Warning: this is going to sound a bit gross. But when you lay your head down on your pillow to go to bed each night, you’re not exactly alone. Your pillow, in all likelihood, is home to millions of dust mites. And while they are so microscopic they cannot be seen by the naked eye, they remain health hazards for those with asthma and allergies. Now don’t worry – dust mites do not bite, sting or enter our bodies.
Instead, it is their feces and body fragments that present harmful allergens. They love to feed on our dead skin and, as a result, they exist practically everywhere our dead skin may fall. As you may have guessed, they tend to really enjoy our beds considering how often we’re in them and the fact they generally provide warmth. Dust mites thrive on heat and humidity and this is why special attention should be paid to reducing the number that live in your home this summer.
So how can you minimize a dust mite infestation in your home? Here are three ways:
1. Wash your pillows often. Most of us wash our bed linens on a regular basis and naturally, that includes pillow cases. But did you know that you should be washing your pillows as well? Angela Mulholland of CTV News advises us to throw our pillows into the laundry at least two or three times a year in order to remove dust, sweat and saliva stains. If you’re an allergy sufferer, you should wash your pillows more often than that.
“There are lots of guides on washing pillows,” informs Mulholland, “but essentially, a little detergent and Borax to neutralize sweat smells is all you need. Almost all pillows except foam ones can go in the wash. Just be sure they are fully dried to eliminate all leftover moisture. Since foam pellet and solid foam pillows cannot go in the dryer, they should be regularly vacuumed or periodically replaced.”
2. Remove carpets and/or become a “vacuumaholic”. Many Canadians have replaced their carpets for hardware floors to give their homes more aesthetically pleasing looks. But they’ve also done their health a favour by getting rid of these havens for dust mites. If you choose to keep carpet in certain rooms of your home, be sure to vacuum as regularly as you can. Removing dust from your living environment is essential for keeping dust mites at bay.
The Canada Safety Council recommends that you buy a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. “Ordinary vacuuming will only send dust mites and their particles into the air,” they report, “It’s not clear how much a HEPA filter actually helps with allergies, but it’s worth trying. Ideally, if you’re allergic, get someone else to vacuum and dust. Vacuum bags should be changed often, since mites and debris can get out.”
3. Try vapour steam-cleaning. Not many people have heard about this technique, but it is one that can definitely help with the dust mite issue in your home. You see, not all of your bedding can be thrown in the laundry. Take your mattress, for example. As revealed on Gaiam.com, in her book, Home Enlightenment: Create a Nurturing, Healthy, and Toxin-Free Home, Annie B. Bond suggests vapour steam-cleaning as a dust mite removal option.
“Vapour steam-cleaning (using a small machine that heats surfaces with dry steam) kills fungus, dust mites, bacteria, and other undesirables,” she writes, “This is a good way to clean bedding that you can’t launder, such as mattresses. Vapour contains only 5 to 6 percent water (conversely, most steam cleaners use lots of warm water to clean), so the vapour steam doesn’t contribute to a moist environment. Vapour steam deeply penetrates whatever it is cleaning, and it is great for upholstery, couches, carpets, and mattresses.”
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we know how important it is for Canadians to live in homes that promote good health. Eliminating health hazards from the air we breathe is the primary objective of our Air Quality Services. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the summer approaches, most of us conjure up ideas of walking around in shorts and t-shirts to take in the warmth and sunshine. And while summer is the season of bright and sunny days, it is not without its rainy and dreary ones either. When you combine the heat associated with summer and the dampness associated with precipitation, what do you get? The potential for mould growth – and that insists upon protecting ourselves from its harmful effects.
How do summer storms impact our health? On MoldInspections.ca, Toronto-based mould inspection expert, Tara Valley reveals that rain doesn’t necessarily wash away the pollen that generally causes allergy symptoms to flare up. Instead, allergy sufferers often feel the effects of toxic mould after a rain storm. She notes that winds during storms can send pollen airborne, allowing it to travel great distances.
And pollen has an accomplice, “a hazardous material that produces many allergy-like symptoms when inhaled,” Valley describes, “The partner in crime is toxic mould…Unfortunately, there’s a dangerous overlap between hay fever symptoms and mould, including coughing and wheezing. If you’re a regular hay fever sufferer being exposed to mould, you’ll feel like you never get a break from your symptoms, even during a rainstorm.”
How does potential flooding worsen allergy symptoms? As you’re aware, water provides the perfect breeding ground for mould growth. During the warm summers, rain storms that lead to flooding, leave basements highly susceptible to mould infestations. “Mould spores will begin to grow and infest any area that moisture lingers,” Valley explains. Hot temperatures and humidity only exacerbate the situation.
What can be done to limit or avoid mould growth post-flooding? Valley insists that you act quickly, by trying to clean and dry dampness within 24-48 hours of the flooding. She recommends the use of dehumidifiers, fans and heaters to help dry out any rooms that are susceptible to mould infestation. As well, she advises that you remove drywall and any other porous materials that have been dampened.
“Don’t use the area and if possible, stay somewhere else until mould remediation has been completed,” Valley continues, “Try to avoid any contact with any mould – contact with your skin can be harmful and disturbing the spores means you can inhale them.” Hopefully, you won’t have to endure any flooding this summer. In fact, if you prepare for such a worst-case scenario, you can avoid the problems associated with summer flooding altogether.
What can be done to prevent flooding in the event of a summer rain storm? Valley offers up a number of suggestions. They include installing a backwater valve in your basement, extending your downspouts so that they route water away from your home instead of close to basement windows, regularly cleaning debris from your eavestroughs and raising or building up the ground around your house so that water drains away from it instead of toward it.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Mould Assessment Services that thoroughly inspect your home or office for moisture sources that could produce mould. Inspecting building envelop failures, leakage issues and even occupant-based moisture problems, our services help our clients to avoid the health risks associated with mould growth. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email email@example.com.
