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How Does Infected Air Travel? How Can We Stop It?

Clean Air Solutions Hamilton - Air Ventilation Tips During COVID-19

How Does Infected Air Travel? How Can We Stop It?

As the weeks and months slowly pass, scientists and researchers are steadily learning more about all the possible ways that the new novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, may be able to spread.

It nearly goes without saying that not everyone in the scientific and public health education communities is in agreement about these new findings; however, there is sufficient consensus to begin channeling research funding towards improving building HVAC systems and indoor air quality.

In fact, researchers right here in Canada just received $444,000 in research funding to identify specific HVAC system improvements in order to reduce airborne virus transmission.

This is both scary and promising!

Indoor air quality experts at the University of Toronto have also identified four key ways that aerosol SARS-CoV-2 particles could travel through the air from an infected person and infect someone else.

In this post, we bring you up to date on these new airflow patterns and share four ways you can take action to protect yourself and your family.

 

Four Ways Infected Air Can Use Ventilation Systems to Travel

CTV News recently shared the findings of a University of Toronto indoor air quality expert and researcher named Jeffrey Siegel, PhD.

As Dr. Siegel explained, if infectious aerosol droplets were to become airborne, they could potentially use four different airflow pathways to infect new people.

Four Airflow Pathways For COVID-19 Particles

1. Ventilation flowing into public or shared spaces.

When ventilation sends air into public areas such as hallways, corridors, elevators, lobbies, restrooms, laundry rooms, workout rooms and other similar multi-use spaces, this air can then flow out and continue its journey, carrying infectious aerosol airborne particles with it.

2. Ventilation between two open adjacent windows.

This can be especially relevant in more dense urban areas where dwellings or work spaces can be so close together that opening one window may cause airflow to travel between two different dwellings or buildings.

3. Ventilation from plumbing pipes, registers/vents and exhausts.

More than one case of COVID-19 transmission has occurred in China due to airborne aerosol transmission involving sewage, plumbing pipes and exhaust fans.

Because the new novel coronavirus can also remain bioactive in human waste, it can be transmitted if there is any leaking or seepage from toilets or plumbing pipes. Use of contactless air dryers and exhaust vents can blow the droplets into the air, where you may unknowingly come into contact with them.

4. Ventilation from a shared HVAC system.

Any space that uses a shared ventilation system, such as a central (ducted) HVAC system, may act as a conduit for infectious aerosol droplets containing COVID-19 to travel from an infected person to reach new people.

While these four pathways are especially concerning in multi-unit spaces such as office buildings, condominiums and apartment complexes, they can be relevant in single family dwellings also, especially if one family member is immune-compromised or recovering from COVID-19.

 

Four Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself from Infectious Air

While many public agencies worldwide are still hesitant to come right out and state that COVID-19 can be transmitted by aerosol airborne microparticles, most research scientists are more outspoken.

In one recent Nature journal article, an Australian researcher came right out and stated that the scientific community looks at the question of COVID-19 spreading through the air as a “no brainer.”

That being said, we feel it makes sense to share information right away about practical ways to protect yourself, your workers and your family from ventilation-related COVID-19 risks.

More caution rather than less seems to be the order of the day right now, and it just seems smart for each of us to do whatever we can do to stay healthy and safe.

So here are four steps you can take now to protect yourself from the possibility of contracting COVID-19 through airborne transmission in ventilation systems.

How To Protect Yourself From Infectious Air

1. Increase indoor air ventilation using fresh air sources.

Indoor air quality researchers continue to emphasize the importance of increased indoor ventilation, or more fresh air flowing through your indoor space.

Now, researchers are emphasizing fresh air and not recirculated air. If your HVAC has the option, make sure it is set to “fresh air”.

A heat recovery ventilator or HRV is the gold standard in providing continuous fresh air circulation inside any space. The HRV works with any central (ducted) HVAC system to pull in fresh air that can dilute airborne infectious particles and push them out with the stale indoor air.

2. Use portable or central HEPA filtration to remove airborne microparticles.

Researchers have posted several ways that coronavirus particles might become airborne in order to travel longer distances using airflow (ventilation) systems. One way is by attaching to airborne solid microparticles. If a small aerosol droplet can attach to a microparticle solid, it can go wherever that solid particle goes - including into your lungs.

HEPA filtration is still the gold standard for high-density air filtration today.

3. Add ultraviolet purification near any air source.

Short-wave ultraviolet band-C light can potentially neutralize even very small coronavirus particles – if it can reach them.

Central UV purifiers can irradiate your HVAC coils as air passes over them, while portable purifiers can purify the circulating air in smaller or non-ducted spaces.

4. Keep wearing your mask, washing your hands and social distancing.

One of the deadliest aspects of COVID-19 is how it can jump from an asymptomatic infected person to someone new.

Because there are so many people walking around who don’t even know they have COVID-19, this is not the time to reduce your regular personal protective routines.

