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What Is ETS And How Does It Impact Indoor Air Quality?

It’s no secret that cigarette smoking is one of the absolute most harmful activities that a person can engage in. In fact, it’s surprising that cigarette smoking still exists given how dangerous it is. In Canada, cigarette packages are well known for their graphic depictions of the diseases that can be caused by smoking the product. And, as many know, cigarettes are so destructive, they even impact the health of people who don’t smoke!

Secondhand smoke is a major health concern. While it’s common knowledge that cigarettes can cause cancer and other deadly respiratory diseases like emphysema in their users, the smoke emitted from the mouths of smokers can cause the same diseases in others. It can be argued – pretty easily, actually – that secondhand smoke is the arch enemy of our air. And it’s fair to say that there is nothing worse for our indoor air quality.

What is ETS? The Lung Association explains that Environmental Tobacco Smoke (or ETS, for short) is the term used to define the smoke that is exhaled by smokers and the smoke that is emitted from the burning ends of cigarettes, cigars and pipes. They note that ETS is one of the most widespread and harmful indoor air pollutants there is, pointing out a long list of harmful toxins that are contained within it.

According to The Lung Association, “ETS contains more than 4700 chemical compounds including: arsenic (rat and ant poison), benzene (rubber cement), lead (car battery material), phenol (used in production disinfectants and plastic), and hydrogen cyanide (poison used in gas chambers). It often produces levels of carbon monoxide and other toxins well above accepted standards for human exposure.”

ETS is so harmful, it even causes something that has been referred to as “thirdhand smoke”. The chemicals from secondhand smoke can get trapped in the fabric of our clothing or the drapes, linens and furniture in our homes. Have you ever entered a room and smelled cigarette smoke even after the smoke had already disappeared? That remaining stench is the thirdhand smoke that can still impact your health.

How can ETS be avoided? Unfortunately, no one is immune to ETS. It’s important for non-smokers to learn that they shouldn’t even be around those who smoke because they can still be exposed to the deadly toxins contained in cigarettes. However, sufferers of asthma are especially cautioned to keep away from cigarette smoke in any form. ETS is known to worsen asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

Pregnant women are also advised to avoid ETS at all costs. When exposed to it, they run the risk of having miscarriages, giving birth prematurely or enduring stillbirths. Babies born to mothers who were exposed to ETS generally have lower birth weights and shorter lengths, says The Lung Association.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we recommend that you insist upon a smoke-free home. Even those who smoke outside of your home should not be permitted inside after smoking as they will be bringing harmful chemicals indoors. It’s important, of course, to maintain a living environment that is free of harmful chemicals. So, we offer Air Quality Services to help you enjoy the best indoor air quality possible!

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

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Are Air Fresheners Really That Bad For Our Health?

Do you use air fresheners in your home or your car? If so, you’re a lot like most people. It’s natural to want your environment to smell fresh and pleasant, especially considering that there are numerous products on the market that offer up a wide variety of sweet scents. However, if you’re one of the many individuals who use aerosol sprays and other air freshening mechanisms, you are creating an unhealthy living space.

As April McCarthy informs us on PreventDisease.com, artificial fragrance sales exceed $8 billion a year although they emit “toxic fumes”. Among the health ramifications of spraying your air with such products are headaches, earaches, depression, allergies, irregular heartbeat and even diarrhea, she notes. “Fragrance can be made up of more than 100 chemicals, most of which are synthetic, and most of these chemicals are harming our health,” writes McCarthy.

What chemicals in air fresheners are causing the most damage? McCarthy reveals that phthalates are regularly used in common household air fresheners in order to prolong the length of time that the scented products maintain their fragrances. Phthalates, in fact, are also used as plastic softeners, anti-foaming agents in aerosols, in vinyl found in children’s toys, automobiles, paints, pesticides and in cosmetics and fragrances.

According to a 2007 Natural Resources Defense Council report, 12 of 14 brands of common household air fresheners contained phthalates, reports McCarthy. “Regular exposure to phthalates can increase your risk of experiencing endocrine, reproductive, and developmental problems,” she reveals, “Amazingly, some of the brands that tested positive for phthalates did not include phthalates on their lists of ingredients; some of these brands were even labeled as being ‘all-natural’ and ‘unscented.’”

