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Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In Your Home

Depositphotos_67804061_s-2015In our last couple of blogs, we revisited the topic of radon and its ability to seep into our homes through cracks and other inconspicuous openings. While not particularly dangerous in the open air, radon can be the cause of some very serious health problems if concentrated in confined spaces. This is why it’s so vitally important to prevent it from entering your home and detect its presence if it has made its way indoors.

Detection, however, isn’t all that easy. After all, radon is both colourless and odourless. And it’s not the only gas to have these qualities. Carbon monoxide (CO) has long been known as “the silent killer”. In fact, it’s the leading cause of fatal poisonings in North America. Needless to say, carbon monoxide poisoning should be avoided at all costs.

But if carbon monoxide can’t be smelled, seen or tasted, how will you know if it’s around you? According to James Carey and Morris Carey, “having a working CO detector in your home is critical.” In their book, Home Maintenance For Dummies, they insist that “if you don’t already have a CO detector, you should buy one.” Courtesy of Dummies.com, an excerpt from the book explains just how a CO detector should be used.

“The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that every home with fuel-burning appliances of any kind be equipped with a least one CO detector,” inform Carey and Carey, “Place your CO detectors anywhere from 14 inches above the floor to eye level, and never where there is a draft (such as near a window, doorway, or stairwell).”

What creates carbon monoxide gas? “Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that is a by-product of appliances, heaters, and automobiles that burn gasoline, natural gas, wood, oil, kerosene, or propane,” informs HealthyChildren.org. As a result, it’s important to inspect such appliances regularly. “Don’t mess around with CO,” insist the Careys, “Once a year, have your heating system, vents, chimney, and flue inspected (and cleaned if necessary) by a qualified technician. And make sure that your fuel-burning appliances always are vented.”

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning? As listed by HealthyChildren.org, they include headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion and fainting. Such symptoms, however, indicate that there may have been a low concentration of exposure to carbon monoxide. The effects of CO exposure in higher concentrations can result in personality changes, memory loss, severe lung injury, brain damage and death.

How can carbon monoxide poisoning be prevented? Firstly, you should have all of your fuel-burning appliances checked by a professional, at least once a year. They include gas water heaters, gas stoves and gas clothes dryers. It’s also important to not use gas cooking stove tops and ovens for supplemental heat during the winter. Fireplaces and woodstoves should also go through annual inspections. Fuel-burning space heaters need regular check-ups too.

The Air Quality Services provided by DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. seek to detect and therefore, eliminate any air quality problems that can lead to health problems for you and your family. We maximize our inspection processes so that no potential area of concern is missed. If the possibility of CO poisoning is present in your home, we’ll find it! 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 Radon Negatively Impact Our Health?

Sick woman cough in ved under blanketIn our last blog, we revisited the topic of radon and explained the importance of preventing it from entering your home. The colourless and odourless gas which is produced naturally by the breakdown of uranium in the ground can find its way into your home in a number of ways. As Health Canada reminds us, they include cracks in foundation walls and floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements and floor drains.

But what makes radon a health risk? Believe it or not, radon is the second highest leading cause of lung cancer. As you may have guessed, cigarette smoking is the number one cause. Smokers are more susceptible to the negative health effects associated with radon, but non-smokers are also at risk. This is especially true if radon becomes trapped within the confined spaces of their homes.

“It is estimated that a non-smoker exposed to high levels of radon over a lifetime has a one in 20 chance of developing lung cancer,” reports Health Canada, “That estimate increases to one in three for a smoker exposed to high levels of radon over a lifetime.” It should go without saying that to promote optimum health, cigarette smoking should be completely eliminated. However, measures to limit or prevent the entrance of radon into the home should also be taken.

What measures should be taken to limit radon exposure? Firstly, it’s important to minimize the number of entry points into your home. As we pointed out earlier, there are numerous ways that radon can find its way into your home. However, it’s also important to have good ventilation throughout your home. How well your home is ventilated is a factor in how much radon exposure you and your family members will endure.

How can Canadian homes be safely ventilated in the winter? Obviously, the frigid outside air doesn’t allow for Canadians to keep their windows open for very long. Nevertheless, cracking the windows now and again isn’t a bad idea. According to HealthStatus.com, “you won’t die from the cold if you crack windows open a bit. You might want to install an in-window air exchange system that pulls in filtered outside air without letting heated air escape.”

You may also want to invest in an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator). As explained by Mike Reynolds on Ecohome.net, “the point of these systems is to remove moisture and provide fresh air to your home that is pre-heated by the outgoing air. The core of an HRV has small separated channels that air passes through, allowing incoming air to be preheated by exhaust air. There are no heating coils, you are simply operating fans, so they are relatively cheap to run.”

Health Canada reminds us that nearly every Canadian home has some radon in it. The levels do vary from home to home even if they are located beside each other. It’s important, therefore, to have the levels of radon in your home tested by a certified professional. “The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test your home,” they insist, “It is simple and inexpensive.” We couldn’t agree more.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we proudly offer Air Quality Services that are designed to accurately locate all sources of air pollution in your home. Seeking out radon, among many other contaminants, our services assist in significantly improving indoor air quality. If you have any concerns about the possibility of radon having entered your home, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Preventing Radon From Entering Our Homes

Radon material on the periodic table. Part of a series.At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we talk a lot about improving indoor air quality. Naturally, there are many things that we can all do to make our homes much safer places to live. Vacuuming, dusting, opening the windows, removing carpets and avoiding VOCs are just a few of the everyday techniques that we can all adopt to make the air in our homes safer for us to breathe. And yet, completely preventing our air from being contaminated isn’t always possible.

