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School Indoor Air Quality Matters To Your Child's Learning Experience

Mother homeschooling her child.
Indoor air quality is crucial for a healthy learning environment - whether at home or school!

School Indoor Air Quality Matters To Your Child's Learning Experience

Your child’s early learning years are crucial to their overall development. That’s why we, as parents, put so much effort into giving them a healthy learning experience!

And whether we’ve decided to homeschool or enrol them in a local public/private school, we know they’ll be in excellent hands.

But while focusing on successful education, we’ve forgotten about one important factor:

A healthy learning environment!

Creating a healthy learning environment at home or school hugely impacts your child’s academic experience.

So let’s set our children up for success this school year! Let's design a learning environment specifically with their health and academic success in mind.

In this article, learn how poor indoor air quality affects your child’s focus, performance and learning experience. As well as their health and wellbeing!

 

Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect Concentration?

Concentration is one of the most important contributors to a child’s learning success. It helps them receive, understand and remember information more effectively.

In fact, it can also help boost their productivity!

Concentration is a skill that gives students the ability to focus their energy on the task at hand - avoiding potential distractions. Learning this skill early on is helpful in all areas of a student's life - including further education, work, relationships etc.

But did you know that certain poor indoor air quality factors can actually hinder your child’s ability to concentrate?

Two such factors include:

a) High levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), and

b) Ineffective temperature control.

High Levels of CO2

CO2 is a gas that we naturally Exhale.

But if Inhaled, CO2 levels in our blood can begin to rise - lowering the amount of oxygen our brain receives.

Insufficient oxygen can cause headaches, sleepiness, sweating and increased anxiety.

And from a cognitive perspective, insufficient oxygen can also lower our concentration and dampen our mood.

How do CO2 levels get so high in a school?

Overcrowded, poorly ventilated classrooms.

Ineffective Temperature Control

Southern Ontario experienced some intense heat waves this past summer. With temperatures reaching above 30 degrees Celsius!

During these extra hot days, people did their best to stay indoors with their air conditioning turned up high. They were also encouraged to find shade outdoors and, of course, drink tons of water.

These practices helped prevent our bodies from overheating, causing:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea etc.

Besides these physical effects of an unrelenting heat wave, there are cognitive effects to consider too!

Hot and stuffy learning environments are distracting and uncomfortable to work in. Even the simplest of tasks can be very difficult when temperatures are high.

So what if your home or school’s air conditioning doesn’t work?

This can affect students’ health and their ability to concentrate and learn effectively.

 

Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect Academic Performance?

A child’s academic performance relies on several interconnected factors. But one of the most important of those is the air quality of their learning environment.

Healthy indoor air quality helps students think more clearly. But beyond that, it can also encourage effective engagement - allowing the student to better apply themselves to their lessons.

A recent study on the connection between classroom ventilation and academic achievement suggests that: 

“Increasing the ventilation rates toward recommended guideline ventilation rates in classrooms should translate into improved academic achievement of students.”

In this study, scientists found a direct, linear relationship between,

  1. Classroom ventilation rate and
  2. Students’ academic achievement (within the range of 0.9-7.1 l/s per person).

For every unit increase in ventilation (1 l/s per person), scientists expect the number of students passing standardized testing to increase! Specifically, they expect a 2.9% increase in students for math and 2.7% for reading.

We mentioned the distracting health effects of high CO2 levels above. But that's not the only factor you should be aware of when considering poor air quality.

Did you know that one of the top causes of school absenteeism is asthma?

Both asthma and allergies make learning incredibly difficult! With eye irritation, fatigue, headaches, coughing..etc., staying focused and engaged is next to impossible.

What are some of the allergy/asthma sources in a school environment?

  • Dust mites
  • Mould
  • Diesel exhaust from school buses
  • Classroom pets
  • Pollution
  • Rodents

 

Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect Learning Experience?

At this point, you can probably draw your own conclusion about the learning experience when paired with poor indoor air quality.

Student absences may increase.

Academic performance may decline.

Even the dynamic of the classroom itself becomes unhealthy.

And it doesn’t just affect the students!

School teachers and staff are huge contributors to the health of our children’s learning environment.

When poor indoor air quality disrupts a teacher, the whole classroom suffers - making learning difficult for everyone!

 

Effectively Boost Your Indoor At Quality At School and Home!

According to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, indoor air pollution is one of the top five public health environmental risks.

And it’s no wonder!

In Ontario, kids spend at least 5 hours a day learning in an indoor environment. And with 194 school days in Ontario, that’s 970 hours of their lives spent in a classroom!

Don’t let a single precious hour of learning go to waste. Discover 4 ways to help boost indoor air quality, whether at school or home, below!

 

Step 1: Increase Ventilation

Fresh air is one of the most important factors of a healthy learning environment.

After all, schools can get pretty stuffy. Especially with the number of children per classroom!

As mentioned above, increasing ventilation rates can help dilute harmful air pollutants - like CO2 and allergens.

And with reduced air pollution, students can experience improved focus, productivity and performance.

See Our Ventilation Products Here!

 

Step 2: Improve Temperature Control

Our bodies have an internal temperature regulator that helps ensure we don’t overheat or get too cold.

But while our bodies work overtime to raise or lower our inner temperature, our concentration and mood can start to decline.

Installing and maintaining a high-quality air conditioner and furnace can help!

See our selection of air conditioners and furnaces below at our sister company, Shipton’s Heating and Cooling!

See Our Cooling Products

See Our Heating Products

 

Step 3: Invest in Humidity Control

High humidity is a huge contributing factor to respiratory and asthmatic health symptoms.

Warm, damp air is the perfect place for mould and mildew to grow - risking students’ health and the school’s structural integrity itself. After all, damp indoor air can point to many issues, including water damage.

See Our Humidity Control Products Here!

 

Step 4: Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance

Installing the right HVAC equipment is a great first step in improving your indoor air quality. But failing to maintain that equipment can put you right back to square one!

Over time, your HVAC equipment can become dirty - causing your system to become both inefficient and unproductive in the long run. Especially in regards to your indoor air quality!

Here are a few HVAC maintenance tips to keep in mind for healthier air:

Duct Cleaning

Did you know that many contaminants (dust, pollen, animal dander, mould etc.) travel through your air ducts? With these pollutants circulating through each room, asthma/allergy symptoms can quickly increase!

While you don’t need an annual duct cleaning, your ducts must be routinely checked for dirt and grime. That way, you know you’re never spreading around unnecessary contaminants.

Regular Filter Changes

Don’t forget to change your air filters!

We recommend changing your filters at least every 90 days. More if you have pets or people with allergies/asthma.

HVAC Equipment Inspection/Cleaning

Our sister company, Shipton’s Heating and Cooling, offers preventative HVAC Maintenance appointments! 

Trained HVAC professionals will clean, inspect, test and fix your equipment regularly. To ensure everything is working effectively!

Book HVAC Maintenance Here!

 

Because Your Kids Deserve The Best Learning Environment!

Improving air quality can sound intimidating. But our Hamilton IAQ experts at Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions can help!

Call our team at (905) 544-2470 to learn more! Or, schedule a quote with our professionals online!

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How Dirty Is Your Garage Air Quality Really? Take a Good Look!

Man is woodworking in his attached garage.

How Dirty Is Your Garage Air Quality Really? Take a Good Look!

Your garage is one of the most multifunctional spaces in your home.

Some days it’s a workshop, storage shed and carport. Other days it’s an entertainment space or man cave.

But besides all the multifunctional benefits of garages, they also have a downside that most people are unaware of.

Their potential for poor air quality.

Your garage can do a lot, but it’s not powerful enough to maintain its own air quality.

That’s up to you - what you use it for, how you clean it, what you store there etc.

It can be easy to associate the garage with the outdoors. But in reality, most garages are actually attached to the home. Making them an extension of the house rather than a separate, outdoor workspace.

So while you may think your garage air quality doesn’t matter, we’re here to tell you otherwise!

If not taken care of properly, the air in your garage and home can become hazardous to your health.

 

What Are Some Common Garage Air Pollutants That Usually Go Unnoticed?

If a can of spray paint says “do not use indoors”, where do you take it?

If you’re like most people, the correct alternative would seem to be the garage - right?

Wrong!

Spray painting in a contained space, like your garage, can actually be quite dangerous!

Much like your house, your garage needs sufficient ventilation to keep the air clean and healthy.

Otherwise, harmful chemicals and pollutants can pile up - harming your health and home!

Let’s explore some of the unexpected threats to our garage air quality below.

Toxic Chemicals and Pollutants

Almost everyone uses their garage at least partly (if not solely) for storage. This keeps chemical products out of the way and, allegedly, safe from our lungs.

But that’s not necessarily the case.

If not sealed correctly, chemical products can emit toxic gases. And without proper ventilation, these gases either,

a) Become trapped in your garage, or

b) Seep into your home.

Not only does this make your garage air quality dangerous to inhale, but it puts your entire house at risk of air pollution too!

Below are some of the products that can emit these types of harmful gases:

Landscaping Products

  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Fertilizers
  • Weed control

Pool Maintenance Products

  • Chlorine
  • Oxidizers
  • Cyanuric acid

Home Maintenance Products

  • Paints
  • Solvents
  • Glues

Vehicle Maintenance Products

  • Motor oil
  • Degreasers
  • Vehicle cleaners
  • Gasoline

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide

Smoke and carbon monoxide are two very dangerous pollutants. And both are quite common in your garage.

So don't start your car on a chilly morning before opening your garage door just yet!

You might want to read this first.

All combustion and fuel-burning equipment/products can emit toxic gases. And two of their most common emissions include carbon monoxide and benzene.

Both these gases are dangerous, making your garage a health hazard.

But that’s not all!

Both these gases, carbon monoxide and benzene, can also seep into your home.

In fact, according to a study by Health Canada, homes with detached garages have elevated levels of benzene.

Another study shows that 5-85% of the air leaking into homes actually comes from the garage. And it doesn’t come empty-handed!

That’s why we’re told never to let our car idle in the garage! Or to only rev up our yard maintenance tools when we’re outdoors.

Fuel-Burning Equipment:

  • Lawn Mowers
  • Weed Whackers
  • Snow Blowers
  • Chain Saws
  • Vehicles
  • ATVs
  • Snowmobiles
  • Portable Generators
  • Barbeques
  • Gas Lanterns
  • Portable Stoves

Wood Dust

If you use your garage as a woodworking space, keep reading!

