According to information from The Canadian Lung Association, the average Canadian spends up to 90% of each day indoors. In fact, many people only experience the outdoors when getting in and out of the car at work, home and school, or when doing chores such as taking out the trash or walking the dog. In addition, highly efficient heating and air conditioning systems now keep indoor temperatures and humidity levels constant, causing many people to forgo the once common practice of opening windows to improve ventilation and freshen the air. If your family spends much of their time indoors, and you are concerned that this practice may be contributing to breathing issues, here is what you need to know.

Risk Factors

Poor indoor air quality often affects children and people who have compromised immune systems or current health issues more quickly than it affects healthy adults. The development or worsening of allergies and asthma, along with frequent sinus issues, headaches, and even skin issues can all point to poor air quality in the home.

Common Causes

In most cases, indoor air quality issues are caused by chemical and biological pollutants, although humidity, temperature and even high levels of dust in the home can also contribute to the problem. Common sources of these pollutants include the following:

  • Chemicals present in household cleaners, paints, glues, air fresheners, fragrances and carpeting
  • Smoke from candles, cooking, smoking, and incense
  • Fumes from propane, natural gas or kerosene heaters, furnaces and cooking appliances
  • Pesticides, including insect baits that use poison and flea and tick medications, shampoos and powders used on indoor pets
  • Radon
  • Mold spores, including those found in moist areas of the home, and those commonly found in air ducts
  • Pollen
  • Animal and human dander and skin cells
  • Bacteria
  • Rodent and insect droppings
  • Dust mites
  • Fungi
  • Viruses

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Families concerned about indoor air quality can start by making these simple changes:

  • Remove as many chemicals from the home as possible by opting for healthful cleaning agents like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice, instead of bleach and other harsh chemicals
  • Remove air fresheners and perfumed fragrances
  • Switch to more natural flea control methods on family pets, such as the use of a flea comb
  • Vacuum more frequently to remove dust, dander and other allergens
  • Open windows, when possible, on mild days instead of running the air conditioner
  • Have the HVAC ducts professionally cleaned by Kettle Valley Duct Cleaner or a similar company to remove any mold, dust, bacteria, rodent droppings and other harmful substances from the interior of the duct work