Canada’s outdoor air has been consistently ranked as some of the cleanest in the world. But our indoor air quality? the air we breathe in our homes, schools, and offices? That can be an entirely different story.
In fact, indoor air pollutants can lead to a variety of health effects, from headaches and dizziness to heart and respiratory diseases. And these days, we average about 90% of our time indoors, potentially breathing in all sorts of pollutants without even knowing it.
That’s why it’s important to assess our indoor spaces and adjust where possible, so that we can keep our air clean and safe for not just our own health, but the health of those who live with us.
The culprits of indoor air pollution.
So, what actually causes poor indoor air quality? The easy answer: anything that releases gas or particles into the air. Every choice you make in your home, from cooking and renovating to laundry and your favourite hobby, can contribute to indoor air quality.
Have an unvented stove, for example? Using solvents or paint strippers for your next home reno project? These can have long-term effects on your indoor air quality and, in turn, your health.
Here are just a few of the main sources of indoor air pollution:
- Combustion sources (like oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, or tobacco products)
- Building materials
- Central heating and cooling systems
- Household cleaning products
- Damp carpeting or certain types of cabinetry
In short, while you may not be able to see the effects of indoor air pollution, it can be connected all sorts of things in your home.
That’s why we spoke with Michael Driedger, founder and CEO of Airsset Technologies — a platform of software and devices that allow for the measurement, analysis, and solving of air quality for indoor spaces — to get his perspective on how we can work to improve and measure air quality in our indoor spaces.
Improving your indoor air quality.
We know our indoor air quality is important, but what can we do about it?
- Remove what you can. Naturally, if it’s possible to remove the biggest sources of air pollution from your home completely, that’s a great way to make progress towards cleaner indoor air. Areas containing asbestos can be enclosed or sealed to prevent further air pollution, while appliances or building materials can often be adjusted or replaced.
- Adjust or update where possible. Whether it’s a malfunctioning gas stove or an outdated furnace, adjusting or upgrading can lower your emissions, improve indoor air quality, potentially improve your home’s resale value, and maybe even lower energy costs.
- Don’t hesitate to ventilate. No matter the age of your home, according to Michael Driedger, your best line of defense against air pollution is ventilation. That can mean leaving interior doors open, using available fans, and keeping furniture away from windows to allow for sufficient airflow.
Interested in making some household changes to improve your indoor air quality and lower your emissions? Financing is available, including our Vancity Planet-Wise™ Home Renovation Loans. These Planet-Wise solutions are just one of the ways we’re aiming to make net-zero banking possible.
Other factors to consider
When it comes to improving the air quality in your home, stay aware of how your environment changes over the seasons, and the tools you might be able to implement to keep indoor your air quality top notch and top of mind.
Change of seasons
Remember, Driedger says, time of year can greatly affect your air quality needs.
During fire season, for instance, a larger fan will help move more air around. “Many people have taken to making their own box filter during fire season using furnace filters”, explains Driedger.
On the other hand, during a dry winter, a humidifier can help keep illness at bay. “Dry air will irritate your eyes, nose, and mouth and viruses will also survive better in dry air, which is why cold and flu season is in the winter.”
Air quality monitors
A monitor is a useful tool to help keep the air quality in your home at its best. For those interested in a device, Driedger recommends Aranet’s low-cost CO2 sensor.
“It’s not connected to the internet, but it’s battery operated and gives you an idea of how well ventilated a space might be.”
Want to see your air quality in real time from your smartphone? Driedger speaks highly of options from Netatmo, Awair, and Uhoo.
As far as what numbers to look for, Driedger suggests that CO2 in your home should fall below 900 ppm, a unit of measurement used to assess air quality.
“If you’re home all day, you’ll likely see it spike between 11 am and 3 pm,” says Dreidger. “Vancity has a more aggressive target of 800 ppm in its branches, but 900 ppm is a good target for your home.”
To be on the safe side, try to keep dust below 30 micrograms/meters cubed, temperature between 20 and 23 degrees Celsius, and humidity between 30-40%. “You’d be surprised at how much heating the air will dry out your air, even in rainy BC,” says Dreidger.
Small changes add up.
Of course, certain amount of air quality pollution is unavoidable. But just by making a small change that affects the indoor air quality of your home, you can greatly impact your personal health and that of those who live with you.
Whether you choose to buy an air quality monitor, build your own box filter this summer, or switch on the range fan above your stove when cooking — taking the time and effort to improve the indoor air quality of your home can make a massive difference in your health and overall emissions.
And if you’re searching for the right financing for your next home upgrade, don’t forget to check out our Planet-Wise Home Renovation Loans. We’d love to help you improve the comfort, safety, efficiency, and affordability of the place you call home.
Planet-Wise™ is a trademark of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union.