The process of woodworking releases and suspends tiny, inhalable dust particles in the air. And when breathed in, these wood dust particles can harm our health for several reasons.

First, suspended wood dust in the air can cause irritation to the skin and eyes.

Second, if the wood dust is small enough, it can penetrate and damage your lung tissue. This can cause irreversible lung damage, making it very difficult for your respiratory system to function.

Third, specific wood treatments, like glue, resin and formaldehyde, can emit harmful toxins into the air. This then puts your health at even further risk.

Causes of Wood Dust Exposure:

  • Sawing
  • Cutting
  • Sanding
  • Routing

 

5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Garage Air Quality

Can you reduce the risk of poor garage air quality?

Absolutely!

Below are 6 practical and affordable ways to help ensure your garage is safe and breathable.

1. Increase ventilation in your garage.

The #1 solution to improving the air quality of your attached garage is to install garage ventilation.

And in our recent indoor air quality and home renovations post, we learned that increasing ventilation can help dilute chemical concentrations.

This includes the toxic chemicals found in:

  • Paints
  • Glues
  • Cleaning products
  • Building materials (i.e. formaldehyde in wood products).

Ventilation is also key in the removal of harmful gases like carbon monoxide and benzene from your garage air.

Practical methods of increasing ventilation include:

  • Opening a window
  • Installing ceiling fans
  • Installing sidewall exhaust fans

2. Seal and store household chemicals properly.

Most homeowners end up filling their garage to the brim with half-empty paint cans, wood stains and other solvents.

Does this describe your garage?

These containers usually enter your house with no issue at all. But they never seem to leave. Instead, they sit in your garage for that elusive “someday-down-the-road project”.

The problem with this habit of keeping half-finished containers is if these containers aren’t correctly sealed or stored.

If they are not sealed or stored correctly, they can emit toxic chemicals into the air. 

When preparing household chemicals for storage, always remember to:

  • Label each item clearly.
  • Reseal chemical products in their original containers.
  • Double-check that the container is completely sealed.

3. Move chemical-containing products to a detached shed.

Storing chemical-containing products away from your home is vital for your health. This includes gasoline, oil, fuel-burning equipment, landscaping products etc.

In most cases, homeowners and car owners use these products quite frequently. Which means they are commonly left unopened or carelessly misplaced.

The solution?

Store these products in a detached shed rather than your attached garage. This will prevent harmful chemicals from drifting from your garage and into your home.

4. Keep smoke and carbon monoxide out of the garage.

As mentioned above, smoke and carbon monoxide are dangerous pollutants. And they should never enter your airways.

To avoid contaminating your garage air with these pollutants, remember to:

  • Never smoke in your garage.
  • Never operate fuel-burning equipment in your garage.
  • Never let your car idle in the garage. 

5. Move woodworking projects outdoors.

Your garage is likely where you store extra wood supplies and woodworking equipment. In fact, you probably do most of your wood processing - sanding, cutting, routing etc. - in the garage.

But, as previously mentioned, wood dust is a serious indoor air quality concern. And it can drastically harm your health.

Avoid spreading inhalable wood dust in the garage by moving your woodworking projects outdoors. We also recommend wearing respiratory protective equipment (RPE) whenever you work with building materials and/or wood processing equipment.

 

For More Practical Home Indoor Air Quality Tips, Follow Along!

At Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions, we strive to provide homeowners with practical, affordable and effective indoor air quality solutions.

And our hope is always that you not only take these tips into consideration but that you implement them in your everyday life - for better, cleaner air.

Want more advice on how to improve your indoor air quality? Stay in touch!

Check back in with our biweekly indoor air quality blog! And don't forget to give us a call at (905) 544-2470 if you have any questions along the way.

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Boost The Indoor Air Quality In Your Nursery In 5 Easy Steps!

Mother comforts her baby in nursery.

Boost The Indoor Air Quality In Your Nursery In 5 Easy Steps!

As parents, our children’s health is our #1 priority. So, naturally, we do everything we can to keep their living space clean and safe.

But while we daily clean the visible messes, the invisible or hidden ones are what can cause the most harm to their health.

Pollutants like VOCs, biological agents, toxins and inhalable particles are usually not seen with the naked eye. And while you may not notice them floating about, you will notice the health risks they bring to your child.

That’s why we’re focusing today’s article on improving the indoor air quality of the nursery - where your child spends most of their first year.

What are some of the indoor air pollutants you should be aware of? Where do they come from? And are there ways to prevent them from contaminating your child’s bedroom?

Keep reading to find out!

 

Potential Indoor Air Pollutants In Your Baby’s Room

The last thing we want, as parents, is to feel powerless in keeping our children healthy. And thankfully, that’s not the case here!

We control the power of poor indoor air quality in our homes.

The key is understanding what the pollutants are and how they get into your home in the first place.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

We discussed the dangers of VOCs in a series of previous blogs - including our recent article on home renovations and indoor air quality.

VOCs are gasses released from particular materials and liquids. This can include furniture, carpets and home cleaning products. And sadly, most nursery furniture doesn’t take this into consideration.

In a recent study, scientists discovered that crib mattresses can release around 30 unique VOCs! Making the crib mattress alone a huge source of indoor air pollutants!

Did you know:

Studies have shown that children exposed to high levels of formaldehyde (a type of VOC) have a higher chance of developing asthma!

Biological Agents

Mould, viruses, animal dander, dust mites, pollen…etc.

According to the EPA, these are all examples of biological pollutants commonly found indoors.

Biological agents can contaminate your home in numerous ways - through your pets, HVAC system, high home humidity… even people!

That’s why most parents ask that you wash your hands thoroughly before holding their baby. Because infants are especially susceptible to particular illnesses carried by biological agents.

PM2.5 Particles

Inhalable particular matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns are PM2.5 particles. Some examples of PM2.5 particle sources include:

  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Cooking byproducts
  • Burning candles
  • Wood-burning fireplaces…etc.

Do you remember our recent blog post on indoor air quality and cooking?

In that article, we mentioned how smoke from your BBQ or even pollutants from your oven can circulate indoor air. And how simply opening a window or keeping a screen door open during a bonfire or BBQ can quickly contaminate your home!

PM10 Particles

Larger than PM2.5 but still inhalable are PM10 - i.e. pollen, dust and mould.

And as you can probably guess, these particles also enter your home quite easily. Whether that’s through an open window to a hay field in your backyard, moving dust around indoors or even bringing in fresh flowers!

Ultrafine Particles (UFPs)

Even tinier than PM2.5 are ultra-fine particles, called UFPs. These particles are actually small enough to,

a) Penetrate lung tissue and

b) Enter your bloodstream!

Some UFPs occur naturally, while others are not.

Human-Made UFP Sources:

  • Burning garbage
  • Vacuuming
  • Cigarettes
  • Indoor cooking

 

5 Steps To Keeping The Air In Your Baby’s Room Clean And Healthy

Now that we know what we’re up against, we can learn how to monitor, mitigate, remove and prevent these harmful pollutants in the nursery!

1. Install An Air Quality Monitor

You’ve heard of a baby monitor, but what about an air quality monitor?

While a baby monitor is helpful to make sure your baby is sleeping and breathing normally. An air quality monitor ensures that the air your baby breathes is safe and healthy.

When shopping for an air quality monitor, look for one that alerts you the second air quality begins to decline.

3. Install An Air Filtration System

Remember earlier when we said we can help control air quality? One of the most effective ways to do that is with air filtration!

An air filtration system with a HEPA filter is a sure way to remove 99.97% of:

  • Dust
  • Dust mites
  • Airborne particles (with a size of 0.3 microns)
  • Bacteria
  • Mould
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander

See our air filtration systems HERE!

3. Increase Ventilation

Ventilation is a crucial factor in good air quality. Without it, air can become stale, musty and humid - encouraging the growth of mould, mildew and dust mites!

Although opening a window for a few minutes each day can help improve airflow in the nursery, it’s not the most effective solution. Especially since that invites pollutants like pollen, smoke and dust indoors.

Instead, we recommend installing a whole home ventilation system! This system ensures your air is always fresh and clean.

4. Control Humidity Levels

Humidity is another major factor in good air quality.

If humidity is too high, the nursery will be damp, stuffy and hard to breathe in - not to mention having increased bacterial growth.

But if humidity is too low, the nursery will be dry - potentially causing skin irritation, eczema, dry eyes and even nosebleeds.

A whole-home humidifier system can help control humidity levels - keeping it a healthy 40%!

5. Use a HEPA Vacuum

As mentioned above, a HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of particles sizing at 0.3 microns.

An air filtration system can remove these airborne particles before they land. But a HEPA filter vacuum can effectively lift these particles from the floor.

And unlike a regular vacuum that recirculates particles back into the air, a HEPA filter traps them safely inside - out of your indoor air!

 

Baby-Proof Your Indoor Air Quality With Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions!

Our indoor air quality experts in Hamilton, Ontario, always strive to keep you and your family safe and healthy at home. That’s why we offer only the best indoor air quality products on the market!

So you can rest easy while your baby breathes easy.

Are you ready to start baby-proofing your indoor air quality? Give our team a call at (905) 544-2470. Or schedule a quote for one of our IAQ products!

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Is The Air You’re Breathing At The Cottage Really That Fresh?

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Explore Ways To Improve Your Cottage Indoor Air Quality.

Is The Air You’re Breathing At The Cottage Really That Fresh? 

Your cottage is your escape. Your oasis. Your peaceful home away from home. 

It’s your chance to get back into nature. To explore, play, and breathe fresh air again. 

But what if the air you’re breathing at the cottage isn’t that fresh? 

What if indoor air pollution has taken over - leaving your peaceful oasis full of harmful allergens and contaminants? 

Suddenly, your relaxing getaway isn’t so relaxing. 

Instead, it’s become a vacation home for unwanted guests - including pests, mould, dust mites and other hazardous pollutants.

In other words, your cottage indoor air quality is actually putting your health at risk! 

The opposite of what it’s supposed to do for your mental and physical well-being.

The solution?

First, we have to understand the specific contaminants we’re dealing with. 

