is very often brought up as a chief way to improve indoor air quality. Without a regular trading of indoor air for outdoor air, dangerous pollutants can remain trapped in the home. Worse, they can become trapped in our lungs. To prevent this, Pandolfi reminds us to vent the exhausts of our furnaces, ranges and water heaters. And he makes clear how we can all do this properly.

“That means having the pipes angle up, not down, as these folks have done,” he directs us, “hot air rises, you know.” He goes on to advise us to check that the vents are free of cracks and gaps. That way, you can avoid the possibility of leaks. As you can imagine, a cracked vent will emit carbon monoxide into the home. And while you won’t be able to smell or see carbon monoxide, Lowes.com reveals a way that we can detect it.

2. Look for orange flames. For those of us who own gas stoves, an orange flame coming from the burner can be a sign that carbon monoxide is present. Gas stoves, as you may know, generally emit blue flames. The site goes on to warn that you should never use an oven or cooking range to heat your home. Of course, this would just be silly – to put it mildly. But you’d be surprised at how many people have tried it.

3. Install a carbon monoxide detector. Lowes.com recommends that you install detectors near the bedrooms in your home. For those who own two-story homes, you should have a detector on each floor. Furthermore, be sure to change the batteries in the CO detector at least twice a year. And after five years, it’s a pretty good idea to replace the detectors for brand new ones. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

4. Hire professionals to do an inspection. Speaking of being safe rather than sorry, there is no better way to eliminate the health risks associated with carbon monoxide than to have your property thoroughly inspected by experts. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we take indoor air quality very seriously. And if you’ve been paying attention to our blogs on air quality, you’ll know exactly why you should as well.

We make it our mission to investigate the origin of your concern so that we can assist you with whatever is necessary to eliminate it. Our Air Quality Services seek to make your living space one that is free of air pollutants that can significantly damage your health. Carbon monoxide and radon are not easy to detect. But they will not escape us! 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 Aim Against “The Silent Killer”

Carbon Monoxide concept.The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” certainly doesn’t apply when it comes to our breathing air. That’s because chances are you’re unable to see or smell the pollutants that could be causing damage to your respiratory system. This is especially true for carbon monoxide, which is known as “the silent killer”. Because it is odourless and colourless, it is near impossible to detect. Therefore, it has sadly caused many deaths without warning.

“Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in North America,” explains the Canada Safety Council, “Exposure to high concentrations can cause death in just a few minutes.” They go on to note that confusion – which is a symptom of carbon monoxide exposure – can actually interfere with an individual’s ability to realize that his or her life may be in danger. This is why immediate diagnosis is so important.

So what are the other major symptoms associated with carbon monoxide? Canada Safety Council reports that in low concentrations, people can experience a shortage of breath after just moderate activity as well as slight headaches, nausea and dizziness. In higher concentrations, people can suffer from severe headaches, mental confusion, dizziness, impaired vision and hearing and even fainting spells after exertion. Extreme concentrations have been known to cause unconsciousness, comas and death.

Who is most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning? If you work in poorly ventilated areas where machines are regularly in use, you could be putting yourself at risk. “Any indoor workplace where engines are running presents a potential hazard. Workers must realize that fuel-powered machines can expose them to this deadly gas,” says Canada Safety Council, “Workers in confined spaces, such as mines, can be exposed to CO.”

How exactly does carbon monoxide affect us? You would think that if a gas is odourless and colourless, that it couldn’t possibly do a whole lot to harm us. Again, the “out of sight” theory doesn’t apply here. “CO blocks the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream from the lungs, and poisons the red blood cells so they cannot carry oxygen. If body tissues do not receive a constant supply of oxygen, they stop functioning,” explains Canada Safety Council.

They go on to note that oxygen deprivation can severely damage the brain. In addition, carbon monoxide is also known to present serious complications in the reproductive process. The council points out that pregnant women stand a greater chance of miscarriage, stillbirth and low birth weight if exposed to carbon monoxide. Men aren’t immune either. “In men, genetic damage to reproductive cells, loss of potency, and abnormal sperm have been reported,” the organization reveals.

What can be done to protect ourselves from carbon monoxide? Thankfully, all hope is not lost. While carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless, it cannot sneak its way passed CO detectors. They should be present in all work areas where hazards may be present, says Canada Safety Council. Also, fuel-operated machinery should not be used indoors, if at all possible. As well, adequate respiratory equipment should be used when working in confined spaces.

What should be done if we feel sick? “Seek medical attention immediately if anyone shows symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as a severe headache, dizziness and nausea,” insists the council, “Take the exposed person into the fresh air as quickly as possible. Give artificial respiration if breathing has stopped, and administer oxygen if available.” Needless to say, your home and work space should be tested for the presence of carbon monoxide.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we provide Air Quality Services that seek to eliminate any air quality problems that could lead to severe issues with your health. We maximize our inspection processes to target any and all potential areas of concern – and carbon monoxide is a major concern. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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