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Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality (IAQ) has become an important health and safety concern. Common issues associated with IAQ include, improper or inadequately maintained heating and ventilation systems. Contamination by construction materials, glues, fibreglass, particle boards, paints, chemicals, etc. Increase in number of building occupants and time spent indoors.

IAQ problems result from interactions between building materials and furnishing, activities within the building, climate, and building occupants.

IAQ problems may arise from one or more of the following causes:

  • Indoor environment - inadequate temperature, humidity, poor air circulation, ventilation system issues.
  • Indoor air contaminants - chemicals, dusts, moulds or fungi, bacteria, gases, vapours, odours.
  • Insufficient outdoor air intake
Mold

Health Canada considers indoor mould growth to be a significant health hazard. The word mould is a common term referring to fungi that can grow on building materials in homes or other buildings. Damp conditions and mould growth in homes increases the risk of respiratory allergy symptoms and exacerbate asthma in mold-sensitive individuals. It is important to know how to identify, address and prevent moisture and mould in your home.

Health conditions that can arise form mould exposure are:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Coughing and phlegm build-up
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms
Energy Efficiency

Homeowners and occupants can make small investments and changes around the home that can improve a homes energy efficiency. Some benefits of improving your homes energy efficiency are; lower energy costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increased comfort in home.

Below you fill find a list of energy efficiency resources that you may find useful.

What is an energy-efficient home?

  • This tool explains energy efficient homes

How can I make my home more energy-efficient?

  • This source talks about how you can make your home more energy-efficient

Buying an energy-efficient new home

  • This tool works as a guide to buying an energy-efficient home and what to look for/how to find a builder.

Canada Greener Homes Grant 

  • This tool focuses on the Canada Greener Homes Grant which is an initiative to help homeowners make their homes more energy-efficient, create new jobs, and fight climate change.

25 Energy-efficient Tips To Lower Electricity Costs

  • This tool provides 25 quick and easy energy efficiency tips.

Meet our Dr. House Chatbot

  • This tool is a chatbot where you can ask various questions and t will provide you with resources to make your home more energy-efficient/ help you buy an energy-efficient home

Energy Saving Tips Made Easy 

  • This tool is a guide to energy saving tips for the home

Tips and tools to save energy at home

  • This tool allows you to select a home energy category and provides you with a guide to saving

A More Energy Efficient Home Awaits 

  • This tool provides various resources for ways to create a more energy efficient home
Fire Safety

Fire can be very dangerous. Not only can it destroy property, but it can take lives. The potential for fire in the home is not something to be taken lightly. Homeowners can ensure fire safety in their homes through the proper use of cooking appliances, avoiding careless use of candles and other sources of ignition, as well as having a fire safety plan that is communicated to all home occupants.

Below you fill find a list of energy efficiency resources that you may find useful.

Fire safety in your home

  • This tool talks about fire safety in your home (smoke alarms, extinguishers, lighters/matches, candles, and general tips)

House fire safety tips

  • This tool includes some house fire safety tips and the importance of taking precautions

Make an Emergency Plan

  • This tool explains the importance of having an emergency plan and includes a home plan template

Home Fires: Before, During & After

  • This tool discusses the before, during & after phases of home fires

Fire Safety

  • This tool talks about what to do in case of a fire, fire safety equipment and includes a home fire safety checklist

How to prevent fires at home

  • This tool discuses way to prevent fires at home and fireplace/wood stove safety tips

Tips on buying and maintaining smoke alarms and CO detectors for your home

  • This tool gives tips on buying and maintaining smoke alarms and CO detectors for your home
Chemical Storage/Safety

Many common household products contain chemicals that when not handled, used or stored safely, can create chemical hazards that are dangerous and cause burns, fires, poisonings and explosions.

Some examples of hazardous chemicals found around the home include antifreeze, batteries, drain cleaners, insecticides, nail polish remover, toilet cleaners, and lawn chemicals. When using any chemicals, it is important to follow these tips to increase safety.

Tips for Safe Use

  • Follow the instructions on the label
  • The product's label must include instructions on how to use and store the product safely, as well as provide hazard symbols and cautionary statements of potential hazards.
  • When in doubt, search up the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on the internet.
  • The MSDS provides key information and safety recommendations related to the product.
  • Never mix household chemicals
  • Mixing chemicals can produce harmful, toxic gases
  • Ensure proper ventilation
  • When using these chemicals, proper ventilation is very important. Open a window or door, run the exhaust fans (during and after using the product)
  • Use protective gear such as goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and skin
  • Wash your hands thoroughly immediately after using the product
  • Do not leave chemical products unattended

Tips for Proper Storage

  • Store chemicals in original containers and according to instructions
  • Keep all hazardous chemicals out of reach of children and pets
  • Never store hazardous chemicals near food or food products
  • Keep chemicals away from items used to prepare and cook foods (silverware, pans, pots)
  • Regularly check containers for leaks or damage
  • Do not store flammable liquids or gases in the home

Tips for Proper Disposal

  • Follow the municipal guidelines on how to dispose of chemicals and other hazardous waste
  • Never burn household chemicals and containers
  • Never pour the contents down the drain (unless directed by manufacturer)
Radon

Radon is an invisible, odourless and tasteless but radioactive gas that is produced in the ground. Normally, it dilutes to virtually nothing in outside air, but our modern homes, schools and workplaces are capturing and concentrating radon to unnaturally high and cancer-causing levels in indoor air. Radon is radioactive and unstable. In a very short period of time, it decays and emits alpha particle radiation, which severely damages our DNA in such a way that it is almost impossible for our bodies to repair without introducing genetic errors (mutations). These errors trigger a worsening cycle of DNA mutation that drives cancer formation. Hence, radon is listed as a category 1 carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), meaning that it absolutely known to cause cancer in humans. Since this substance is inhaled into our lungs- in a home with a high concentration of radon- it mainly causes the formation of lung cancer. Younger people, especially children, are at most risk from the DNA damage caused by radon exposure.

Canada contains some of the highest radon-generating soils on our planet. Although it arises naturally from our geology, radon gas is often drawn up inside modern buildings and concentrated to hazardous levels not seen in nature – thus, high radon exposure is a manmade problem. Canada contains many radon-generating regions, and Canadians have constructed towns and cities across almost all of them. This does not mean, however, that all our buildings contain high radon. There are three factors needed to incur hazardous radon exposure:

  1. Geologic source and pathway (upwards) for radon into a property
  2. Building metrics that actively draw up and concentrate radon
  3. Human behaviour that enables higher exposure

How is radon gas measured? The radiation from radon is measured in a unit called the Becquerel (Bq) which represesnts one alpha particle being emitted per second. When measuring radon, the Bq is monitored per cubic meter of air in your home (Bq/m3). In Canada, the maximum allowable limit set by Health Canada is 200 Bq/m3.

There is only one way to find out if you live in a home that has high levels of radon, by getting the home tested. Radon testing should be carried out by a qualified person, and is inexpensive, simple, and effective. The testing will often comprise of the placing of an ‘alpha track’ device in your home, the device is small, and is similar in size to a hockey puck. It is placed in the home for over a 90-day period, and it will register the Bq/m3 of the indoor air of your home.