Then, we can discover the potential ways in which these contaminants invaded your cottage. 

Once we know what they are and how they got there, we can take effective action to remove these contaminants from your cottage air. 

Ready? Let’s get started!

 

Common Cottage Pests

Many suburban homeowners in Hamilton spend their summer weekends at their northern Ontario cottages. And who can blame them? Having a peaceful home away from home is the DREAM!

It’s what makes cottages such a hot commodity!

But the thing is, suburban homeowners aren’t the only ones looking for a comfy little retreat. 

If you have a cottage out in the boonies, then you’ve probably dealt with at least a mouse or two. These rodents are one of the most common household pests. And their infestation rate of cottages is no better!

If your cottage isn’t properly sealed, you might unknowingly be sharing it with a few other Canadian critters! Including:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Cockroaches
  • Raccoons
  • Bats
  • Squirrels… etc. 

And these guests aren’t the clean and tidy type. 

They're known to rade food supplies, destroy furniture, chew through wiring and burrow through insulation - all leading to some expensive and time-consuming repairs.

And that’s not even the worst of it! 

Certain pests, like rodents, can even contaminate indoor air quality with their urine and faeces. 

Once dry, this urine and faeces become airborne. Spreading throughout your home and polluting the air you breathe. 

Some of these rodents carry viruses too, such as hantavirus, which can harm your health - causing nausea, fatigue, headaches...etc. 

Cockroach droppings and saliva can also irritate your airways, causing allergy and asthma symptoms.

The Solution:

  1. Seal up any openings in your walls, foundation, soffits, ceiling, flooring… etc. 
  2. Leaving food open and accessible at the cottage is never a good idea. Instead, bring the food home with you, or package it in resealable food containers.
  3. Unless you want your neighbourhood racoons throwing a party while you’re away, you must deal with your garbage. Either dispose of it on your way home or lock it away in a sturdy garbage can. 

 

Using Plywood Indoors 

Plywood is a manufactured wood panel usually used for walls, roofing, flooring, cabinetry and furniture. 

It’s cheap, sturdy and makes a great makeshift bookshelf at the cottage!

But did you know that plywood, among other building materials, can emit formaldehyde? 

Manufacturers use urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins to adhere pressed wood pieces together. And in certain conditions, the finished plywood panel can actually off-gas this chemical - releasing it into your indoor air. 

Have you read our recent blog about the indoor air quality effects of remodelling? If so, then you already know all about this harmful gas. 

A low concentration of formaldehyde, roughly 0.1 ppm, doesn’t usually affect your health. However, according to the EPA, a higher concentration can cause:

  • Nausea,
  • Watery eyes,
  • Burning sensations in your eyes and airway, and
  • Respiratory difficulties. 

The Solution:

  1. Use exterior-grade pressed wood products with low emissions. 
  2. Maintain a moderate temperature in your cottage at all times. 
  3. Install a whole home ventilation system.
  4. Invest in a whole home dehumidifier. 

 

Wood Smoke 

Many cottage owners choose to heat their cottages with a wood-burning fireplace. 

It offers a cheaper heating solution during the cold winter months. And, if you own acres of forest, you’ll have an almost endless fuel supply! 

But, if you choose a wood-burning fireplace, be wary of the wood smoke.

Without proper care and maintenance, wood smoke can seep into your home and lower your indoor air quality. 

According to Health Canada, pollutants caused by wood smoke include:

  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

And the health effects of these pollutants are not pleasant. From nausea to dizziness, headaches and eye irritation, wood smoke can affect anyone! 

The Solution:

  1. Properly maintain your wood-burning fireplace. 
  2. Clean your chimney and flues regularly. 
  3. Use your dampers. 

 

Dust Accumulation

Is your cottage seasonal? Weekend-use only?

Although you might not have pets and people contributing to the dust in your home 24/7, other factors are. 

Potential dust sources at the cottage: 

  • Pollen 
  • Soil 
  • Dust Mites 
  • Food Debris 
  • Insects 
  • Insect Droppings…etc.

So even while you’re away from your cottage, dust and dust mites can still accumulate! Giving you a warm welcome of sneezing fits, watery eyes, runny noses and congestion - not the summer vacation you imagined.

The Solution:

  1. Reduce your humidity. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid areas. Installing a dehumidifier and adjusting your air conditioner can help lower humidity levels. 
  2. Remove all potential dust mite homes - drapes, curtains, upholstered furniture, carpet…etc.
  3. Dust as regularly as possible (using a microfibre cloth for best results).
  4. Schedule a professional duct cleaning.

 

Purify Your Cottage Indoor Air Quality With Shiptons CleanAir Solutions!

Your cottage should be a breath a fresh air. A place where you can feel refreshed and rejuvenated - not sick and tired (literally). 

Get in touch with our team at Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions! We can help purify your cottage indoor air - ensuring that your vacation home is ACTUALLY a vacation for you and your family. 

You can contact our team at (905) 544-2470 or visit us online! 

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Does Indoor Air Quality Affect Your Sleep At Night?

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Explores How Poor Indoor Air Quality Affects Sleep and Health.

Does Indoor Air Quality Affect Your Sleep At Night?

We all want a deep, restful sleep. Not only do our bodies crave physical rest, but our mental health and overall quality of life also need a good night’s snooze.

So how come we toss and turn? Could it be that our indoor air quality affects our sleep more than we know?

It’s time to throw back the covers and learn how we can improve our sleep. After all, our health is counting on it!

Keep reading to discover how poor indoor air quality can impact your slumber.

 

Our Bodies Need Sleep - It’s Nonnegotiable!

Sleep is fuel for our busy, on-the-go bodies. It restores our energy and allows us to begin each day with alertness, strength and vigour.

Sleep is also a necessary component of a high-functioning brain. Did you know that while you slumber, your brain is actually memorizing and learning the experiences you had throughout the day?

Maybe that’s why people always tell us to “sleep on it!” when we have to make a big life decision.

Beyond the learning process, sleep is also crucial for your emotions and stress management. Without enough sleep, you could experience higher stress levels. Or have difficulty processing emotions. You might even notice significant changes to your mood, memory, attentiveness, pain perception…etc.

In fact, according to Canadian Public Health, almost all your bodily functions require sufficient sleep - including the,

  • Immune System,
  • Brain,
  • Heart,
  • Lungs,
  • Metabolism and
  • Endocrine System.

Without enough sleep, your whole body suffers!

 

The Impact Of Poor Indoor Air Quality

What does our indoor air quality have to do with it?

Does the quality of our air really impact the quality of our sleep that much?

In short, yes!

Indoor air quality can make it difficult to fall asleep. But it can also lower the quality of your sleep and prevent some of the health benefits of a good night’s rest.

Here’s how:

Allergens

How often do you clean the mattress, curtains, rugs and other materials in your bedroom?

Most people don’t even think of cleaning these areas.

Not weekly.

Not monthly.

Not even yearly!

So while you might think you’re sleeping on a fresh, clean cloud after changing your sheets, that’s not usually the case.

Allergens like dust mites, pet dander, pollen and mould are commonly found in the bedroom. You can usually find them hiding in a dark corner of the closet or within the fibres of your bedding.

And the impact of these hidden allergy triggers on your health is never pretty!

Nasal congestion, coughing, itchiness and shortness of breath are only a few of the allergy symptoms associated with these triggers. And all make it next to impossible to fall asleep!

Indoor Air Pollution

Did you know indoor air pollution is often more dangerous than outdoor pollution?

Your home is full of pollutant sources - many that you aren’t even aware of!

For example:

In one of our recent articles, we talked about some toxic chemicals emitted in things like laundry detergent and fabric softeners. And how cleaning your laundry with these products can potentially harm your indoor air quality.

Some of these laundry products emit harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). In fact, even your mattress, furniture and paint can emit VOCs!

VOCs are human-made chemicals that can cause short-term health effects like:

  • Nose, throat and eye irritation
  • Nausea
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches…etc.

In the long-term, they can even cause damage to your nervous system, liver and kidneys!

Not only can indoor air pollution make sleeping more difficult, but it can also harm your overall well-being if left unchecked!

Temperature

Would you rather:

a) Sleep in a warmer room, or

b) Sleep in a colder room?

Let’s see what Statistics Canada has to say about this!

In Canada, 29% of households turn off their conditioning overnight. 16% set their A/C’s to 24 degrees Celcius or higher. 33% prefer to sleep in a bedroom set between 20-23 degrees. And lastly, 9% prefer 19 degrees or lower!

So who’s right?

While the temperature of your bedroom usually relies on personal preference, science does recommend keeping a temperature of around 18.3 degrees in your bedroom. This temperature helps your body maintain a healthy and comfortable core temperature.

Did you know that your body temperature decreases while you sleep? Keeping your room cool will help your body sustain that ideal temperature so you can sleep comfortably throughout the night!

Humidity

Humidity - that unpleasant hot, stickiness that makes everything around you feel damp.

It’s undeniable that a lack of humidity control hampers our sleep like no other.

High humidity brings a high moisture content to your room - making it feel warmer than it really is.

Low humidity dries out your air - causing itchy skin, sore throats and dry nasal passages.

Both ends of the spectrum can significantly affect the quality of your sleep.

 

Better Air Quality Means Better Sleep

So, how do we prevent these poor indoor air quality factors from affecting our sleep?

Air Ventilation

Home air ventilation can help reduce stale air, pollution and moisture content!

At Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions, we offer Heat Recovery Ventilators. These systems are great for filtering fresh air into your home and circulating it - day and night!

Air Filtration

Adding air filtration to your home’s heating and cooling system is a great way to remove allergy triggers like:

  • Dust mite
  • Pollen
  • Mould spores
  • Pet dander…etc.

Our Pristine Air Filtration Systems offer features like HEPA filtration, UVC Light Filtration, whole house germ control and odour removal. So you can breathe easy at night!

Whole House Dehumidifier

A whole-house humidifier can help to effectively:

  • Control humidity levels.
  • Protect wood flooring and furniture from drying, cracking, buckling or separating.
  • Prevent static electricity.
  • Relieve dry, itchy skin.
  • Reduce susceptibility to infection.
  • Reduce nosebleeds (because nobody wants to wake up with one of those!).