 

Get in Touch

Clean Air Solutions in Hamilton is dedicated to ensuring the cleanliness of your indoor air. We are open and serving you safely with contactless options.

For our customers who want to schedule an indoor air duct cleaning, we are currently offering a 10 percent discount across the board for any of our three packages!

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online.

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HVAC System Additions To Control The Risk of COVID-19

Clean Air Solutions Hamilton provides HVAC Additions and Maintenance To Control The Risk of COVID-19.

HVAC System Additions To Control The Risk of COVID-19

After several months of research and several weeks of debate, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recently released two official position statements regarding COVID-19 and ventilation.

Both position statements give the Canadian public a much clearer picture of how the new novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, may be transmitted via ventilation systems and also what may help to reduce the risk of such transmission.

Learning that COVID-19 can spread through HVAC systems such as air conditioning and heating units is scary to hear.

There is, however, a bright spot in this dark news - rarely do we get a risk assessment that comes already accompanied with recommendations for remedies. In this case, modern indoor air quality technology has already advanced to the point where we can do a lot in order to reduce the risk of spreading or catching COVID-19.

In this post, we will learn how cutting edge indoor air quality helps reduce your risk of encountering infectious airborne coronavirus droplets.

 

Understanding ASHRAE's New Position Statements

In early April, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pre-published a research study confirming that the first cases of COVID-19 were induced by airborne transmission (you can learn more about this research study in our previous blog post here).

While terrifying, it is important to remember that knowledge is power. We can't fight what we don't understand. The more we know about how coronavirus spreads, the more protections we can put into place to stop it from spreading.

The ASHRAE position statement is based on not just this CDC study, but several other research studies that have looked at the previous SARS outbreak of 2003 and other similar outbreaks.

 

What We Have Learned From ASHRAE's COVID-19 Research Study:

  • Making changes to heating, air conditioning and ventilation can reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 airborne transmission.
  • Specifically, strategic ventilation and filtration changes can reduce the threat of airborne exposure.
  • Disabling any component of a working HVAC system is unwise and can lead to thermal stress that impairs immune system response and COVID-19 resistance.

 

What Ventilation and Air Filtration Changes Should You Be Making?

The next natural question many of our customers have had is, of course, what changes to HVAC ventilation and air filtration should be made to reduce the risk of encountering infectious SARS-CoV-2 droplets?

In answering this question, we are lucky to have decades of research to draw from in order to identify the best and most appropriate tools to use.

 

Install a Heat Recovery Ventilator

If you are not yet familiar with the heat recovery ventilator, these devices are now required for all new building construction within the greater Toronto area. If you live in Hamilton, Canada, as well as the surrounding areas, this would include you! Contact Clean Air Solutions to install a Heat Recovery Ventilator today!

Heat recovery ventilators eliminate concerns about new airtight building construction standards that prevent structures, whether homes or workplaces, from "breathing" naturally.

As the ASHRAE statements explain, when a building cannot breathe, the concentration of infectious droplets can quickly build up within a space.

Ventilation, done poorly, can create conditions ripe for the new novel coronavirus to spread, but when ventilation is managed well, it can become an essential aid to reducing the risk of infection.

Heat recovery ventilators easily retrofit to work with any existing central ducted HVAC system, steadily removing stale and toxic air while ensuring a continual supply of fresh oxygenated air.

As a side perk, HRV systems, as they are commonly called, also help reduce your energy costs by recycling energy that would otherwise be wasted.

 

Add a HEPA Air Filtration System

HEPA is an acronym that stands for "High Efficiency Particulate Air." The HEPA filter was first developed during the second World War. The first HEPA filters were actually masks!

These masks had dense multi-layer filters that kept scientists working on the atomic bomb from breathing in stray radioactive particles.

Today, even with all the innovation we have seen over the last several decades, HEPA filters remain the gold standard in air filtration.

HEPA filters work to remove solid particles as small as 1/100th the size of a single hair on your head.

This is important because lighter SARS-CoV-2 airborne droplets can cling to tiny solids and enter ventilation systems to travel longer distances.

When a HEPA filter traps these tiny solids, it traps the infectious droplets attached to them.

Several types of HEPA filtration systems are available for use in both central ducted spaces and non-ducted spaces.

 

Purify Your Air with Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet light is getting its day in the sun (so to speak) for its powerful impact on airborne liquids or gases, including infectious SARS-CoV-2 droplets.

UV-C light is sufficiently powerful to damage the protective membrane that surrounds each coronavirus droplet. When this membrane gets damaged, the RNA contained within cannot replicate to infect more people.

There are several ways to use UV-C air purifiers to purify the air for both central ducted HVAC systems and non-ducted spaces.

 

Have Your HVAC Air Duct System Professionally Cleaned

An indoor air duct cleaning is like hitting the "reset" button on your indoor air quality. 