The NRDC also points out that exposure to phthalates can interfere with the production of the male hormone testosterone which can be linked to reproductive abnormalities. However, phthalates are far from the only chemical found in air fresheners that can be hazardous to our health.

What other dangerous chemicals are found in air fresheners? On Grandparents.com, Sara Schwartz reminds us that air fresheners also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They include such toxic chemicals as acetone, ethanol, d-limonene, pinene, and acetate. “Depending on your exposure and sensitivity, toxic VOCs can produce a range of health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and headaches, and even damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system,” she explains.

What chemical-free ways can we freshen the air in our homes? According to Dr. Anne Steinemann, who is a professor of civil engineering at the University of Melbourne, the best smell is no smell at all. In Schwartz’s article, she advises opening up the windows even for a short period each day. And yes, this includes the wintertime. “Why use an air freshener at all? It’s not designed to clean and disinfect the air; it’s a chemical mixture that masks odor,” she is quoted as saying.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we agree that having fresh air in the home is of major importance. However, maintaining a living environment that is free of harmful chemicals is most ideal. We offer Air Quality Services to help target any problems areas of your home to ensure that you are enjoying the best indoor air quality possible. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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3 Easy Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality During The Winter

Cozy winter composition in a room, with snowy landscape seen through the window.During the warm and sunny summertime, many Canadians keep their windows open in order to circulate the air from outside with the air from inside. Then again, maybe less Canadians do that than we think. Far too many of us are prone to turning on the air conditioning. As a result, the air inside our homes gets stale and stagnant during the summer. Who complains about the heat in Canada anyway? Don’t people remember what winter is like?

Well, it seems like most Canadians have excellent memories when the winter comes. Recalling just how cold it can get, they go ahead and seal their homes up again. This time, they keep the heat going inside. We can never be satisfied, can we? Here’s the problem: with our homes sealed up during the winter, we continue to promote stale and stagnant air inside. So, it’s important that we take measures to improve the indoor air quality in our homes throughout the winter.

How do we do that? Here are three simple ideas:

1. Fill your home with plants. It’s a win-win situation to have plants in your home. Not only do they beautify your living spaces, but they help to clean the air. As we’ve pointed out in past blogs, certain plants such as spider plants, dracaenas, golden pothos, areca palms, bamboo palms, English ivy, rubber plants, Chinese evergreen, peace lilies and chrysanthemums are highly recommended.

“Houseplants can clean and purify the air in a home, helping to remove formaldehyde, benzene and other toxins that can make indoor air unhealthy to breathe,” reminds TheReflector.com, “Benzene is an irritant that can cause dizziness, headache, nausea, and blurred vision, among other side effects. Formaldehyde, which is often found in homes thanks to its widespread use in a range of products, can cause watery eyes, nausea and wheezing.”

2. Use cleaning products with natural ingredients. There are a number of cleaning products on the market that don’t contain harmful chemicals. Be sure to look for them when you go grocery shopping. They not only make your home pleasant smelling and cleaner overall, but they help you to avoid the toxic chemicals that can negatively impact your home’s indoor air quality. Don’t be fooled by sweet fragrances!

“It’s ideal to avoid heavy chemical usage inside a home throughout the year, but it’s especially important to do so during winter,” says MyValleyNews.com, “Solvent-based cleaners or cleaning products with strong fragrances can negatively affect indoor air quality and potentially trigger allergic reactions. In lieu of chemically-enhanced cleaning products, use natural products that get the job done without sacrificing indoor air quality.”

3. Absolutely insist on a no smoking policy. By today’s standards, smoking cigarettes indoors is considered bizarre. With laws protecting Canadians from secondhand smoke in nearly all indoor environments, it’s not uncommon to see people huddled outside on their smoke breaks from work. Insist upon this policy for your home. It’s hard to argue that cigarette smoke is among the worst possible ways to ruin the air you breathe.

