With Winter fast approaching here in Toronto, homeowners are getting ready to “seal” their homes off from the outside until Spring arrives (hopefully sooner than later). While sealing your home off from a sometimes harsh Canadian Winter, it also means that your are sealing in your indoor air. It’s a fact that indoor air pollutants cause more damage than outdoor air pollutants, even if you live close to the 401 here in Toronto!
While indoor air pollutants in the home can come from chemicals and fumes from products inside the home, sometimes organic matter, called Bioaerosols, can do even more damage if exposed over a prolonged period of time. Some studies even suggest the main reason we tend to get chronic colds and other ailments over the Winter is because we spend so much time indoors, breathing in everything floating around our home.
What are Bioaerosols?
Bioaerosols are airborne contaminants that can cause a variety of respiratory problems when inhaled. Common examples of this are pollen, viruses, bacteria and mould spores. Some may cause allergic reactions, and others infections. Frequent contamination can lead to chronic respitory difficulties.
Symptoms of the Problem
Early signs of attacks by antigens and allergens include coughing, sneezing, runny noses and tight chests. Some sufferers develop a condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis as a response to repeated infections. If left untreated, this can lead to more serious conditions including asthma.
Where to Look for Bioaerosols
Bioaerosols including bacteria, mould, mildew and dust mites are living organisms that thrive under similar conditions to people living innocently in their homes. These factors include moderate to high humidity and warm ambient temperatures. Hence they also often develop naturally in humidifier reservoirs and dehumidifier drip pans, as well as toilets, showers and ice-making machines.
They soon appear in flooded houses, where they thrive on damp ceiling panels, wet carpets and paneling that’s absorbed moisture. When disturbed, they release tiny spores into the air as they migrate to more destinations. You’ll know when they arrive because you’ll either have an allergic reaction, or spot those characteristic stains.
What to Do when You Detect Mould
Mould is a surprisingly common occurrence in modern homes. Some people overlook it, some pretend it’s not there, while others spend a lifetime trying to get rid of it. The truth is that the environment must change first, or else you’ll just keep on moving it around.
- By a hygrometer at a garden store so you can gauge the temperature and humidity level in your home
- Compare your home with others in your area. Is it warmer with a higher humidity factor?
- Do you make the problem worse by hanging damp clothing up indoors, or bathing or showering frequently?
- Does your basement, or attic feel damp when you enter? Touch the walls, rest your hand on the floor, and look for dripping pipes.
- What are you doing to vent the moisture? How often do you open the windows during winter?
Aim to keep the humidity in your home below 50%. Experiment by opening windows, venting the clothes drier properly, and taking cooler showers. You’ll soon find the best match to your life style. If this sounds a challenge, take another look at your mould before you drop the idea.
The Promise of a Happy, Healthy Lifestyle
Once you get mould and other bioaerosols under control in your family home, you’ll not only benefit from a cleaner house and better health, you may also feel a better sense of well-being too.
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