A/C & Furnace Maintenance

We have talked about the importance of furnace maintenance and A/C tune-ups quite a bit over on our sister site - Shipton’s Heating and Cooling. And both preventative maintenance services are essential in maintaining good indoor air quality.

During a maintenance call, our HVAC technicians will ensure your system(s) are clean, in good working order and operating at maximum efficiency. 

We’ll also make sure to change your A/C or furnace filter too!

Changing your HVAC filter out about every 90 days can help ensure the air in your sleeping space stays clean and fresh. Plus, it can also help extend the life of your HVAC system.

A win-win if you ask us!

Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is another easy and effective way to help improve the quality of your indoor air. With the right duct cleaning package, you can:

  • Remove odours.
  • Remove mould.
  • Reduce dirt and debris.
  • Reduce harmful toxins and allergens.
  • Improve your HVAC system’s airflow.

 

Catch Some Z’s With Our Summer Savings Event!

Our Summer Savings Event is on now!

This summer, get 10% OFF our Duct Cleaning Services and $50 OFF our Whole-Home UV Filtration Systems!

*This offer expires on August 31st, 2022.

*Cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.

 

Contact Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions To Learn More About Indoor Air Quality!

With good indoor air quality, you’ll sleep soundly in no time!

Give our IAQ specialists a call today for a free, no-obligation quote on our indoor air quality products. We’re happy to meet with you to discuss your unique needs. Contact us by phone at (905) 544-2470 or message us online!

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How Do Home Renovations Really Affect Your Indoor Air Quality?

Find out how home renovations can affect your indoor air quality with Shipton's CleanAir Solutions experts.

How Do Home Renovations Really Affect Your Indoor Air Quality?

‘Tis the season for home renovations! But as you’re tearing down drywall and painting room by room, don’t forget to pay attention to the air you’re breathing in too! Home renovations can quickly take a toll on your indoor air quality.

Although renovating your home is exciting, it can also be very, very, very dirty. The job itself creates a mess like no other!

And if you’re not careful, the fumes and particulate matter formed in the air can become dangerous to you, your family and your environment. Some of these contaminants can include drywall dust, VOCs, wood dust, formaldehyde...etc.

Do you know how these contaminants can affect your indoor air quality? If not, better put the paintbrush down for a few minutes and start reading!

Before any home project, you must learn the potential contaminants you are working with.

Where do these contaminants come from?

How do you handle them safely?

And how do you get rid of them?

 

Understand The Health Risks of Home Renovations and Learn How To Protect Your Indoor Air Quality

Are you an HGTV fan, full-fledged construction worker, home designer, house flipper or long-time homeowner? If so, you know the excitement of starting a new home project.

You can envision the end result perfectly! The beautiful new paint colour, bedroom addition or kitchen remodel. Whatever the project might be, you have a plan in mind and are ready to tackle it as quickly as possible.

But don’t go tearing down walls or stripping paint just yet!

Before you swing the hammer or lift a paintbrush, you should understand the effects and potential health risks of your renovation plans.

So, let’s get started!

Wood Dust

Have you ever been to a construction site? If so, then you know the drill. Before entering the work zone, you need the proper safety equipment - also called PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). This can include safety glasses, gloves, ear protection, hard hats, respiratory protection...etc.

PPE protects construction workers and anyone visiting from things like falling objects, loud noises, injuries and dust.

One of the things you’ll notice at a construction site is a hazy cloud of wood dust.

Airborne wood dust forms during different processes like sawing or sanding. And you can come into contact with it in different ways:

a) Directly when the wood is being cut/sanded or

b) Indirectly when cleaning the area.

Some potential health issues associated with wood dust include skin irritation, coughing, dermatitis, respiratory difficulty, sneezing, headaches...etc. 

To protect yourself from these health issues, we recommend:

  • Choosing safe materials.
  • Increasing ventilation.
  • Sealing vents.
  • Moving furniture out of the designated area.
  • Sealing off work areas.
  • Reducing dust production.
  • Cleaning up after yourself.
  • Wearing respiratory protection.
  • Wearing protective clothing.

It also helps to understand the varying health effects of specific wood types so that you know the risks at hand.

Drywall Dust

Drywall dust is also considered a health hazard. It’s formed during the process of cutting or sanding drywall.

And just as you would wear respiratory and skin protection while dealing with wood dust, you’ll want to wear the same PPE when dealing with drywall dust.

As it becomes airborne, this dust can cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. And, if exposed to drywall dust for a long time, it can even cause respiratory difficulty, coughing and phlegm.

To prevent this dust from attacking and irritating your airways, we recommend controlling its spread by:

  • Sealing vents.
  • Hanging up plastic sheets.
  • Using box fans to direct the dust to open windows.
  • Cleaning up after yourself.
  • Changing the A/C or furnace filters regularly.
  • Moving furniture out of the designated area.

Learn more about the risks and controls associated with drywall dust at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

VOCs in Paints and Primers

Everyone loves a fresh coat of paint. It can make the old new again! Or the outdated, modern! But is it safe for your indoor air quality?

That depends!

If built before 1960, your home could likely contain lead-based paint. So if you’re planning on remodelling, you need to be extra careful when removing, repairing or disturbing this type of paint.

If exposed to lead-based paint fumes, you are at risk of lead poisoning. And the health dangers of lead poisoning are not to be taken lightly. They include anaemia, brain damage and nervous system damage.

If you’re unsure whether there is lead-based paint in your home, visit Health Canada!

Today, most consumer paints produced in Canada are lead-free. But that’s not to say that all paint products are safe.

In fact, most paints contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can cause short and long-term health issues.

Some potential short-term health effects of VOCs:

  • Headache.
  • Respiratory difficulties.
  • Dizziness.
  • Eyes, nose, or throat irritation.
  • Nausea.

Some potential long-term health effects of VOCs:

  • Nervous system damage.
  • Liver damage.
  • Kidney damage.

We recommend using low-VOC or no-VOC paint products to help prevent these health risks. We also recommend increasing ventilation while dealing with VOC-containing products.

Harmful Chemicals in Building Materials

Did you know that many building materials contain harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde? That’s why choosing the safest materials is vital to your and your family’s health!

Formaldehyde is an invisible yet harmful gas. And according to the EPA, it can cause irritation, respiratory difficulty, allergic reactions, nausea…etc.

The most significant source of formaldehyde in homes is usually pressed-wood products made with formaldehyde-containing adhesives. Some of these include the wood products used in cabinets, plywood, particleboard, laminate flooring and furniture. Even curtains and drapes can contain formaldehyde!

When working with materials that contain formaldehyde, we recommend:

  • Using exterior-grade pressed wood products.
  • Running your air conditioner to prevent the room from getting too warm.
  • Running a whole-house dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels.
  • Increasing ventilation.
  • Airing out new products before moving them indoors.

 

Always Practice Proper Clean-Up, Storage and Disposal

Lastly, we always encourage the proper clean-up, storage and disposal of all building materials, equipment and work areas.

  1. Contact your local hazardous waste management company for more information on waste pickup/drop-off near you.
  2. Clean the work area with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner.
  3. Once you have completed the job, change your air conditioner and/or furnace filters.
  4. Store your paints and other materials in tightly sealed containers.

 

Our Shipton’s CleanAir Crew Is Always Here With Expert Indoor Air Quality Advice!

Now that you know what you’re dealing with, it’s time to get to work! But don’t forget to keep this article on hand should you have any questions or concerns along the way.

Want more indoor air quality tips and tricks? Stay in touch! We post bi-weekly articles full of quality advice from our air quality experts!
 

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Did You Know? Cooking Can Actually Harm Indoor Air Quality!

Shiton's CleanAir Solutions helps homeowners improve their kitchen indoor air quality this summer.

Did You Know? Cooking Can Actually Harm Indoor Air Quality!

Cooking is more than just a means of feeding your family. It is a form of tradition, creativity, excellence and health! But while focusing on cooking a nourishing meal, you may not realize how cooking affects your indoor air quality. 

Did you know that certain cooking appliances and activities emit harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), particulate matter and hazardous gases? Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of these emissions can cause potential health effects too! Effects include respiratory difficulties, headaches, flu-like symptoms...etc.

Many cooking activities also produce excessive water vapour - contributing to indoor humidity levels.

In this article, our experts explore how cooking affects indoor air quality. We also give you a few pointers on improving your kitchen air quality as you cook! 

 

What Pollutants and Pollutant Sources Are In The Kitchen?

According to a study done by Health Canada, Canadians spend about 90% of their time indoors. They work, sleep, clean, do their laundry, cook….etc. all from the comfort of their home. That’s why our CleanAir Solutions team provides you with all the knowledge and advice we can about improving indoor air quality. Because we know how crucial it is to your health. And to the health of your family!

In our last blog, we explored all the different ways laundry affects your indoor air quality. We learned how certain practices like cleaning your dryer vent can reduce the risk of poor ventilation and carbon monoxide emissions. We also learned how some everyday laundry products release harmful VOC concentrations. We even touched on how laundry plays a role in the humidity of our homes. 

In this post, we will expand on that research - moving from the laundry room to the kitchen! 

What are some of the pollutants in our kitchens? Are there ways we can mitigate or prevent them? Where do they come from in the first place?

Keep reading to find out! 

What Types Of Cooking Activities Produce Pollutants?

  • Deep-Frying 
  • Frying 
  • Roasting 
  • Broiling 
  • Browning 
  • Charring
  • Sautéing 
  • Toasting 
  • Baking 
  • And burning! 

Most, if not all, cooking activities produce some sort of by-product. 

In fact, whether you use a gas or an electric stove, the simple act of cooking produces particulate matter (PM) - also called particle pollution. And even these tiny airborne food, oil or fat particles can cause potential harm to your health.

We explore some of the cooking activities that produce these pollutants in more detail below:

Deep Frying

When someone says deep-fried food, our minds instantly go to yummy treats like deep-fried chicken, doughnuts and potato chips. Not the potential health risks associated with this cooking activity, like eye irritation and respiratory difficulty. 

We are here to change that! Why? Because everyone should be aware of the potential dangers in their home environment. Only then can we make an informed decision for our health. And the health of our family. 

Deep frying involves lots of oil or fat and extremely high temperatures. The concept is to submerge ingredients (i.e. doughnuts) deep into the hot fat - resulting in a crisp crust and complex flavours. 