“Many homeowners know that smoking indoors drastically reduces indoor air quality, putting even nonsmokers at heightened risk of developing various respiratory ailments,” notes TheReflector.com, “Homeowners concerned about the indoor air quality in their homes should ban smoking inside, no matter how low temperatures dip outside.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Air Quality Services to help target any problems areas of your home to ensure that you are enjoying the best indoor air quality possible. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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3 Holiday Gift Ideas That Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

Bouquet of red flowers of chrysanthemums isolated on white background. Flat, top viewWe’re just a few days over a month away from Christmas Day. So, this is certainly the time of year when Canadians are out in the malls shopping for holiday gifts. This will be especially true in a couple of days when the annual Black Friday festivities kick off. And by “festivities”, we mean craziness. Holiday shoppers who have participated in Black Friday shopping events know just how much havoc can occur when people are actively seeking discounts on highly-sought after items.

There are some items, however, that may not necessarily be among the most popular holiday gift ideas, but they are among the most important. Why not consider buying a loved one a gift that will speak to their health needs? There are numerous items on the market that can improve the indoor air quality of one’s home. And, as any reader of our blog knows, improving indoor air quality is incredibly important for our health.

Here are three holiday gift ideas that can improve indoor air quality:

1. HEPA air purifier. In order to remove pollutants from our air, we often have to do more than simply open the windows. And yes, it is recommended that you open the windows during the winter time – even if it’s for a few minutes at a time. This will help circulate the stale and stagnant air from inside with the fresh air from outside. However, since the winter offers weather conditions that don’t allow us to keep the windows open for very long, a HEPA air purifier is an excellent addition to the home.

“Make sure to get an air purifier that does not produce ozone, and one that does eliminate VOCs that off-gas from paint, furniture, and cleaning chemicals,” recommends Cambria Bold on ApartmentTherapy.com. She points out that VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are a danger to our health. So while doing your holiday shopping, be sure to avoid such gifts as air fresheners and other scented cleaning products that contain VOCs.

2. Green plants and flowers. Plants and flowers are gifts that can satisfy a wide range of recipients because they add some nice decor to homes. However, they also help to purify the air. As reported by Ellen Ruoff Riley and Stuart Robbins on Healthline.com, “in 1998, NASA discovered that houseplants can absorb harmful toxins from the air, especially in enclosed spaces with little air flow…While plants have less horse power than air purifiers, they’re more natural, cost effective, and therapeutic.”

They recommend such plants as spider plants, dracaenas, golden pothos, areca palms, bamboo palms, English ivy, rubber plants, Chinese evergreen, peace lilies and chrysanthemums. “Florist’s chrysanthemums or ‘mums’ are ranked the highest for air purification,” write Riley and Robbins, “They’re shown to eliminate common toxins as well as ammonia.”

3. Pet grooming products. You’re bound to have an animal lover on your list of gift recipients this holiday season. If so, a gift certificate for grooming, non-chemical based cleaners, vacuums and mops are certainly some great ideas for helping them to keep their homes clean and air pollutant-free. On Mom.me, Sara Tan highly recommends the Swiffer Sweeper as a gift for pet owners.

“Any pet owner knows that pet hair and dander can accumulate on floors and other hard surfaces of your home,” she writes, “Stay on top of this cleaning challenge with Swiffer Sweeper. Swiffer’s trap and lock technology picks up pet hair and dander allergens on hardwood, tile and linoleum floor types.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., there is one more gift that we’d recommend you give yourself. Our Air Quality Services can help target any problems areas of your home to ensure that you are enjoying the best indoor air quality possible. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

4 Comments

  1. November 29, 2016 at 6:31 am

    Very concise yet detailed and it helped both of our confidence. Great work!

  2. Betty larose-Reply
    December 12, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    What is your recommendation on furnace cleaning? We have an electronic furnace filter, but are still finding the house dusty. We have both found we’ve had sinus issues since moving into this house. What should we check?
    Many thanks
    Betty

    • Dennis French-Reply
      December 12, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Hello Betty
      I will respond directly to you on this email rather than the public forum.

  3. December 18, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Great post! I agree that a combination of fresh air, air purifier, and plants can really make a big difference. Thanks for sharing!

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Are Fireplaces Hazardous To Our Health?