This type of deep professional-grade cleaning goes into your air ducts and removes all trapped toxins, whether solid (particulate), liquid or gaseous.

The service cleans out the ducts using a powerful negative pressure vacuum and then follows that up with a deodorizing and sanitizing treatment.

If anyone in your family is in the high-risk category for vulnerability to COVID-19, having a professional indoor air duct cleaning offers an extra layer of protection.

When the indoor air you are breathing is cleaner, your immune system doesn’t have to work so hard to combat other airborne threats that could inadvertently lower your resistance to COVID-19.

If you are looking for indoor air duct cleaning in Hamilton, Ontario or the surrounding areas (including Brantford, Burlington, Oakville etc.), contact us at Clean Air Solutions in Hamilton today!
 

Contact Clean Air Solutions Hamilton

We remain open to serve you safely with multiple contact-less options during this difficult time.

Right now and through June 30, 2020, get a 10 percent discount off of any of our three popular indoor air duct cleaning packages.

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online to ensure that your air ducts are clean and ready to protect you from harmful airborne viruses. 

 

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Questions and Answers About Indoor Air Quality and COVID-19

You Asked & We Answer: Questions About Indoor Air Quality and COVID-19

Indoor air quality has been an essential service right from the start of our quarantine process, due to the new novel coronavirus.

As more researchers begin to contribute research data concerning the link between indoor air quality and coronavirus cases, Clean Air Solutions is learning new valuable information to pass along to our customers every single day.

Many of you have been contacting us by phone or email to ask about hot topics like air duct cleaning, indoor air ventilation, humidifiers, ultraviolet air purifiers and HEPA filters.

In this post, we answer the top questions we have been receiving about using these types of indoor air quality aids to prevent COVID-19.
 

Can Indoor Air Ventilation Systems Put You At Risk Of Catching Coronavirus?

On this topic, there is still new research coming in on a daily basis, however, the most compelling data we have comes not from this current outbreak, but from back in 2003 when the original SARS virus (SARS-CoV-1) outbreak occurred.

Researchers at the University of Toronto claim that wind (air flow from ventilation) is a critical factor in increasing what they call propagation, or the number of people the virus can reach.

Can Poor Air Quality and Air Pollution Make You Sicker Quicker?

We can credit the same research study for understanding the link between prior exposure to poor air quality and air pollution (whether outdoor or indoor) and vulnerability to COVID-19.

Research in 2003 only focused on people who had prior exposure to polluted air and the likelihood that they would contract coronavirus.

The data showed that people who had been breathing polluted air were more likely to catch SARS and get sicker when they did.

What Roles Do Heat and Humidity Play in Coronavirus Risk?

Many of our Clean Air Solutions customers call us with questions because they have been reading news or research papers on their own and have discovered information that causes worry.

We understand completely and are here to help!

One of the least well understood pieces of data right now is the link (if any) between the risk of coronavirus and the heat and/or humidity that comes with summer.

It’s important to note that the answer to this question can vary based on whether we are looking at heat versus humidity.

Is temperature (heat) linked to COVID-19 risk?

In the matter of whether increased temperature can reduce the risk of COVID-19, the latest data says “no.”

In an article published just last month in Science Daily, Canadian researchers studied 144 geographic areas around the world to look for links between temperature and latitude and the spread of COVID-19.

They didn’t find any.

This is particularly important to know if your summer plans include switching off your air conditioner to try to protect yourself from the new novel coronavirus. It won’t help and could actually harm you in other ways by increasing the risk of mould and mildew.

In fact, as we struggle with an unexpected heat wave here in Ontario, you may have even noticed that certain public facilities with air conditioning such as libraries and recreation centres have been reopened to help Ontarians cope with the heat.

Is humidity linked to COVID-19 risk?

In the same Canadian study, researchers did discover a slight link between increased humidity and decreased coronavirus transmission or spread.

So, increasing the humidity inside your home may, to some degree, give you more protection against coronavirus.

This is mostly because humidity keeps your respiratory passages moist in order to promote beneficial mucous that can trap coronavirus droplets and keep them from moving into your lungs.

This is the same reason why doctors often tell people with respiratory issues (ie. asthma, allergies etc.) to add more humidity to their indoor air in winter – it helps protect against cold and flu season, as well as seasonal allergies.

Will This Heat Wave Make Coronavirus Go Away?

Speaking of heat waves, there has been intense public debate among frontline healthcare workers and researchers about whether summer will reduce the risk of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the most recent data indicates that the answer to this question is “no.”

In fact, the extreme heat may create health issues that conflict with the order to wear masks when out in public. Experts say wearing a mask can make it more difficult for you to breathe.

Wearing masks in the heat can also increase sweat and dampness, which decreases the mask’s ability to filter the air you breathe in or out.