The downside to deep frying in your kitchen is the high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), PM and other unhealthy air pollutants. 

Browning

How do you prefer your toast? Golden brown or charred? 

Scientists say that, when toasting bread, you should aim for a golden finish. And not just for taste preference! 

A darker discolouration can result in higher PM concentrations, brown carbon and VOC emissions. 

In fact, that morning bread-in-the-toaster smell is actually caused by the emission of these compounds in your indoor air. 

Grilling 

Barbeque season is one of our favourite times of the year. And we bet the same is true for most Canadians!

But did you know grilling can harm your indoor air as well? 

Charcoal is actually the worst pollutant source in regards to grilling. It can release,

  • HCAs,
  • Smoke,
  • Ash and 
  • PAHs 

According to the EPA, smoking woods (i.e. hickory) can release:

  • PM
  • Benzene 
  • Formaldehyde 
  • Acrolein 
  • PAHs

Even charcoal lighter fluid, natural gas and propane grills release harmful pollutants. 

In fact, all grilling methods cause emissions, whether you choose to barbeque, grill or smoke. 

But do you have to worry about these pollutants if grilling outdoors? Absolutely you do. 

You especially have to if you use screen doors or open windows as ventilation for your home. Smoke can pollute indoor air as it drifts from your barbeque and enters your home through open windows. 

So what are some of the health effects associated with these cooking-related pollutants?

Potential Health Effects Of Cooking-Related Pollutants

  • Wheezing 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Coughing 
  • Headache 
  • Fatigue 
  • Flu-like symptoms 
  • Asthma Symptoms
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation

How do we mitigate indoor air pollution from cooking and prevent these health effects? We listed a few different ways below! 

 

How To Improve Indoor Air Quality In The Kitchen

Use a Range Hood

According to a Health Canada study, using a range hood can reduce PM, Nitrogen Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and water vapour. 

Instead of spreading throughout your kitchen and home, the range hood vents these pollutants outdoors. Removing them from the indoor air you breathe in. 

Pro Tip: set your exhaust fan on a high setting (300 cubic feet/minute) while cooking. This will help reduce your exposure to these pollutants by 80% more than if you set it to a slower speed.

Put It On The Back Burner

Overhanging oven hoods usually only cover the two back burners on your stovetop. This means these two burners offer the most ventilation - reducing your exposure to harmful pollutants.

Pro Tip: we recommend focusing your cooking activities on these two back burners. 

Switch To An Electric Stove

Natural gas and propane stoves can generate many harmful pollutants, including:

  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide 
  • Carbon Dioxide 
  • Formaldehyde 
  • PM 

And while electric stoves can potentially emit particulate matter, they do not produce nearly as much air pollution as gas stoves. 

Pro Tip: switch to an electric stove to help reduce the production of these harmful gases in your home. 

Clean Your Oven Properly 

How often do you clean your oven? Do you clean it safely?

Whether you have an electric or gas oven, cleaning it is 100% necessary. But be mindful of the self-cleaning feature! 

Although this is a convenient component, it can potentially be dangerous too! This self-cleaning process can emit high concentrations of airborne pollutants, including:

  • PM 
  • Nitrogen Dioxide 
  • Carbon Monoxide 
  • Formaldehyde 

Pro Tip: ensure your range hood ventilation is on a high setting when using the self-cleaning feature on your oven.

Increase Ventilation 

Ventilation is key to good indoor air quality. It can prevent mould growth, remove harmful substances and mitigate VOC concentrations.

And while a range hood is a great way to ventilate your home as you cook, it may not be enough! Other ventilation methods can help too. 

Try opening windows in your kitchen or installing a whole-house ventilator!

Learn How To Barbeque Safely 

Understanding and practising grilling safety is a must. And thankfully, the National Fire Protection Association has offered many barbeque safety tips relating to potential fire hazards in charcoal and propane grills.

But as you read earlier, barbeques can pose potentially serious indoor air quality issues too. Smoke can easily drift from your barbeque to your home through an open window, screen or door. 

To help prevent smoke from getting into your indoor air, remember to: 

  1. Move the BBQ to a safe location and angle it away from your home.

  2. Close all windows and doors to your home before you light the grill. 

 

Learn More About Indoor Air Quality From Our Shipton’s Clean Air Solutions Technicians!

At Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions, we give you the tools and tips you need to stay safe and healthy at home - all summer long! 

Do you have questions about your indoor air quality? Let us know! 

You can reach our IAQ team at (905) 544-2470 or online!

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6 Laundry Hacks You Need To Know For Better Indoor Air Quality

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions offers 6 laundry hacks for better indoor air quality.

6 Laundry Hacks You Need To Know For Better Indoor Air Quality

Is cleaning your laundry having an adverse effect on your indoor air quality?

When most of us think of laundry day, we think of clean, fresh-smelling clothing. After all, that’s what laundry day is all about, right? Freshening things up?

In theory, yes.

But in reality, cleaning your laundry could actually hamper the quality of your indoor air.

Doing laundry in your home can cause mould growth, high humidity, dust mites, toxic chemicals and more! Effects which are far from beneficial for your indoor air quality and potentially dangerous for your health. 

So before you throw another load in the dryer or wash machine, read through these 9 laundry hacks for better indoor air quality. They can help keep your indoor air clean and fresh while also lowering your energy bills!

1. Clean Your Dryer Vent

Keeping your dryer vent clear and clean is vital for three reasons.

First, a buildup of dryer lint can become a fire hazard. The hot air and static in your dryer can ignite a spark with the excess lint found in your dryer vent.

Secondly, dryer lint can also hinder the proper ventilation of gas-powered dryers. This could then release carbon monoxide into your indoor air. - a colourless, odourless and toxic gas that is both flammable and poisonous.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Chest Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Upset Stomach

If inhaled, large amounts of carbon monoxide can also cause fainting or death!

Thirdly, as lint accumulates in the liner of your dryer ducts, airflow becomes restricted. This restriction causes your dryer to consume more energy - lowering its efficiency and raising your energy bills.

Improve your dryer’s efficiency, minimize the risk of fires and keep your indoor air safe with our dryer vent cleaning services!

Schedule Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning

2. Try Using 100% Natural Laundry Detergents and Fabric Softeners

What laundry detergent and fabric softener brand do you use and why?

Shopping for a “fresh” new laundry scent is exciting. We look for the perfect fragrance, the best reviews and the most affordable prices - all in search of a solution that suits our preferences and budget.

However, the factors that guide this decision-making process may have to change.

In light of a recent study, some fragranced laundry products can be harmful to our indoor air quality. These products can emit concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Studies have also found that many laundry detergents and fabric softeners contain toxic chemicals that release harmful fumes. These fumes can then enter your body through inhalation or skin absorption, causing serious health effects.

Our indoor air quality experts recommend using 100% natural laundry products to lessen the risk of this toxic exposure.

3. Prevent Mildew and Mould Growth In Your Washing Machine.

When was the last time you cleaned your washing machine? If you can’t remember, or maybe you never have, there might be an unpleasant surprise hidden inside for you.

Do you recall our recent article on mould, weird smells and high humidity in your basement? If so, you might remember that heat and warmth creates the perfect breeding ground for mould and mildew. And if you've smelt a musty odour on your supposedly “fresh” laundry recently, you've probably seen the first sign of it!

But don’t worry! Although your washing machine may be the perfect home for mould, this bacterial growth isn't inevitable. In fact, there are a couple of easy ways for you to help prevent mould growth from happening.  

First, always remember to keep the lid of your washing machine open after you run it. This will help dry it out and release some heat from inside.

Second, remove damp laundry immediately after the cycle is complete. Although it’s common for us to throw a load of laundry in and forget it for an entire day, this can increase the chances of mould growth in your machine.

4. Use a Dehumidifier

Speaking of hot and damp environments…did you know that daily housekeeping tasks like laundry can increase the humidity in your home?

Your laundry room is actually an especially hot and humid area of your home. With both machines running, clothes air drying and a pile of sweaty clothes piling up in the corner, you’re practically inviting mould growth!

To reduce the humidity in your laundry room, we recommend:

a) Cleaning your laundry room to keep it as dry as possible, and

b) Installing a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture.

5. Use a Clothesline.

Many of us air dry our clothes indoors to save money on energy and preserve the shape and quality of fabrics. But did you know that indoor air drying can dramatically increase your indoor humidity levels?

Leaving your laundry to dry indoors creates that perfect humid environment for mould growth and dust mites. It also means your dehumidifier has to work even harder to remove this excess moisture.

To save energy and maintain a healthy humidity level in your home, we recommend using a clothesline as much as possible. 

Plus - your clothes will actually smell fresher when dried in the fresh outdoor air!

6. Ventilate Your Laundry Room.

Circulating the air in your laundry room is key to managing moisture and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

Ventilation also introduces fresh air into your laundry room while removing that unpleasant, stale, muggy air. Because nobody wants to walk into a sauna every time they fold laundry.

Recommended Ventilation Equipment:

 

Freshen Up Your Laundry Room With Indoor Air Quality Products by Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions!

Is laundry day hampering the quality of your indoor air? Although laundry is nobody’s favourite chore, you should never have to worry about it harming your indoor air quality. By following the above recommendations, you can help keep your indoor air clean and safe!

Stay in touch with Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions for more indoor air quality hacks! You can reach us at (905) 544-2470 or contact us online

P.S. Don't forget to book your professional dryer vent cleaning while you’re at it!

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Which Basement Air Purifier Is Best For Mould, Weird Smells and High Humidity?

Shipton's Cleanair Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, explores the best basement air purifier for your home.

Which Basement Air Purifier Is Best For Mould, Weird Smells and High Humidity?

Avoiding your basement this spring due to some nasty smells?

You’re not alone! Managing the air quality in residential basements is not an easy task. 

The unpleasant odours in your basement can come from many factors - including mildew, stale air, VOCs, poor ventilation, mould etc.

And if you've carpeted your basement, you’ll probably have an even stinkier experience! Capillarity causes moisture to come up through the foundation of your home. This moisture can then dampen your home and create the perfect environment for mould growth, dust mites and mildew. 

But with the right basement air purifier, you don’t have to worry about harmful allergens, chemicals, toxins or stinky smells!

Air purifiers remove these harmful contaminants and release clean air into your basement. 

But which air purifier is best? 

