Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog
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?
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:
- Weed control
Pool Maintenance Products
- Cyanuric acid
Home Maintenance Products
Vehicle Maintenance Products
- Motor oil
- Vehicle cleaners
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.
- Lawn Mowers
- Weed Whackers
- Snow Blowers
- Chain Saws
- Portable Generators
- Gas Lanterns
- Portable Stoves
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:
5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Garage Air Quality
Can you reduce the risk of poor garage air quality?
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:
- 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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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
- 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 mites
- Airborne particles (with a size of 0.3 microns)
- Pet dander
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.