Feets of a family wearing woolen socks warming near the fireplaceNow that November is here, we’re willing to bet that the majority of Canadians already have images of the holiday season on their minds. It would be hard to avoid them as the shopping malls are already decorated with festive colours to commemorate this exciting time of the year. Of course, cold weather is also commonplace during the year’s final months and, as a result, most of us seek ways to warm up all winter long.

How do many Canadians warm up their homes during the winter? You guessed it – the good old fireplace! The crackling of burning wood in a fireplace is as much part of the holiday season as Christmas trees. The only difference is that we tend to keep fires burning in our fireplaces long after the holidays are over. That, however, can present major problems for our health. Fireplaces, you see, are actually pretty bad for our indoor air quality.

How do fireplaces impact our indoor air quality? Well, let’s consider the obvious. With the burning of wood comes smoke. And with smoke comes contaminants in our air. As you can imagine, this can make it a lot harder to breathe. As explained by Cleveland Clinic, numerous scientific studies have found that breathing in smoke from fireplaces has “serious adverse health effects”.

“That’s because smoke from these fires contains small particles that can get into your eyes and respiratory system,” their website explains, “The result can be burning eyes, a runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest health problems, because they can get deep into the lungs, and some may even get into the bloodstream.”

Cleveland Clinic also quotes Dr. Sheila Armogida as saying that wood smoke contains a number of toxic substances including benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein and methane. She highly recommends that fireplace users significantly limit their exposure to the smoke that emanates from their fireplaces. This is especially important for people who have a history of lung disease and asthma.

However, one doesn’t need to have a history of respiratory system issues in order to be negatively affected by wood smoke in the home. Cheryl Katz of Environmental Health News reports that a University of Copenhagen study found that air pollution from wood stoves is also quite hazardous to the health of all who are exposed to it. Researcher, Steffen Loft found that wood burning stoves release a lot of particulate matter into the air.

“The tiny airborne specks of pollution known as particulate matter, or PM, produced by wood-burning stoves appear to be especially harmful to human health,” writes Katz of the study’s findings, “Small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, they carry high levels of chemicals linked to cardiopulmonary diseases and cancer, and they can damage DNA and activate genes in hazardous ways comparable to cigarette smoke and car exhaust.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we’re very well aware that many Canadians enjoy their fireplaces during the winter – and for good reason. Who doesn’t like being warm and toasty and when it’s frigid outside? But since there are health implications to fireplace use, we would highly recommend our Air Quality Services to ensure that your home is a safe living environment for your family all winter long.

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

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5 Ways To Treat Yourself To Improved Indoor Air Quality

depositphotos_2428997_s-2015Halloween is almost here! So the idea getting treats, by way of candy, is a hot topic this week. Believe it or not, participating in the annual trick-or-treating festivities can actually good for your indoor air quality. Sort of. You see, during the chillier months of the year, we Canadians tend to keep our doors and windows firmly closed in order to keep the cold out. This promotes the stagnation of our air and the keeping in of indoor air pollutants.

When we open our doors to trick-or-treaters, we allow for some of that stagnant air to circulate with the fresher air from outside. It is recommended that we open the doors and windows for even just a five minute period every day – even when it’s cold outside. This is just one of the things you can do to treat yourself to improved indoor air quality.

Here are five more:

1. Keep your home as neat and tidy as possible. It’s important to take on the habits of a neat freak as often as possible. This will be especially true over the course of the winter when you will be a lot less likely to keep the doors and windows open for long periods of time. Get used to vacuuming, mopping and dusting at least once a week. As well, place door mats at the entrance ways to your home to prevent dirt from entering it. And be sure to ask people to take their shoes off when they come inside – it’s a great Canadian tradition!

2. Monitor your humidity levels. It’s normal for Canadians to turn up the heat in their homes during the winter. But it’s important to remember that with excess heat comes excess humidity. Too much humidity is bad for your indoor air quality because it can produce mould and mildew. On Withings.com, Jonathan Choquel recommends that you keep your home’s humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent.