The guidance is now to wear masks when you are indoors but to remove them when you are walking about or exercising out of doors. This is especially vital for children and the elderly, as well as for any person who has any type of respiratory or breathing condition.

Can Ultraviolet Light Or a HEPA Filter Destroy Coronavirus?

Another question we get asked on a daily basis is about the connection between ultraviolet light or HEPA filtration and coronavirus.

Both UV light and HEPA filters are standard today in hospitals and laboratories, but can they actually keep you from getting COVID-19?

UV Light and Coronavirus

If someone sneezes right on you or you touch a surface that contains active coronavirus particles, UV light or HEPA filters won’t actually help; however, if someone sneezes into the air and that air first passes through an ultraviolet light purifier, the UV light can potentially protect anyone who encounters those droplets.

HEPA Filters and Coronavirus

HEPA filters can’t protect you so directly, but when lighter airborne droplets latch on to solid particles like dust or ash, and then those particles pass through a HEPA filter, they will likely get trapped and won’t be able to reach you.

 

Get in Touch

We are open to serve you safely with contact-less options during this difficult time.

For our customers who want to schedule an indoor air duct cleaning, we are currently offering a 10 percent discount across the board for any of our three packages! 

Bronze Package

With this package, our technician will clean, deodorize and sanitize your air ducts of all contamination.

Silver Package

With this package, our technician will provide everything in the Bronze Package plus cleaning the A/C coil and fan compartment.

Gold Package

With this package, our technician will provide everything in the Bronze and Silver Packages plus a 21-point furnace inspection and maintenance.

 

As an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic, Clean Air Solutions Hamilton remains open to serve our customers safely during this difficult time. We always ensure the safety of both technicians and our customers by practicing all safety precautions and contact-less processes. Our team is ready to provide you with the heating and cooling system(s) you need in Kingston, London, Hamilton, Burlington and the surrounding areas!

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online.

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Duct Cleaning Season for a Reason! (Get 10% Off Yours)

This Summer Is Duct Cleaning Season for a Reason! (Get 10% Off Yours)

There are two spring events that tend to fairly consistently get Canadians all riled up, although for very different reasons.

First, there is the traditional annual spring cottage re-opening weekend, which typically takes place in late May (although this year, restrictions due to COVID-19 have mostly squashed any plans in that direction).

Next, there is the spring allergy season. This year allergy season is more worrisome than ever because of concerns over the secondary respiratory complications brought on by the new novel coronavirus. 

If ever there was a moment to double down on everything we can possibly do to keep our indoor air clean and safe, it would be right now. This is why this summer is the perfect season to do an indoor air duct cleaning, especially if you have never done one before!

Be sure to read through to the end of this post to learn how you can get 10% off on our popular indoor air duct cleaning service.

 

Why Is Indoor Air Duct Cleaning Suddenly So Popular?

Air duct cleaning has only just become well publicized over the last handful of years.

This is not, as many people assume, because it is a new invention. Far from it!

Rather, air duct cleaning is getting more publicity because our indoor air is getting a lot dirtier!

A few years ago, the EPA released a shocking report showing that our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than the already-toxic air we were already worried about outdoors.

This is not a fun or easy document to read, but it is, unfortunately, quite accurate.

To further compound matters, the average Canadian reports spending as little as five minutes per day outdoors. Now, with the shelter in place issues we are facing nationwide, many of us don't even leave our homes for days on end.

 

What Is Air Duct Cleaning?

Air duct cleaning is a specialized cleaning service that can accomplish three specific and vitally important goals:

1. Removes trapped toxins from your duct system.

What kinds of trapped toxins are lurking in your ductwork?

We can tell you that we've seen some pretty strange things over our decades of service in the HVAC and indoor air quality industry!

We don't exactly expect to find old comic books, bird feathers, fast food bags or missing socks in your ducts (although it has happened), but we absolutely do expect to find the following toxins:

  • Dust and dust mites
  • Dirt and debris
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Dead insects and insect waste
  • Small animal nests and waste matter
  • Volatile organic compounds from household products
  • Particulate ash from incomplete combustion (wood or gas-fired appliances)
  • Tobacco ash or residue
  • Mould or mildew

2. Deodorizes each duct and the whole network.

Duct cleaning is not the first thing most homeowners think of when they are battling a persistent odour inside their homes.

It is easy to try many different things - from so-called air "fresheners" to odour absorbers to dehumidifiers and more - only to have the smell return again and again.

What we have so often discovered is that it is only after the homeowner calls and schedules an air duct cleaning that the odour finally goes away for good. This is because that eerie, lingering scent was trapped in the air duct system!

Frequently, the smell is coming from mildew or mould spores or humidity interacting with the host of toxins we listed here earlier.

As you might imagine, it is literally impossible to eradicate this kind of odour by going anywhere else but the source, which is exactly what an indoor air duct cleaning can accomplish.