We would also like to take this opportunity to express our deepest concerns for all of our neighbours in Fort McMurray who are enduring this incredibly troubling time due to the wildfires. We encourage you to donate to the Alberta Fires Appeal through the Canadian Red Cross HERE. All donations will be matched by the Government of Canada.
Indoor air quality is a year-round concern. After all, we spend the majority of our time in our homes. So when you consider that the majority of the air that we breathe is located within our homes, it highlights the importance of taking measures to keep air quality high. This is especially true for asthmatics. Difficulties with breathing are only exacerbated by poor air conditions. And during the summer, air conditions only stand to get poorer.
Humidity is largely at fault for that. The more humid it gets, the harder it is for most asthmatics to breathe. Known as a common trigger for asthma, humidity is a reason that some sufferers stay indoors during the summer. “Stay indoors on hot, humid days,” recommends Madeline Vann on EverydayHealth.com, “If going out into the sauna-like summer is too much for your asthma, stay inside with the air conditioning on, especially during the heat of the day.”
What if you can’t be indoors during a humid day? No matter how hot and humid it gets outside, there are bound to be reasons why an asthmatic can’t lock him/herself up in the house all day. Since nothing can be done about the weather outside, it’s important to control how humid it gets inside. Vann writes that asthmatics should ensure that the humidity in their homes is kept low.
“Even if you can’t control the weather, you can control your home environment,” she reminds us, “Set your indoor humidity to 50 percent or lower to cut down on dust mites, mould, and humidity-related allergens that grow in warm, moist environments.” Speaking of moist environments, precautions should be taken when considering a dip in the pool. For asthmatics, wet surfaces that present havens for mould-growth can become health hazards.
How do swimming pools trigger asthma symptoms? Chemicals in the chlorinated water can present problems. This is especially true for indoor pools. According to the Asthma Society of Canada, asthmatics should opt for outdoor swimming. “Chlorinated swimming pools can also adversely affect people with asthma who are sensitive to the irritant chemicals,” says their website, “Outdoor pools are less likely to cause symptoms because there is better ventilation.”
Vann agrees that asthmatic swimmers should be careful during the summer. “Swimming is a recommended exercise for asthmatics, and in the summer it reduces your chances of becoming overheated,” she admits, “However, some people find that their summer asthma symptoms are triggered by the chlorine added to most pools for water safety. If chlorine triggers symptoms in you, find another activity or exercise program, such as an indoor fitness class.”
What other asthma symptom triggers should be watched out for during the summer? Tree and grass pollens, ragweed, dust, cigarette smoke and other airborne allergens should all be avoided. Of course, many are found outdoors and but some can be found indoors as well. This is why it’s important to both maintain a clean house and beware of the outdoor humidity levels – among other healthful tasks – on a daily basis.
Summer can still be a fun season for asthma sufferers. If you’re an asthmatic and would like some assistance in maintaining a home that is void of asthma symptom triggers, contact DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. Our Air Quality Services are designed to help you enjoy the best possible indoor air quality all year round! For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many people have been calling for the Canadian government to step in and take much more drastic measures as it relates to regulating asbestos use. Because of the numerous findings that prove asbestos is a leading cause of lung cancer, many have called for the ban of the product altogether. Popularly used, prior to the 1990s, as an insulation source in homes and office buildings, asbestos is now widely known as a killer.
Sadly, this message was received all too clearly by Denis Lapointe, who is an Ottawa-based electrician. Having worked at the Canada Revenue Agency building at 875 Heron Road in Ottawa for 16 years, he believed that he wasn’t putting himself in any serious danger while at work. After all, a federal building is one that can be assumed safe, right? Not so, says Lapointe, who discovered that he was exposing himself to asbestos throughout his tenure in the building.
As reported by Julie Ireton of CBC News in March of last year, Lapointe only learned of the full extent of his asbestos exposure after filing access to requests for information. “His job involved drilling and pulling wires through walls, floors and ceilings,” Ireton explains, “He says since he didn’t know he could be disturbing asbestos all those years — his fellow workers wouldn’t have known either.” Lapointe reveals that the experience has affected him both physically and emotionally.
“I was exposed and I wasn’t properly protected, and here I was walking through this place, using air hoses and whatnot and blowing it to other people, so I have a conscience…That eats me up,” he is quoted as saying. After obtaining the documents he requested, Lapointe learned that there was asbestos contamination on all floors of the Canada Revenue Agency building where he worked for the better part of two decades.
The discovery unfortunately proves the sad truth about asbestos exposure. Lapointe is a non-smoker. But as Ireton reports, he had suffered from poor health and breathing problems for years. And while he has not been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, there is evidence of his exposure to the well-known cancer-causer. Lapointe should have been made aware, long ago, that his job presented such a danger.
Denis St. Jean is the national health and safety officer for the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “Since 1986 the Canada Labour Code applies,” Ireton quotes him as saying, “There should have been at least some risk assessments on whether or not these buildings have asbestos containing materials…so they can have readily available that information for their workers.” Without Lapointe’s sleuthing, he may never have discovered the truth.
Ireton reveals that after a reassessment of the CRA building, the facility was found to not be in compliance. As a result, a call for the removal of damaged asbestos containing materials and debris was ordered. In the meantime, Lapointe continues to struggle with his health. And as Ireton reports, “Lapointe’s concerns about the building and his health issues have now led to an investigation by the federal Labour Department.”
Needless to say, asbestos exposure is a very serious health concern. At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we offer Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services that inspect duct work, furnaces, plumbing, electrical wiring, attics, cinder block walls, ceilings and flooring. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email email@example.com.