If you want to stop avoiding your basement, this article is for you! We explore common basement air quality problems, why they exist and how to remove them with the right air purifier. 

 

Three Common Basement Air Quality Problems

Your basement can be many things - a recreational room, man cave, craft room, extra bedrooms. Even a downstairs apartment! But what it should never be, is home to VOCs, dampness, stinky mould and musty odours. 

Where do these contaminants come from? And why are they so common in your basement?

Mould 

If you’ve ever noticed a musty, earthy odour coming from your basement, you’ve encountered one of the first signs of mould growth. 

As mould grows, it emits gases that circulate the basement air and embed into surrounding fabrics. This embedding is what causes your carpet, couch and curtains to reek. 

Other signs of mould include moisture problems, deteriorating paint and varying health symptoms. 

Health Symptoms of Mould:

  • Wheezing 
  • Itchy eyes or skin 
  • Stuffy nose 
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Fever 
  • Shortness of breath 

What causes mould to grow? 

The perfect environment for mould growth has six elements: 

  1. Mould Spores
  2. Food (organic materials)
  3. Moisture
  4. Darkness 
  5. Oxygen
  6. Warmth (not too cold and not too hot)

If you're concerned about mould in your basement, go through the above list again! Don't forget to place a checkmark on each element present in your basement. 

Did you end up with six checkmarks? If so, you've got yourself the perfect home for mould growth! (Probably not quite the achievement you were aiming for...)

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

Ever wonder why homeowners choose to use plant-based or all-natural cleaning products? Many traditional cleaners and disinfectants are sources of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are dangerous gases that can cause both short and long-term negative health effects.

Varying Health Effects Of VOCs:

  • Headaches 
  • Allergies 
  • Nausea 
  • Fatigue 
  • Dizziness 

These gases are also released by organic chemicals, including those found in: 

  • Cleaners
  • Solvents
  • Paints
  • Varnishes
  • Fuel
  • Air fresheners etc. 

Even craft glue, permanent markers and building materials emit these gases!

Why are VOCs likely found in basements? 

First of all, basements typically have very poor airflow. So VOCs have little opportunity to exit your home.

Secondly, homeowners tend to store many old and unused items away in deep closets in their basements - out of sight and mind! But these half-empty paint cans, leftover crafting supplies and extra cleaning products can release VOCs whether in use or not. 

According to the EPA, some levels of VOCs are roughly 2-5 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. And it doesn’t matter whether you live in a rural community or a suburban one, like Hamilton, Ontario. 

P.S. VOCs can also release a strong and unpleasant odour - contributing to an unpleasant basement smell. 

High Humidity

Do the carpet, couch, blankets or pillows in your basement feel damp? This is usually due to high humidity, or moisture, in your indoor air. 

How Does High Humidity Damage Your Home?

  • Mould Growth
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality 
  • Warped Wood 
  • Peeling Paint 
  • Stained Walls
  • Rotting Wood
  • Smelly Odours 

Besides these damages to your home, there’s your health to think about too! If you have allergies to dust mites, fungi, mould or bacteria, then high humidity is definitely your enemy. It can cause these allergens to grow and multiply in your home!

There are many other factors to consider when exploring the culprits of poor basement air quality. But for the sake of this article, we’ll keep the list short. And now that you know the top 3 concerns, you can start thinking about a solution!

 

The Best Air Purifier For Your Basement

If you’re like us, hearing about all the potential growth and stench lurking in your living space probably makes you shiver with disgust.

But thankfully, the right air purifier can help reduce these poor air quality culprits - giving you safe, clean air once again!

So, what is the best air purifier for your basement? 

Although many successful air purifiers exist, just any air purifier won't do. It needs to be powerful enough to deal with biological pollutants, odours, mould and germs!

That's why we recommend choosing a basement air purifier with these three specific components: 

  1. A HEPA filter,
  2. Carbon filter and
  3. UV light technology. 

Here’s why!

HEPA Filter

A True HEPA filter is one of the most powerful pieces of home air quality equipment. It can remove 99.97% of air pollution - including mould, dust and pollen at a size of 0.3 microns!

But this type of filter cannot remove gasses and odours. For that, you’ll need a carbon filter. 

Carbon Filter

A carbon filter is an incredible tool for basement air quality. It can remove gasses, odours and VOCs!

If you’re struggling with unpleasant odours in your home, this component of your air purifier is imperative. 

But while a carbon filter can remove both gasses and volatile organic compounds, it cannot kill germs. That’s the job of UV light technology!

UV Light Technology

Ultraviolet Light (UV) Technology has the power to kill both germs and mould. 

Instead of trapping them in a filter, this type of air purifier destroys these harmful particles - eliminating them from your air entirely!

An air purifier with all three of these components will be practically unstoppable in the battle against your poor basement air quality. 

 

Looking For Other  Ways To Help Improve Basement Air Quality?

  • Install a Whole House Ventilator.
  • Install a Whole House Humidifier. 
  • Drain eavestroughs away from the foundation of your home.
  • Dry out your basement.
  • Keep your downstairs windows closed.
  • Check for cracks and gaps In your walls, ceiling and window seals.

 

Take Advantage of Our Spring Cleaning Deals!

Start Saving Today!

Have you started your spring cleaning yet?

For the entire month of May, save 10% on our Air Duct Cleaning Services and get $100 OFF our Whole-House Indoor Air Quality Equipment installations!

*Offers to expire on May 31st, 2022.

*Cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.

 

Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton Is Your Basement Air Quality Expert!

At Shipton's CleanAir Solutions, we care about your health and the health of your home.  Want to learn more about improving your basement air quality? Give us a call! 

You can reach our indoor air quality team at (905) 544-2470 or online!

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Are Houseplants Powerful Enough To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions discusses the indoor air quality benefits of indoor houseplants.

Are Houseplants Powerful Enough To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?

For years, science said select houseplants were powerful enough to improve indoor air quality. Even to support or even replace an air purifier. 

But is this a myth or fact?

To start, yes - houseplants are powerful. If you own them yourself, you have already seen some of the many benefits they can bring to your home - including natural beauty and life. 

At first, your houseplant collection may have begun with the intent to liven your living space up a bit. You may have had one or two pots in your home in total. Then, after reading a few articles, you learned that plants actually have air-purifying capabilities and your collection quickly grew!

As did that of many homeowners around the globe. 

Homeowners latched on to the idea that plants were a “green” solution to improving indoor air quality (IAQ). And because plants were so economical, they chose to use them in place of an actual air purifier. 

Now, scientifically, everyone was on the right track here. After all - plants do have incredible air-purifying qualities.

But the question we’re asking here is not whether plants have these air-purifying qualities. It’s whether these qualities are strong enough to actually improve the IAQ in your home effectively.

Is the small plant shelf in your home office enough to negate an air purifier or whole-house ventilator? Find out below!

 

A Brief History of Our Beloved Houseplants and Their Air Purifying Powers

Houseplants have been around for years - dating as far back as the early Greeks.

Over the years, they became decor, medication and food. But as science evolved, it became clear that houseplants were capable of so much more. 

In 1989, a study by NASA showed houseplants as a natural solution to reducing indoor air pollutants. 

Here’s how it went...

During this study, researchers placed a series of potted plants in small chambers with VOC (volatile organic compound) concentrations. 

Over the course of a few hours and/or days, the VOC concentrations in select chambers significantly decreased. This discovery led scientists to conclude that these specific plants had air-purifying capabilities. 

And so the world was off to purifying their indoor air quality with plants galore!

But then, as time went on, a new perspective came to light.

Although the science of the conclusion was correct - select plants can remove VOCs from surrounding air - the scale of the study came into question.

How would the results of the study change between the use of a sealed container and a dynamic home environment? Would these plants be powerful enough to remove toxins from a much larger, constantly-changing space?

According to Professor Michael Waring in his 2019 study, the unfortunate answer is no. 

In his words, "This has been a common misconception for some time. Plants are great, but they don't actually clean indoor air quickly enough to have an effect on the air quality of your home or office environment.”

In Waring’s studies, he found that ventilation was a far more successful way to remove pollutants from the air than plants were. Whether through a natural form of ventilation, like opening a window, or a whole-house ventilator system, both are far more successful at flushing out unwelcome toxins. 

In fact, according to Waring’s studies, you would need to have 10-1,000 plants per square meter of floor space in your home to compete with these forms of home ventilation. 

So the answer to our question? No - unless you actually do have 1,000 air purifying plants per every square meter of your home, they are not effective in improving your indoor air quality. And they cannot replace your air purifier or whole-house ventilator. 

But they do have many other positive benefits…

 

Other Positive Health Benefits of Houseplants In Your Home

Now, we are by no means telling you that you should throw out your houseplants. 

Although indoor gardening may not be powerful enough to combat poor indoor air quality, they do have many other incredible health benefits! 

1. Indoor Plants Can Brighten Your Mood.

Indoor plants are a great way to brighten your home and mood

Besides the obvious factor of plants adding unique beauty and life to your home decor, they can also help relieve physiological and psychological stress

You see examples of this all the time!

> When a friend brings flowers to their sick friend. 

> When you’re given flowers after the passing of a loved one. 

> When a husband gives a wife flowers as an act of love. 

Even the flowers you’re handing your mom for Mother’s Day this weekend are an example!

Individuals give these plants hoping that they will brighten their loved one's day - making them feel seen, loved and special.

And, in more cases than not, they succeed!

2. Indoor Plants Can Improve Mental and Emotional Health.

Did you know that caring for indoor plants can help improve your mental and emotional health

The process of nurturing a plant can be incredibly therapeutic. It can help reduce anxiety, ease depression, heal from trauma and de-stress.

This form of therapy is often called horticultural therapy. 

Fun Fact: As young individuals interact with indoor plants, their autonomic nervous system (their body’s physical response to stress) relaxes.

3. Indoor Plants Can Improve Concentration and Productivity.

Working at a computer all day long can often cause brain fog and fatigue. But a few office friends like spider plants, peace lilies and dracaenas can help improve your concentration and productivity.

Studies have shown that indoor plants can help boost: 

  • Creative Thinking 
  • Spatial Processing
  • Concentration 
  • Productivity 
  • Memory

So the next time you’re feeling distracted, tired or unmotivated at your desk, take a trip to your local greenhouse! You might be surprised at how good you feel even after just walking through the isles of plants and appreciating the beauty and serenity of nature. 