3. Sanitizes against residual toxins.

No matter how powerful the negative pressure vacuum system is that we use, there will always be some lingering residual toxins that can almost seem baked into the siding of the ducts themselves. Don’t worry! We have a way to fight those toxins too. Sanitizing is a word that means "removing." When we sanitize the inside of your air ducts, we remove those lingering toxins that refuse to leave in any other way.

Often those toxins are microscopic in nature - very tiny PM2.5 particulates or mould and mildew spores that simply need a little extra motivation to relinquish their hold.

Sanitizing is the finishing touch that will leave your air ducts as squeaky clean and new on the inside as they were the day they were installed.

 

How Long Does An Indoor Air Duct Cleaning Service Take?

The typical indoor air duct cleaning service takes less than half a day for the standard residence or small office.

Our technicians will arrive wearing full PPE and are happy to arrange for contact-less options for your safety and convenience. We are staggering appointments to allow for extra time to clean, sanitize and disinfect in between each appointment.

 

Schedule Now and Get 10% Off Your Air Duct Service

Right now, and through June 30, 2020, select any one of our three popular indoor air duct cleaning services and get an automatic 10 percent off order price.

Bronze Package

With this package, our technician will clean, deodorize and sanitize your air ducts of all contamination.

Silver Package

With this package, our technician will provide everything in the Bronze Package plus cleaning the A/C coil and fan compartment.

Gold Package

With this package, our technician will provide everything in the Bronze and Silver Packages plus a 21-point furnace inspection and maintenance.

 

Get in Touch

As an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain open to serve you safely with contact-less options during this difficult time. Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we are working remotely but are still open to serve you safely with many contact-less options. We are ready to provide you with the heating and cooling system(s) you need in Kingston, London, Hamilton, Burlington and the surrounding areas!

 

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online to find out how we can help!

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Protect Yourself From Pollutants, Coronavirus Particles and Your Lungs

Protect Yourself from the Deadly Link Between Pollutants, Coronavirus Particles and Your Lungs

While most of the world has watched in horror at the pace of the new novel coronavirus, researchers have been working furiously to identify how it spreads and how to stop it.

We are desperately searching for answers to protect ourselves, reduce our risk, slow the spread, limit contact and do everything possible to eradicate the coronavirus itself.

Slowly but surely, what we are now learning is helping to slow the spread in some areas. Sometimes, we learn by what WE do wrong. Other times, we learn by studying what OTHERS have done wrong.

In the case of aerosol coronavirus transmission, we have only recently even discovered this is possible!

Once researchers learned that the earliest cases of COVID-19 could be traced back to the air ducts at the original Guangzhou, China, restaurant, the whole focus of research shifted.

In this post, learn what we now know about the deadly link between pollutants, coronavirus particles and your lungs.

 

Key Ways Air Pollution Worsens Risk of COVID-19

It makes some amount of common sense that anyone who has existing respiratory issues or immune system issues might be more vulnerable to catching any serious illness, including COVID-19.

But what has been most confusing about the new novel coronavirus is figuring out how it spreads.

Numerous research studies now link air pollution to areas where the number of COVID-19 cases are higher.

 

Who is most at risk of getting a severe or fatal case of COVID-19?

1. People who already have compromised heart and/or lung function due to a pre-existing respiratory condition and/or ongoing exposure to polluted air.

2. People who live in areas with high levels of air pollution, which can weaken and inflame even healthy lungs.

3. People who live in areas where air pollution is considerable. Coronavirus particles may be able to "hitch a ride" on pollution particles in order to travel longer distances.

 

What Works to Contain the Risk of Contracting COVID-19?

As some countries begin to see results from stay at home orders and other safety measures, this gives researchers the chance to study what is working and what is not.

We now have the ability to start identifying things that seem to work best.

These are the three best-known safety measures that appear to help limit the risk of getting COVID-19:

  • Social Distancing
  • Use of PPE (personal protective equipment)
  • Hand Washing and Hand Sanitizer

Now, researchers are giving us three other safety measures that might just be equally as effective and vital:

  • Breathing Clean Air
  • Lung and Heart Health
  • Air Ventilation

What can you do right now to start incorporating these three new safety measures into your daily routine at home and while working?

 

4 Tips to Clean Up Your Air

There is no doubt that the outdoor air in most areas has become cleaner and clearer due to stay at home orders.

As it turns out, sheltering in place isn't just good for our health. It is also good for our planet and its air supply.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given us ample proof that most of us are living with far more toxicity in our indoor air than anything we might find outdoors.

Plus, our indoor air toxins are more concentrated and we are exposed to them for far longer periods of time each day.

So, where you really need to start cleaning up your air supply is in your home and workplace. These four tips can help you achieve that goal in both places:

 

1. Bring in the houseplants!

As NASA has verified, houseplants are excellent at cleaning the air. This is because houseplants "breathe in" the carbon dioxide that we breathe out.

