What kinds of chemical pollutants could be affecting you in your home?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a combustion pollutant that is a leading cause of poising deaths. CO-related non-fire deaths are often caused by heating and cooking equipment that is malfunctioning. Specific types of equipment related to CO deaths are gas-fueled space heaters, gas-fueled furnaces, charcoal grills, gas-fueled ranges, portable kerosene heaters, and wood stoves.
The risk of unintentional CO deaths usually occurs in the young (4 years and younger) and the elderly (75 years and older). CO is an odorless, colourless gas that can cause illness and death. CO is created when carbon is not completely burned off and causes the following common symptoms:
· Chest Pain
Any home with any fuel-burning appliance that is not vented properly, and is not maintained properly, can be a potential source of CO. Follow these tips when using gas-fueled equipment:
· Never use gas-powered equipment, charcoal grills, hibachis, lanterns, or portable stoves in enclosed areas.
· Install a CO monitor. Near the sleeping areas and near your heating system.
· Use vented appliances when possible.
· Make sure your gas heater has a built-in safety device.
· Use appliances that have electronic ignitions instead of pilot lights.
· Use the proper fuel in kerosene appliances.
· Use an exhaust fan to vent to the outdoors over gas stoves.
· Have a trained professional inspect your equipment yearly.
· Do not idle your car in the garage.
For more information on Carbon Monoxide poisoning, please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/air-quality/indoor-air-contaminants/keep-carbon-monoxide-out-your-home.html
Breathing in ozone can damage lungs, small amounts can result in chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation. I can also worsen chronic respiratory diseases like asthma.
Ozone comes from outside of the home and is naturally occurring. It is also created by the exposure of polluted air to ultraviolet light sources (like the sun, or your tanning bed). Ozone that is created outside may enter the home and react with surfaces inside that can create additional pollutants.
For more information on Ozone (O3) please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/air-quality/indoor-air-contaminants/ozone.html
Environmental Tobacco Smoke
Environmental Tobacco Smoke (AKA ETS; second-hand smoke) is a combination of two things:
· Smoke from the burning tobacco
· Smoke that is exhaled by the smoker
Second-hand smoke can trigger asthma; can irritate eyes, nose, and throat, can cause ear infections in children, respiratory illnesses, and lung cancer.
If you are a smoker, smoke outside, smoke near a ventilation fan (like your range exhaust fan which should be exhausting outside), open a window, do not smoke near children.
For more information on second hand smoke please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/smoking-tobacco/avoid-second-hand-smoke/second-hand-smoke/dangers-second-hand-smoke.html
Volatile Organic Compounds
There are many chemicals used as ingredients in the products we use in our modern homes. Many of these organic chemicals vaporize and become gases at normal room temperature – these are known as VOCs.
Some examples of what creates these VOCs are:
· Paints (look for paints that are low VOC, usually marked on the label)
· Many cleaning and disinfecting products
· Degreasing agents
· Hobby products
Some of the common VOCs you would find in your home would include toluene, styrene, xylenes, and trichloroethylene.
Theses chemicals can be emitted from the following sources:
· Aerosol products
· Dry-cleaned clothing,
· Art Supplies
· Cleaners / Spot removers
· Floor wax / polishes
· And even air fresheners
Health effects due to the exposure of these chemicals varies. Lowering the levels of VOCs in your home can be accomplished by the following:
· Use all products according to the directions.
· Have good ventilation when using products.
· Properly dispose of old or unneeded chemicals
· Purchase limited quantities of the product.
· Minimize your exposure to products that contain methylene chloride, benzene, or
Formaldehyde is a prominent VOC found in many household products and construction materials. These products include:
· Glues used in pressed wood
· Preservatives in paints, coatings, and cosmetics
· Coatings in fabrics and draperies
· Finishes on paper products
· And some insulation products like Urea-Formaldehyde (UF) foam insulation
The levels of formaldehyde increase when these products are installed but drop after time.
In recent years, major sources in modern homes come from pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain UF resins – medium-density fiberboard contains a higher resin-to-wood ratio than any other product.
Formaldehyde is a colourless, strong smelling gas, it can cause watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; nausea; coughing, chest tightness, wheezing; skin rashes, and allergic reactions – it may also be a cause of cancer. You can use the following tips to avoid the exposure to formaldehyde:
· Use pressed wood products that are labeled ANSI A208.1-1993
· Use particleboard flooring that is marked with ANSI grades PBU, D2, or D3
· Use medium-density fibreboard that are labeled ANSI A208.2-1994
· Use hardwood plywood labeled ANSI/HPVA HP-1-1994
· Use furniture or cabinets that have a high percentage of the surface that is laminated or coated
· Use products that are not made with UF glues, lumber, or metal
· Avoid the use of UF foam insulation
· Wash durable-press fabrics before using them (ex: curtains)
· Proper ventilation of the home (ex: opening windows, HRV)
· Seal the surfaces of products that contain formaldehyde-containing products (ex: coat with paint, varnish, or a layer of vinyl or polyurethane-like materials)
· Remove products that release formaldehyde from the home
For more information please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/air-quality/indoor-air-contaminants/volatile-organic-compounds.html
Radon is a colourless, odorless gas that occurs naturally in soil and rock and is created by the decay of uranium.
For more information please visit: https://avelarhomeinspection.com/radon-how-it-could-be-affecting-you-right-now/ and https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-risks-safety/radiation/radon.html
Pesticides, how can they effect you?
The effects of pesticides can vary with the product being used, but the effects from most products will be on your eyes, nose/sinuses, and throats; there are some more severe consequences that may effect the central nervous system and kidneys and risks of cancer are possible. Pesticides are made of both inert and active organic compounds that can contribute to higher levels of organic compounds in the indoor air.
It is important to use pesticides properly, as described by the manufacture. Products containing cyclodiene pesticides are commonly misapplied. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching, weakness, tingling sensations, and nausea. There are also concerns that these pesticides cause long-term damage to the liver and central nervous system and increases the likelihood of cancer
For more information on pesticides please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/pesticides-pest-management/public.html
Here are some best practices when it comes to pesticides:
· Store them away from children in a secure location
· Read the label and follow all the directions exactly
· Remove children, pets, and toys from areas before applying
· Properly close the package and make sure that the container is not accessible
· Keep pesticides in the original container
· Keep rodent or insect baits in a secure location
· Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after using
· Let children know that it is poison and that it is not food.
· Keep poison control telephone number handy (http://www.ontariopoisoncentre.ca/ and 1-800-268-9017)