“This will limit the growth of mould and the presence of dust mites that pollute the air,” he explains, “Some moulds produce allergens and mycotoxins – they can have adverse health effects, ranging from allergic reactions (like a stuffy or runny nose, or eye and skin irritations) to asthma attacks, depending on the exact type and amount of mould, and the sensitivity of those exposed. This is true even in non-allergic people.”

3. Filter your air. While it remains important to ventilate your home, extra measures should be taken to remove the air pollutants that can contaminate the air within it. “Portable air cleaners, particularly HEPA filters and electrostatic precipitators, can reduce some air contaminants,” informs the Healthy Canadians website, “HEPA filters collect particle pollutants with a fine filter. But electrostatic precipitators collect pollutants with electrostatic energy, which causes pollution to stick to the filter.”

4. Avoid synthetic fragrances. Most of us associate sweet and fresh smells with cleanliness. However, those air fresheners and laundry soaps that are infused with scents are actually pretty bad for our living environments. Containing harmful volatile organic compounds, these products can do a lot to irritate our eyes, skin and respiratory systems. “Choose fragrance-free products, or products with scents of natural origin for your laundry and cleaning needs,” advises Choquel.

5. Get a professional inspection of your home’s air quality. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Air Quality Services that target areas of concern in your home. Our team of trained professionals has a strong understanding of the indoor environment and is therefore able to maximize their inspection processes to ensure all of our clients’ questions about their homes’ indoor air quality are answered.

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 Does Cold Weather Worsen Indoor Air Quality?

Beautiful young woman sitting by the window having hot drinkAlthough we’re still in the middle of October, the cold weather has definitely returned. At least, here, in Calgary, the days have certainly gotten a lot chillier. As a result, most of us are turning up the heat in our homes, preparing for another long winter when staying indoors is more commonplace. It is our tendencies to stay inside more often that makes winter a season that wreaks havoc on our indoor air quality.

How does staying inside more often worsen indoor air quality? Considering that most of us prefer to keep warm and toasty during the winter, there is a desire to keep all of our doors and windows shut, even going so far as sealing any cracks in our insulation. And while this helps to eliminate cold drafts from entering our homes, it also seals out any fresh air. As a result, the pollutants in our homes become more concentrated.

What pollutants exist in our homes? Well, there’s certainly a bunch! Household cleaning products produce some of the most common indoor pollutants. Those disinfectants, personal care products and air fresheners that give off “fresh” scents are especially known for containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are hazardous air pollutants. VOCs are also commonly found in paints, varnishes and glues.

If you use any household appliances that use oil, kerosene, gas, coal or wood, you’ve got combustion sources that can produce dangerous levels of pollution. They are especially hazardous if not regularly cleaned and maintained. And those of us with pets are also susceptible to increased levels of indoor air pollution thanks to animal dander and other particles that often cause allergic reactions and asthma triggers.

What are the symptoms associated with poor indoor air quality? If you notice that you’re experiencing headaches, dizziness, fatigue or itchiness of the eyes, nose and/or throat, it could be due to the air pollutants in your home. Asthma sufferers will be especially aware of poor indoor air quality as respiratory issues often result. Naturally, it’s wise to take measures to improve indoor air quality during the coldest months of the year.

How do you improve indoor air quality when it’s cold outside? Sensibly, you should simply rid the home of pollution sources. Reduce gas emissions from the afore mentioned household appliances as much as possible by limiting their use and/or making sure that are very regularly cleaned and maintained. You’ll also want to promote ventilation throughout the home. And yes, this does mean opening the windows every now and again.

You’ll also want to clean very regularly. Stepping up your dedication to vacuuming, dusting and mopping throughout the winter will go a long way in improving the air quality in your home. This is especially true if you have pets, but will also aid in the prevention of mould and mildew growth. Mould can become a problem when the air in the home is too humid. A sign may be the condensation that appears on your windows.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we focus pretty strongly on keeping the indoor air quality of your home at the highest levels possible. If you have any concerns about the quality of the air you’re breathing in your home this winter, please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask about our Air Quality Services. For more information, give us a call at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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5 Steps To Keeping Your Home Clean During Back-To-School Season

happy family do the cleaningIf you’re looking to maintain the highest levels of indoor air quality in your home, it’s important to take regular steps to keeping it clean. That should probably go without saying. However, there are certain times of the year when it’s a bit more difficult to keep your home clean. And the impending back-to-school season is one of them. With the kids headed back to the classroom in a couple of weeks, they will likely be engaging in activities that make for messier homes.