Houseplants breathe out oxygen, helping to improve air quality and ease the burden on our lungs.

Read our recommendations for the top 10 houseplants for improving your indoor air.

 

2. Keep your air filters squeaky clean.

You may have read advice on how to limit how often you handle or change your air filter right now, due to concerns about catching COVID-19. This, however, is not a great strategy.

A clogged air filter reduces ventilation, which is one of the key methods of diffusing aerosol (lightweight airborne) coronavirus particles before they can infect you.

 

3. Consider installing an ultraviolet air purifier.

If you've been keeping up with COVID-19 news, you've probably seen and heard multiple references to ultraviolet light.

In a move some scientists call "bringing sunlight indoors," researchers are investigating multiple uses for powerful artificial UV light in order to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

UV air purifiers for homes and workplaces can bring some of that same power into your home or office space, damaging coronavirus particles so that they cannot infect you.

Both portable and central (ducted) units are available.

 

4. Add the power of HEPA filtration.

HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) technology is definitely the best method of removing airborne particles that could help coronavirus droplets hitch a ride to travel farther and infect more people.

HEPA filtration has long been a staple in the healthcare industry, especially in hospitals, urgent care clinics and laboratories where the risk of airborne toxins is high.

Most residential and many commercial HVAC systems are not built to handle the intensely dense HEPA air filters.

However, you can add a standalone HEPA filtration unit that won't overload your HVAC blower motor and will still do the hard work of filtering out even microscopic airborne toxins.

 

Get in Touch

Indoor air quality has been deemed an essential service throughout this difficult time. Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we are working remotely but are still open to serve you safely with many contact-less options. We offer both portable and central (ducted) units and are ready to provide you with the heating and cooling systems in Kingston, London, Hamilton, Burlington and surrounding areas.

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online for more information on both residential and commercial heating and cooling systems. 

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Kill Coronavirus With These Powerful Natural Cleaning Products

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be very hard to kill.

The new novel coronavirus can stay alive on paper, glass and even stainless steel for as long as five days.

Scientists currently do not know for sure how long coronavirus can stay alive on human skin, but it can certainly last long enough to merit frequent, vigorous hand washing sessions.

Unfortunately, those very same hand washing sessions can lead to dry, cracked, irritated skin – the very kind that can let the coronavirus germs in more easily. And the harsh chemical cleansing agents aren’t doing your skin or your health any favours in the meantime.

Are there any natural cleaning products that can effectively kill coronavirus without exposing you and your family to harsh toxins? Yes!

But there are also two important "how to" cleaning and disinfection tips you need to know in order to make the natural cleaning products you use effective.

How Long Can Coronaviruses Live On Different Surfaces?

According to WebMD, the coronavirus can live for different lengths of time on different types of surfaces.

These are generalized estimates based on evaluating the whole family of coronaviruses that SARS-CoV-2 also belongs to.

  • Paper: anywhere from minutes to up to five days
  • Cardboard: 24 hours
  • Plastic: two to three days
  • Wood: four days
  • Metal: five days
  • Stainless steel: two to three days
  • Glass: as long as five days
  • Ceramics: as long as five days
  • Aluminum: from two to eight hours
  • Copper: four hours
  • Fabric: not known
  • Shoes: not known
  • Food: not known
  • Skin, hair, nails: not known (but likely a matter of hours)

To Kill Coronavirus, You Need to Clean AND Disinfect

The coronavirus is what the CDC calls an “enveloped virus.” What this means is that the RNA that causes COVID-19 is inside a protective fatty (lipid) membrane.

As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains, it takes two steps to kill this type of virus: cleaning and disinfecting.

1. Cleaning

Cleaning will pick up and remove germs. It will also pick up and remove dirt, dust, pollen, pet dander and other debris.

But cleaning doesn’t kill the germs. It just moves them from the surface to the towel or sponge or your hands.

For this point, remember: Cleaning = Removing or Moving The Germs.

2. Disinfecting

Disinfecting is the step that actually kills the germs. The disinfecting process will damage, neutralize, inactivate or destroy germs that could otherwise cause you harm.

For this point,, remember: Disinfecting = Killing The Germs.

NOTE: Disinfecting is not the same as sanitizing or sterilizing. Sanitizing can reduce the quantity of germs on a surface by killing or at least moving some of them. Sterilizing will kill all the germs. But sterilizing is a more complicated process and is typically only used in hospitals and laboratories.

The CDC-Recommended Method to Clean and Disinfect

This is the method the CDC recommends to first clean and then disinfect any surface.

1. Wear disposable gloves.

2. Clean the surface first using soap and water or an appropriate detergent.

3. Apply the disinfectant for the recommended time period (called a “dwell period”).

4. Allow the disinfectant to dry (you can wipe away any excess).

5. Dispose of your gloves (or reserve that pair only for cleaning and disinfecting).


Natural Cleaning Products That Also Disinfect Against Coronavirus

It is true that bleach (in proper concentration) is a robust choice for disinfecting against coronavirus. But it is also toxic to breathe and handle. What natural cleaning products can do the same job without the toxic side effects?