 

Take Advantage of Our Spring Indoor Air Quality Savings Event!

If you’re feeling tired, sick or even dizzy these past few months, your IAQ could be the culprit. And while we wouldn’t recommend buying a whole host of houseplants to fix the issue, there is another solution we'd suggest. 

Like taking advantage of our spring indoor air quality savings event this May!

Save 10% on our Air Duct Cleaning Services and get $100 OFF our Whole-House Indoor Air Quality Equipment installations. 

That includes the air purifier equipment and whole-house ventilator that we mentioned above!

*Offers to expire on May 31st, 2022.

*Cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.

 

Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions is Hamilton’s Indoor Air Quality Expert!

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions is always here to offer the best IAQ advice, products and services. Contact our team today for effective and affordable indoor air quality solutions that work for your home and/or office!

Give us a call at 1-905-544-2470 or visit us online to ask a question, request a free quote or schedule a service with our team.

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Pollen Problems? Battle Spring Allergies with Better Indoor Air Quality

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions offers indoor air quality tips for homeowners who are struggling with spring allergies.

Pollen Problems? Battle Spring Allergies with Better Indoor Air Quality

Spring here in the far north can be a beautiful time of year. Warming temperatures, new green, nesting birds, and more sunlight are all welcome changes from our long cold winters.

But for many Canadians, spring simply means one thing....pollen, and lots of it. It is hard to enjoy the signs of spring when your eyes are watering, your nose is running and your head is pounding.

What can you do to find relief? Read on!

 

Climate Change Means Pollen Season Is Just Going to Get Worse

The truth is, pollen is already the most common allergen nationwide. And according to climatologists, as climate change continues, it is just going to get worse.

Pollen season is now projected to start 40 days earlier than it has in years past. And the annual pollen count? It is likely to increase by as much as 250 per cent!

Here in Canada, we have three major pollen seasons:

  • Tree pollen season happens from mid-April to late May.
  • Weed and grass pollen season happens from late May to mid-July.
  • Ragweed pollen season happens from mid-August through October.

That is seven months out of 12 with anticipated pollen counts high enough to cause moderate to severe allergy symptoms. And we haven't even talked about airborne mould and mildew, bacteria, fungi, microbes and VOCs that can also cause health symptoms.

So let's talk about what you can do to minimize allergies and asthma attacks for your family.

 

Battling Pollen With Better Indoor Air Quality

The challenge with battling pollen is that it easily infiltrates the average indoor space. Pollen can come in on your hair, clothes, skin and shoes. It comes in with your pets. It even floats in through open doors and windows.

Pollen can make its way inside through small cracks in your home or business structure - through the same places where micro-air leaks drive up energy bills.

This means battling pollen requires a multi-level approach. Some of this you can control simply with changes in daily habits. Other aspects require making use of technology that can accomplish what you can't on your own.

 

What You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Indoor Air

Right now, today, you can start cleaning up your indoor air quality - even with some simple shifts in your daily habits.

1. Change clothes and take a shower when you come home.

The pollen you bring indoors with you will readily join your indoor air ecosystem...unless you keep it out.

This starts the moment you come home - before you head indoors.

Take your shoes off outside. Remove your clothing and leave it in the washroom area. Take a shower and wash your hair.

This ensures you are not adding fresh pollen to your indoor ecosystem and also removes pollen irritants clinging to your skin, clothes and hair that could easily enter your airways and cause allergy symptoms.

2. Keep windows and doors closed.

When spring arrives, it feels so tempting to throw open windows and doors to air out the house. But this is not a recipe for success when your family includes those who suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma.

3. Reconsider household cleaning and personal care products.

While pollen allergies are in a different category than allergies to other environmental toxins, one can definitely exacerbate the other.

When you make a switch to non-toxic cleaning products and essential oils, you bolster your immune system to fight off pollen allergies more effectively.

4. Add Air Filtration and Ventilation

Air filtration and ventilation are a power duo for fighting seasonal allergies.

Modern air filtration makes use of several cutting-edge technologies to remove even the tiniest micro-particulates - solids, gases and liquids - from your indoor air.

A HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filtration) can easily be retrofitted to work with any ducted HVAC system. And the standalone portable filtration units can work just as well for non-ducted systems.

NOTE: Do not try to add a HEPA filter to a standard residential HVAC system. This may cause furnace or air conditioning failure and/or a home fire!

Since ventilating naturally with open windows or doors is not an option for allergy sufferers, the next best thing is a heat recovery ventilator (HRV system). These amazing energy-efficient systems are now required for all new Toronto-area construction.

5. Schedule Our Professional Air Duct Cleaning Services Annually 

How does duct cleaning work?

Indoor air duct cleaning technology is a relatively new entrant to the air quality industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends considering professional air duct cleaning services in the following situations:

  • When you have had a significant dust-producing home renovation.
  • When there is evidence of mould or mildew.
  • When you see airborne dust or contaminants.
  • When someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma.

The high-definition robotic micro-cameras are what we use to allow you and your service technician to see right into your air ducts to determine how much debris, dust or mould is present. From there, you can make the decision about when to schedule your indoor air duct cleaning services.

Many of our indoor air quality clients who have not found relief through other means discover their allergy and asthma symptoms improving after having their air ducts cleaned.

Some tell us their indoor air is so clean they can actually smell the difference!

 

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Is An Industry Leader in Indoor Air Quality

We are proud to have nearly a century of serving the HVAC and indoor air quality needs of our Hamilton Ontario area customers.

Battling spring allergies? Our knowledgeable indoor air quality experts can guide you to the right services and products to help you feel better fast.

Give us a call at 905-544-2470, visit our Hamilton Ontario showroom or head over to our website to learn more!

P.S. Don't forget to reserve your special spring deal - 10% off any indoor air duct cleaning and $50 off any whole house humidifier installation.

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Can You Use Essential Oils as an Air Purifier to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, discusses the use of essential oils as an air purifier to improve indoor air quality.

Can You Use Essential Oils as an Air Purifier to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Essential oils for indoor air quality are becoming more and more popular. It is hard to go anywhere today without finding all kinds of air freshener and air purifier products with labels like "essential oil-based" and "all-natural."

But does that mean essential oils are safe to use in your indoor air? And if essential oils are safe for adults to breathe, what about your kids or your pets?

The most accurate answer is "it depends." It depends on which essential oils you choose, how many essential oils you use and how sensitive each family member may be (including humans and pets).

Learn what the science says about the safest way to use essential oils. And whether it can be used as an air purifier to improve indoor air quality.

 

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are concentrated naturally-occurring chemical compounds extracted from a plant. Depending on the plant species, these oils may be found in the bark, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits and/or roots.

There are also different ways to extract and preserve these natural chemicals. Popular methods include mechanical pressing (expression or maceration), water distillation, enfleurage and steam distillation.

As you might imagine, essential oils are extremely concentrated! And the essential oil is just one part of the whole plant, which means it may have a different effect than using the same plant in other ways.

 

Aromatherapy for Air Quality and Health

The use of essential oils for health and wellness benefits is typically called aromatherapy. This implies that the best way to get the benefits is by direct inhalation.

But, as you know, essential oils are very strong. And they do not always smell great! This makes direct inhalation a last resort for many practitioners, especially when working with sensitive individuals such as kids, the elderly and pets.

Luckily, there are many ways to activate essential oils when using them to,

  • Improve your indoor air quality,
  • Strengthen your immune system,
  • And promote physical, mental and emotional benefits. 

The most popular way to diffuse essential oils? Diffusion - direct dispersal into the ambient air. It’s by far the safest way to use essential oils! It’s also the most economical and most pleasant way to improve your indoor air quality with essential oils.

 

How to Diffuse Essential Oils Into the Air Safely

Safe use of essential oils is a very individual process. You won't know how you or your child or your pet may respond to a certain essential oil until you test it out.

Here are the steps to take to diffuse essential oils into your indoor air safely.

1. Read the ingredients.

The first thing to do is read the ingredients list! Sadly, this is necessary because some companies may include essential oils alongside other chemical fragrances or potentially toxic contaminants, preservatives or other ingredients.

Be sure the essential oil product you choose is pure and from a reputable manufacturer.

2. Dilute, dilute, dilute.

Not all essential oils are safe to use directly. Even among those that are, they can be too strong for some people. Dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil or in pure distilled water.

3. Do a sniff test first.

For pets, a very effective way to test if the essential oil may be well tolerated is to present the bottle with the cap ON and allow your pet to just sniff and explore it. Their body language will tell you if it is likely to be well tolerated.

For kids, a safe equivalent is to do a small patch test on your own skin and see how you react.

4. Ensure excellent air circulation and ventilation in the room.

Another important way to test a new essential oil for indoor air quality is to do so in a room with good air circulation and excellent ventilation.

5. Diffuse essential oils for short periods only.

Essential oils can be potent and effective at levels where you can't even really smell them. So best practices indicate diffusing for only 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

6. Always ask your doctor first.

It is vital to talk with your doctor or your child's paediatrician before introducing any essential oils into your indoor air.

 

Which Essential Oils Can Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Research about the use of essential oils for indoor air quality is ongoing. But it is evident that essential oils do have strong air purification properties. This means that, yes, it is possible for essential oils to be used as a type of air purifier in your home. 

Here is a list of essential oils that have performed well against airborne toxins in research studies to date:

  • Garlic
  • Pine
  • Clove
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Anise
  • Thyme
  • Peppermint
  • Wintergreen
  • Spearmint
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Citronella
  • Allspice
  • Myrrh
  • May Chang
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • Lemongrass
  • Amyris
  • Oregano
  • Geranium
  • Cedarwood
  • Sweet orange
  • Clary sage

This is not an exhaustive list and there is much more research to be done. But the important thing to remember is that many essential oils (such as the ones listed here) have a number of properties that can be very beneficial for indoor air quality!

For example, the lemon essential oil is an antiseptic. Oregano has natural antibiotic properties. Lavender essential oil is a natural antibacterial. And clary sage is a natural antifungal!

 

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Delivers Trusted Indoor Air Quality Improvements

Improving indoor air quality is such a popular topic now that it can be achieved using so many different products. But it is important to note that not all products actually improve your indoor air quality. Some can make it worse!