With less time to dedicate to keeping their rooms clean, clothes, books and other possessions are bound to pile up. Your children are also likely to invite friends over to study – or not to study! – which tracks more dirt into the home from their shoes. And you’ll also be busy preparing lunches for each school day, giving your kitchen more opportunities to be in disarray. Fear not. There are some ways to keep your home clean throughout the school year.

Here are five steps to keeping your home clean during the back-to-school season:

1. Start cleaning now! Don’t wait for the school year to begin to start your revved up house cleaning routines. In fact, the cleaner your home is before school starts, the easier it will be to keep it clean throughout the school year. “Don’t let the school year sneak up on you,” warns RightAtHome.com, “When you’re scheduling your last summer vacation, use one of those days off work to get your house in order for what’s ahead.”

2. Insist upon the shoes-off policy for guests. As we mentioned earlier, there may be a few new faces showing up at your front door in the coming weeks. Make sure that the friends of your children know that wearing shoes in the home is a no-no. “It’s important to make sure that playdate mates know this rule right out of the gate,” insists Vera Sweeney on SheKnows.com, “When friends come over, they must take off their shoes. Have a mat by the front door and make sure your children offer up some encouragement.”

3. Establish a new storage system. Your school-bound children will have many new items that will become parts of their regular school days in the coming weeks. So where will those items be stored once they’re back in the house? “Clean your coat closet or streamline your mudroom to create space for the kids (not you) to store their backpacks, jackets, sports and music equipment, and other back-to-school gear,” suggests RightAtHome.com.

4. Make weekly room cleanings a must. With your children using their rooms more often – for studying and homework, we would hope – it’s likely that they will become messier than normal. As a result, instilling a new rule about regular room cleaning is necessary. “Every single weekend, make sure your children clean out their corners, closets and underneath their beds, “advises Sweeney.

5. Engage in daily wipe downs. During the school year, your kids will be placing just about everything they carry to and from school on your furniture – most notably, your kitchen table. Between their books, lunch boxes and backpacks, your table is going to encounter more germs than at any other time of the year. It’s recommended that you use disinfectant wipes to wipe down both your children’s school materials and your furniture on a regular basis.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we take your indoor air quality seriously. We offer Air Quality Services that use inspection processes that target all areas of concern in your home. As a result, we’re able to foster much healthier living conditions for you and your family. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Removing Your Shoes The Canadian Way Is Still Good For Your Health

Old blue tennis shoes on welcome mat outside worn door.One year ago – almost to the day – we posted a blog suggesting that being Canadian was good for your indoor air quality. Specifically referring to the fact that it’s a Canadian custom to remove your shoes when entering into a home, our blog highlighted the importance of keeping your indoor environment dirt-free. It’s still a surprise to many that our American counterparts don’t seem to share the same views. Many still choose to wear their outdoor shoes indoors.

Most Canadians simply don’t understand this. When walking outdoors, we simply cannot avoid stepping in dirt, water, grass, gum, debris and when we’re not careful, animal feces! Why would we want to track any of that stuff into the house? A simple look at the bottoms of our shoes after one outdoor excursion should tell you that they should not be worn in the house. Exchanging them for house slippers, socks or even bare feet is a safer bet.

Is it hazardous to your health to wear shoes indoors? Well, let’s look at it from this perspective. Is it healthy to have an unclean home? Obviously, it is not. The cleaner you keep your home, the better your health will be. On TreeHugger.com, Melissa Breyer confirms this when she reveals the findings of a University of Arizona study that collected the germs and microbes from footwear.

“The researchers found 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe, including E. coli, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds,” she reports, “Granted the study was co-sponsored by The Rockport Company, but even so, it definitely brings the point home.”