Consumer Reports has compiled a fabulous and detailed review of the best products to destroy (disinfect) coronavirus.

These are only natural products on the CDC's list.

Soap

All soap is more than a match for coronavirus. It doesn’t matter what kind of soap you use.

There are two basic kinds of soap: ionic and non-ionic. The former is more effective against viral germs and the latter is easier on your skin.

But both kinds of soap can effectively damage the outer fatty layer of the coronavirus to destroy the RNA inside.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Undiluted hydrogen peroxide at a three percent concentration applied for a dwell period (contact period) of six to eight minutes can kill coronavirus.

Hydrogen peroxide is non-corrosive and you can use it on metals safel (be careful with fabrics, however, as some may discolor.)

You don’t have to wipe it away afterwards because it essentially breaks down into two safe elements: water and oxygen.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Undiluted isopropyl alcohol (70 percent concentration) applied for a minimum dwell period of 30 seconds can kill coronavirus.

Alcohol is safe to use on every surface, however it can cause discolouration on some specific plastics materials.

Ethyl Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol at a 62-71 percent concentration applied for a minimum dwell period of 30 seconds is also an effective way to kill coronavirus.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing ethyl alcohol with drinking alcohol, which typically has only a 40 percent concentration at best. You can figure out how much ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is in alcohol by looking for the “proof” and multiplying that number by two.

NOTE: You may have also noticed that certain trusted natural cleaning products – most notably white and apple cider vinegar and baking soda, as well as essential oils like tea tree oil – did not make the list of disinfectants capable of killing coronavirus. You can certainly continue to use these products for phase one cleaning, but in order to save time, you may just want to skip straight to the products listed above.

Get in Touch

We are open to serve you safely with contactless options during this difficult time.

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online.

 

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Stay Home Safely With These Clean Air Solutions Tips

All over the world people are doing their best to shelter in place in order to protect themselves from COVID-19.

While this is one proven method to reduce the risk of contracting the new novel coronavirus, it isn't the only important safety measure to take.

A few weeks ago, we shared details from a breaking news story linking dirty outdoor air to higher COVID-19 mortality rates.

Unfortunately, the EPA recently released data proving that, for most of us, the air inside our homes and workplaces is up to five times more polluted than our outdoor air.

This can cause our home to be one of the most dangerous places to be, especially if you are already in a high risk group due to age or another health issue.

In this post, we share our favourite indoor clean air solutions to help you make sure your home remains a safe place to shelter.

Meet the Most Common Indoor Air Toxins

As the EPA explains, the most common toxins inside North American homes today come from regular daily activities and trusted products that we wouldn’t normally question.

Once you understand where you may be introducing pollution into your indoor air - or at least allowing it to come in - it is a lot easier to know how to fix the problem.

Let's take a look at what is probably polluting your indoor air right now!

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are released from new home furniture and furnishings, commercial cleaning products, paint and solvents, personal care products, fragrances and air "fresheners" and many other modern products.

Combustion by-products.

Combustion happens anytime a fuel source ignites. The most common types of combustion inside the home come from smoking and vaping, burning candles or incense, use of gas or wood-burning appliances and idling car engines.

Radon.

Radon is a naturally-occurring, colourless, odourless gas that is produced when uranium and certain other rocks begin to decay. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the first leading cause in non-smokers here in Canada.

Biological materials.

Pollen, mould, mildew, dust mites, pet dander and pests such as insects and rodents can all bring toxic biological materials into the home. Often this happens "behind the scenes" in the attic, basement, garage and drywall.

Clean Air Tips to Detoxify Your Indoor Air

Each one of these clean air tips will help you remove or block toxins that are polluting your indoor air and lowering your immune system's resistance to the new novel coronavirus and other worrisome health issues.

1. Keep your air filter clean.

Even as you are spending more time at home, it is still all too easy to forget about inspecting and changing (or cleaning and replacing) your hard-working indoor air filter.

Your standard furnace air filter may not be able to filter out all the toxins inside your home, but it will definitely do its best work when it is clean.

Right now, many of our customers are also choosing to add on a standalone HEPA air filtration system (both central and portable models are available) for an extra layer of protection inside the home.

HEPA air filtration systems are capable of filtering out up to 99.97 percent of very small solid airborne particulates (as small as 1/100th the width of a single human hair).

HEPA filters are used in laboratories, hospitals and urgent care centers around the world.

2. Make the switch to green cleaning and personal care products.

There is no doubt it can be hard to look at that stash of commercial cleaning products, bath and body products, air fresheners and home care products without seeing dollar signs.