That’s why we always recommend that you do your research well before introducing a new indoor air quality product in your home. And that goes for the essential oils too!

Although they do have many beneficial air cleansing properties, you need to ensure that your family can tolerate them before putting them into use. 

Here at Shipton's CleanAir Solutions, we have nearly 100 years of expertise in the HVAC and air quality industries. Our friendly, knowledgeable air quality experts work with you to improve your indoor air quality safely and affordably.

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 and let us know what questions you have and how we can help. And be sure to check out our money-saving spring specials!

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6 Types of Air Filters and How to Choose the Right One

CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, discusses the 6 best air filters for homes and workplaces.

6 Types of Air Filters and How to Choose the Right One

Do you remember back in the day when you said "air filter" and everyone knew what you meant?

Then the pandemic happened.

Suddenly it feels like you need an encyclopedia and a dictionary just to pick an air filter!

Now we all want air filtration in our homes and at work. But we are all confused about which air filtration system to choose.

In this post, meet the six main types of air filters, learn what each one does and choose the right air filter for you.

 

What Is Air Filtration?

The place to start when talking about air filtration is always with a universal working definition.

What IS "air filtration," exactly?

Air filtration is the process of removing airborne solid PMs (particulate matter) from the air we breathe.

What Airborne Particles Should You Be Worried About?

Particulate matter is a major culprit for,

  • Eye and nose irritation
  • Skin issues
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lung disease and more!

There are five main types of airborne solid particulate matter that most of us worry about when it comes to respiratory health and air quality.

1. Chemical

The most common chemical particulate culprits come from the pesticide, herbicide and insecticide industries or the bulk chemical industries.

2. Mineral

Mineral solid particles may be generated by work sites or naturally through weather events and even natural erosion.

Crystalline silicate is one of the most common metallic particulates. Coal and cement are also common examples of particulate minerals.

3. Metallic

Metallic particulates can include nickel, cadmium, beryllium, lead and other potentially toxic airborne solids.

4. Organic

Organic solids can include:

  • Dust
  • Dust mites
  • Human hair
  • Skin flakes
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen
  • Flour
  • Tea and coffee
  • Wood
  • Dirt
  • Ash
  • Smoke

5. Biohazard

The biohazard category of solid airborne particles almost needs no explanation. And yet the virus that causes COVID-19 is not solid. It is a liquid.

Here, the biohazard solids we are concerned about include bacteria, mould, fungi microbes etc. Essentially any tiny, solid particle capable of carrying a liquid or gaseous passenger, such as a CoV-SARS-2 droplet.

 

Micron Rating for Air Filters

What is a micron? 

A unit of measurement.

Microns (sometimes also referred to as nanometers, which is a similar unit of measurement) become quite important when we are talking about air filter performance or air filtration system performance.

For example, how big (or small) is the virus that causes COVID-19? The overall droplet size ranges between 0.06 microns and 0.3 microns. The average droplet size is between 0.1 microns and 0.125 microns.

You may have heard that N95 masks filter out particles as small as 0.3 microns, which is larger than the sizes we just discussed. So how can N95 masks be effective at protecting against the airborne transmission of COVID-19?

It is because the droplet itself has to ride on a solid particulate to get from an infected person to a new host. This is what brings the average size up to around 0.3 microns and makes N95 masks an effective protective agent.

Keep these numbers in mind as we move into an overview of the six major air filter types so you can choose the type that best fits your needs.

 

Learn About 6 Major Types of Air Filters

Every day it seems like there is a new air filter or air filtration system on the market.

But underneath the hype, most of these systems and products will still find a home in one of these six major categories of air filters.

1. Pleated air filter

Pleated air filters, or pleated furnace filters, are made from cotton or polyester are a very common filter type used by most residential and commercial furnace systems. Typically pleated filters carry a MERV rating of between 5 and 13.

Pleated furnace filters are good at catching larger solid particulates.

Their main job is to keep these larger particles out of the inside of the furnace, where they could over time build up on the blower motor and fan blades, lowering efficiency and becoming a fire hazard.

2. Glass air filter

Glass air filters are arguably the most common furnace filters in use today.

Glass air furnace filters use fibreglass instead of pleats to do the same basic job, more affordably although somewhat less efficiently.

3. Media air filter

Media air filters are like amped-up pleated air filters. By increasing overall surface area, media filters can trap airborne particles inside the filter and trap more of them before needing to be replaced.

4. Electrostatic air filter

As the name suggests, electrostatic filters use static electricity as a magnet of sorts to attract and trap airborne solids. Both disposable and reusable types exist.

The downside is that electrostatic air filters do a better job of trapping very small particulates than they do of trapping larger common airborne irritants such as dust and ash.

5. HEPA filter 

What is a HEPA filter? 

The HEPA filter was first developed during World War II. Today's HEPA air filters stay true to the original technology and it still works just as well.

MERV 17 or higher filters have the same capacity as a HEPA filter for capturing solid particles sized 0.3 to 1 micron to a 99.97 percent efficiency.

6. Ultraviolet light air filters

UV light filters use a synthetic band of UV-C light to purify the air. This is often termed "germicidal radiation."

While UV light air filters are great for purifying the air of liquids and gases, they don't do as effective a job on solids.
 

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Is Your Hamilton Ontario Indoor Air Quality Expert

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions is proud to serve as an air quality leader, providing our residential and commercial customers with effective and affordable indoor air quality solutions.

Give us a call at 1-905-544-2470 or visit us online to ask a question, request a quote or schedule service.

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Is Your Indoor Air Making You Sick? Feel Better Fast With These Two Simple Steps

CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, discusses the importance of indoor air ventilation and humidification this spring.

Is Your Indoor Air Making You Sick? Feel Better Fast With These Two Simple Steps

Ever since news of the pandemic first leaked out, we have all breathed a little less comfortably...a little less deeply.

Why? Because the thought that the very air we are breathing could make us sick at any moment is really scary!

But the bright spot in what has now become a multi-year battle against COVID-19 is how much we have learned. We are beginning to arm ourselves against the invader. We are learning how to purify and clean our indoor air to no longer be a threat.

This week's blog post discusses two key components of our new indoor air purity protection strategy: humidity and ventilation.

 

Humidity Balance For Optimal Indoor Air Protection

One of the major players in our defensive strategy against airborne threats such as flu, COVID-19 and even the common cold is humidity.

We have learned that what we need is more humidity and not less.

Health officials tell us that humid air helps our body produce more protective mucous to protect airborne viral and microbial threats by trapping them before they can get into our lungs.

And COVID-19 researchers state that active airborne viral droplets die-off twice as fast when relative indoor air humidity is between 40 and 60 percent.

Fantastic.

But how can you make sure that the humidity levels inside your home remain within this range consistently?

Consistent Humidity Is Easy With a Whole House Humidifier

The best way to keep your indoor humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent is to use a whole house humidifier.

A modern whole house humidifier is a sophisticated appliance that delivers humidity silently and evenly throughout your space.

But this high level of indoor humidity can come with its own set of challenges, including damage to home furnishings and the threat of mould and mildew.

So how can you safely increase your home's indoor air humidity without harm? Read on!

Safely Humidify Your Home With a Heat Recovery Ventilator

Ventilation and circulation are two words that are commonly mixed up. The two are complementary but not the same.

Air circulation refers to the movement of air throughout a space.

Ventilation refers to the influx of fresh air into a space and the corresponding outflow of stale air.

Ventilation can improve indoor air circulation for the air that is already inside a space.

Improved air circulation is commonly accomplished using ceiling or floor fans, open windows or doors, and even running the fan on your HVAC system (although this is not recommended for energy cost reasons).

But air circulation alone cannot address the need for a continual supply of fresh indoor air to move stale air and airborne toxins out.

This is why the key to safely increasing the humidity inside your home or workplace isn't as simple as air circulation to keep mould and mildew at bay.

What you need to safely humidify your indoor air is improved ventilation. The best way to accomplish this is to use a heat recovery ventilator. As a side benefit, a good ventilation system will also boost air circulation throughout your space.

 

How Ventilation and Humidification Work Together

Humidifiers on their own are a great asset. So are heat recovery ventilators for improved air circulation and replenishment of the fresh air supply in any space.

But as you now know, when you are trying to achieve a certain consistent indoor air humidity level safely, you really need to pair humidification with ventilation.

Together, these two make great indoor air quality partners.

With a whole house humidifier system, you can regulate the relative humidity levels in your indoor air to stay between 40 and 60 percent depending on your individual health needs and concerns.

Modern humidification systems can also keep your indoor environment stable and healthy no matter what the seasonal weather conditions may be like outside.

And with proper ventilation, you can make sure the humidity does not concentrate in certain areas, such as closets, bathrooms, laundry rooms or basements, which can lead to mould and mildew problems.

 

How to Add Humidification and Ventilation to Your Home

At this point you are probably wondering what is required to add a whole house humidifier and heat recovery ventilator to your home's indoor air quality toolkit.

If you have a central (ducted) HVAC system, we can simply add a whole house humidifier and a heat recovery ventilator that will work seamlessly together with your existing system.

Depending on your needs, you can choose a flow through humidifier that works with your furnace or a steam humidifier that works independently of your temperature control system.

Heat recovery ventilation options are very similar. Ducted HVAC systems can be easily retrofitted with an extra set of ducts and vents to work with a heat recovery ventilator.

If your home runs on ductless A/C and heat, the newest heat recovery ventilators do not require air ducts to ventilate each room in your space.

This compact HRV system takes up very little space and operates silently as the lungs of each room - keeping your indoor air fresh, clean and humidity balanced throughout the year.

 

Trust Shipton's CleanAir Solutions for All Your Ventilation and Air Quality Needs

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions is proud to be of service to our residential and commercial customers in Hamilton and surrounding areas for nearly a century now.

Indoor air quality needs are changing based on new airtight construction standards, new HVAC technology and the ongoing global pandemic. We know you are concerned and we want you to know we are here to help keep your family safe and healthy now and in the future.

Give us a call at 1-905-544-2470 or visit us online to ask a question, request a quote or schedule service.

SPRING PROMOTION: Save $50 on any whole house humidifier installation plus take 10 percent off any of our popular air duct cleaning services. Click here to claim your savings!

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