What else do outdoor shoes track into the home? Breyer reveals that, in addition to bacteria, a number of toxins enter our homes on the bottoms of our shoes. She points to a United States Environmental Protection Agency study that discovered the presence of unhealthy herbicides, such as 2,4-D (which is used to kill weeds), can be imported into the home by our shoes for up to a week after application.

“The ‘track-in’ exposures of these chemicals may exceed those from residues on non-organic fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Breyer, “The study didn’t expound on the health threat of the specific herbicide, however the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert G. Lewis, said the potential exists. Exposure to 2,4-D can cause immediate and relatively minor problems like skin rashes and gastrointestinal upsets; long-term health effects of the herbicide are unknown, the EPA said.”

How can we avoid tracking dirt into our homes? Well, we suppose the answer here is obvious. Removing your shoes when you enter your home is a great way to minimize the amount of dirt and grime you bring into it. We’re not exactly sure why more of our American neighbours aren’t practicing this simple, yet effective routine. But we’re certainly supportive of the Canadian custom to do so.

Breyer suggests going with bare feet when you’re inside. “The opportunity to be barefoot is just good for your feet,” she writes, “Studies have shown that children who habitually go without shoes have fewer cases of flat feet, as well as having stronger feet with better flexibility and fewer podiatric deformities. Allowing your foot muscles to do their thing helps them stay strong and flexible.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we recognize that it’s not altogether possible to keep your home completely dirt and grime free. Years of allowing the elements from outside to infiltrate into the home can produce less-than-stellar indoor air quality. Our Air Quality Services use inspection processes to target all areas of concern in your home to promote much healthier living.

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

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Keeping Your Indoor Air Quality Healthy This Summer

A young woman is standing in the doorway of her kitchen and is looking at the garden at sunriseAre you enjoying the summer yet? While not every day is a sunny one, the time of year when the weather is at its warmest is certainly here. Warm and sunny days are usually associated with summertime but, of course, we’re bound to experience our damp and rainy ones as well. Our neighbours, here in Calgary, Alberta know exactly what we mean. And because the summer isn’t without its rainy days, it’s important to know how our health can be affected by them.

Are rainy summer days bad for our health? Not necessarily. However, as AdvantaClean.com points out, “outdoor humidity and summer storms can carry damp air indoors. Damp air can bring on asthma symptoms and encourages dust, mould and mildew growth, so keep your doors and windows closed on those days.” There are also other weather conditions associated with summer than can present some health issues.

A combination of heat, humidity and wind can make for some air quality problems. When they all combine with pollution emissions, high levels of ozone can form near the ground. And this can be the cause of some harmful health hazards. Such a situation is referred to as an Ozone Action Day. Weather Underground explains further.

“Local air quality experts (usually meteorologists) use air quality computer models, weather data, measurements of pollution levels, and local experience to come with a daily air pollution forecast,” explains the website, “When this forecast indicates that high temperatures, light winds, no rain, and/or a wind direction blowing in polluted air from another area will combine to cause ozone levels in excess of the federal standards, an Ozone Action Day is declared.”

What can be done to limit ground ozone during Ozone Action Days? Controlling auto emissions is especially important on such days. Drivers should seek to significantly limit idling their cars and avoid any unnecessary driving. If possible, take public transportation instead of your own car to your destination or consider walking or riding a bike if the distance isn’t too great. You’ll also want to avoid the use of lawn mowers and outdoor grills until after 6:00pm.

How can indoor air quality be improved on Ozone Action Days? While at home, limit your use of aerosol cans. You’ll also want to conserve energy by turning off or unplugging any electrical devices that are not in use. It’s also wise to keep all of your windows and doors shut. Wait until those windy days to open them up so that the stagnant indoor air can properly circulate with the fresh air from outside.

What else can be done to keep indoor air quality healthy during the summer? “Good ventilation is the easiest way to improve indoor air quality,” states AdvantaClean.com, “A thorough air duct cleaning right before you kick your air conditioning into high gear isn’t a bad idea. Weatherizing your home against air leakage is a good idea as well, both to prevent unwanted moisture from coming in and to keep utility bills low.”

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we’re experts in the field of indoor air quality. If you have any concerns about the quality of the air you’re breathing in your home this summer, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Be sure to ask us about our Air Quality Services. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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