Canadians spend almost 90% of their time indoors. However, indoor air can be laden with chemical contaminants, such as formaldehyde, gases such as carbon dioxide or radon, or organic contaminants, such as mould spores.

What can we do to address the quality of the air inside our homes?

Prevention

Take an active role in preventing indoor air contamination.

  • When cooking, use a range hood fan, to remove fumes from your home.
  • If you need to smoke, smoke outdoors and direct your guests to also take it outside.
  • Ensure all appliances, such as furnaces, fireplaces and stoves, are cleaned and inspected regularly.
  • Avoid any off-gassing products and choose zero- or low-emission alternatives. Paints, caulking, cleaners, particleboard and carpeting all release chemicals, such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air in your home (and into the environment too!). Alternatives are readily and inexpensively available, if you ask.
  • Control moisture. Excess moisture in your home can lead to mould growth, so leave the bathroom fan on for 30 minutes after you shower, avoid hanging wet clothes inside and clean up any water from flooding at once.
  • Test your home for radon gas. Radon penetrates homes through contact with the soil, so seal cracks in your foundation walls and floor. Consider hiring a mitigation professional.
  • Open a window. When weather permits, open a window and air out your home. Let the fresh air in.

Maintenance

  • Most air cleaners attach to your furnace and clean the air before it recirculates throughout your home. Mechanical filters remove particles down to a certain size. These should be replaced every few months. Electronic air cleaners use static electricity to trap particles and remove them from the air. Ion cleaners are the portable version and use similar technology.
  • Note that some air cleaner products generate ozone as a by-product. Health Canada advises against using air cleaners that intentionally generate ozone because of concerns about possible health effects from exposure to higher levels of the gas.
  • Air exchangers are also a great way to improve air quality. If you’re in the market for a new furnace, research whether a furnace with an air exchange is right for your home.

If you’re concerned about your indoor air quality, consider hiring a professional to conduct a survey. AmeriSpec offers an indoor air quality survey to test your home for air contaminants and will offer recommendations on how to improve your indoor air quality.