Enter radon – the radioactive gas that is undetectable by sight or smell. It’s one of those air pollutants that is not controlled by the action taken by humans. Instead, it’s actually caused by nature. As Health Canada explains, radon is created by the breaking down of uranium in the soil and rock that surrounds our homes. When released into the outdoor air, it is not considered a health risk.

So what makes radon dangerous? When concealed within enclosed spaces, radon has the ability to accumulate to high levels. So, for example, when radon seeps into our homes and becomes trapped inside, it is no longer diluted. When we breathe radon into our lungs, the gas – which is known to decay and form radioactive elements – creates radioactive particles that release small bursts of energy, says Health Canada.

As further explained on their website, “this energy is absorbed by nearby lung tissue, damaging the lung cells. When cells are damaged, they have the potential to result in cancer when they reproduce. Exposure to high levels of radon in indoor air results in an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The risk of cancer depends on the level of radon and how long a person is exposed to those levels.”

How does radon enter our homes? Because radon is a gas, it can find many ways to seep into your home. The gas can enter your home through any openings that exist in places where the house is in contact with soil. As Health Canada points out, they can include “cracks in foundation walls and in floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.”

How can radon be prevented from entering the home? Well, one of the first and most logical steps would be to attempt to seal any cracks or openings that would allow radon to seep inside. However, on About.com, Janet Wickell admits that “sealing alone doesn’t usually lower radon levels, but it can limit the flow of radon into a home and reduce the loss of air that’s been conditioned, so it helps make other types of reduction techniques more effective.”

What other prevention methods are there? Soil suction draws radon up from beneath the house and vents it away from the house through pipes, explains Wickell. As well, house pressurization is a method that makes use of a fan that creates pressure differences that help to prevent radon from coming inside the home. Wickell also notes that a heat recovery ventilator or HRV can be used to increase ventilation in the home.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we would also highly recommend our Air Quality Services. Designed to pinpoint all sources of air pollution in the home, our services are known to seek radon, among many other contaminants, out. If you have any concerns about the possibility of radon having entered your home, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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Avoiding Asbestos Makes For A Happy New Year

asbestos road sign illustration design over a white backgroundOn behalf of everyone at DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we would like to wish you a very Happy New Year! Those who are familiar with our company know that we consider “happy” to be synonymous with “healthy”. So really, we wish you a very healthy new year. And, of course, the way we see it, the cleaner the air you breathe, the healthier you will be. Here’s hoping your New Year’s Resolutions will allow for that!

For many Canadians, home renovations are a big part of what makes them happy. And a lot of people place renovations on their New Year’s Resolutions lists. It’s important, however, to keep in mind that renovating your home can present some health hazards that are surely not in keeping with having a healthy new year. Specifically, if your home contains asbestos, you’ll definitely need to have it removed before you make any changes to your home.

Asbestos, when completely left alone, isn’t generally considered harmful. But disturbing asbestos so that its fibres become airborne can be deadly. Inhaling asbestos fibres is known to casuse lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other respiratory damage. Can you believe that the material was so widely used decades ago? In fact, Kat Sieniuc of The Globe and Mail reports that it was actually freely used in schools and homes in, what is now known to be, dangerous ways.

“Some 60 years ago, lumps of wet, grey material were given to students in art classes to shape and mould into art to proudly display at home,” informs Sieniuc, “It was especially good for objets d’art such as candle holders, since the substance was famous for stopping the spread of flames.” She goes on to make clear that today, asbestos is regarded as the toxic material that it is and that there is “no safe level of exposure.”

Before this was common knowledge, asbestos was popularly used in the construction of homes, office buildings and schools as a source of insulation. It was wrapped around pipes that are found behind our walls and above our ceilings. And now, asbestos is known as “the biggest workplace killer in the country”. Sieniuc reveals, however, that saying that asbestos is safe when undisturbed really isn’t a smart way to practice safety.

“The World Health Organization has declared all forms of asbestos carcinogenic and recommends its use be eliminated; the International Agency for Research on Cancer has said there is no safe form of asbestos, nor is there a threshold level of exposure that is risk-free,” she writes. However, there are many schools across Canada that attempt to “contain” asbestos during their renovations. This simply isn’t good enough.

The University of Manitoba’s Dr. Patricia Martens knows this all too well. Sieniuc reveals that in 2012, Dr. Martens was diagnosed with incurable mesothelioma. How did she contract the deadly disease? “Her accidental exposure came as a University of Manitoba student, she believes, in the huge dining-exam room in which she ate her lunch every day,” explains Sieniuc, “It had an open-slat ceiling with beautifully finished wood – and asbestos filling stuffed in the gaps.”

It’s vital that you remember to check for asbestos before making any renovations to your home or office. If asbestos is in your property, and it is disturbed, you make yourself susceptible to some very negative health implications. Let’s avoid that. Contact DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. and ask about our Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services today. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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