And it is true that certain extra-strong cleaning and disinfection products are recommended for use right now to guard against coronavirus.

But as best as you are able, consider beginning the transition from those chemical-laden products to green products made with natural ingredients.

In most cases, essential oils do the same great job, adding pleasant fragrance to your home without the VOCs.

And in most cases, natural ingredients like lemon juice, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, white and apple cider vinegar and rubbing alcohol along with plain water will do the same job just as well.

We devoted an entire blog post to DIY home cleaning recipes that can give you the same great squeaky clean home without the side helping of toxicity.

3. Increase air circulation and ventilation in your home.

Depending on your budget and situation, improving air circulation and ventilation can be as simple as turning on a ceiling or floor fan and opening up a window.

A better option that also addresses trapped toxic, stale air is the heat recovery ventilator, or HRV.

HRVs isolate fresh incoming air from stale outgoing air, ensuring a steady cycle of ventilation and air circulation. HRVs also recycle otherwise wasted energy to lower heating and cooling bills while helping to balance indoor air humidity levels.

HRVs can work with any central (ducted) HVAC system.

4. Add on an ultraviolet air purifier.

Ultraviolet air purification has been having its 15 minutes of fame since the pandemic began.

Shortwave UV-C light is the most powerful tool we currently have to neutralize coronavirus particles.

A variety of ultraviolet air purifiers are available for all size spaces to purify your HVAC coils as well as your indoor air. Both central (ducted) and portable models exist.

Get in Touch

Indoor air quality has been deemed an essential service here in Ontario province. While our staff is working remotely at the moment as a safety precaution, we are always here to serve you.

Right now, in addition to our suite of customized indoor air solutions for homes and workplaces, we are offering curb-side service, pick-up, delivery and online orders with contactless payment methods for convenience and safety. 

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online.

 

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COVID-19 Air Quality Safety: What We Can Learn From Health Care Workers

doctor with face mask

We knew nearly from the start that the coronavirus can be spread through close contact.

But recently, a number of research studies presented compelling evidence that the coronavirus spreads through HVAC systems as well. (You can read more about this research in last week's blog post here.)

This is pretty scary stuff!

But as they say, more knowledge also means more power to protect ourselves. When we know where the threat is more likely to come from, we can put protections in place against that threat.

To learn how to protect against the airborne transmission of virus germs, we must look to the front lines - to the health care industry. What are health care systems and workers doing to limit risk and stay as safe as possible?

In this post, we outline exactly what is being done and how you can implement the same strategies at home or workplace.

4 Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Safety

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has released its recommendations for maintaining and upgrading indoor air quality and safety for frontline health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.

While not all recommendations are applicable to the general public, these four are vitally important and can be easily implemented without delay.

1. Maintain a relative humidity level of 40 to 60 percent

Nearly from the beginning, research has verified that warmer temperatures combined with higher relative humidity can be an effective means of limiting virus transmission.

The cold season is typically a time when humidity levels plunge to 10 percent or lower. Combined with cooler temperatures, this makes right now the most dangerous time for virus transmission.

There are a number of ways to boost indoor humidity levels. Adding houseplants, leaving the door open after showers and baths, steaming water on the stove, and even placing bowls of water around the house can all add some ambient humidity back into the air.

However, the easiest and best way to regulate and maintain the desired humidity range is to install a whole-home humidifier. These units work with your existing ductwork to keep relative humidity levels consistent inside your space.

If your space lacks central ductwork, you may want to consider purchasing one or more portable humidifiers to add back humidity in high traffic areas.

2. Use HEPA air filtration systems

HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters were invented in World War II. They are still heavily in use today. The HEPA filter is particularly dense and can trap incredibly tiny particles and keep them from travelling any further into your space.

HEPA filters are too dense for most residential HVAC systems - there is a risk of home fire from over-taxing the blower motor.

But aftermarket HEPA filtration systems can work directly on the air as it leaves the blower and passes into the air ducts, filtering out toxins before they can enter the duct system.

If your space lacks central ductwork, portable HEPA filtration units are also available.

3. Install ultraviolet air purification systems

ASHRAE and other organizations have been recommending the use of ultraviolet light as a purifying agent since the start of the pandemic.

Ultraviolet light (band C) is the most powerful natural disinfectant and decontaminant we have on Earth.

Modern UV air purifiers use focused short-wave bands of UV-C light to neutralize gaseous and liquid particles so they cannot cause harm.

UV air purification systems can work in a number of different ways depending on where they are placed. Some systems irradiate the HVAC coils, while others may be placed at the start of or even inside the air duct system to purify the air there.

If your space lacks central ductwork, portable UV purification units are also available.

4. Improve indoor air ventilation (eliminate or limit air recirculation)

Recirculated air has become a major problem in new construction today. This is largely thanks to new airtight construction processes that seal up every tiny crack and crevice where outside air might come in and indoor air leak out.

This is great for energy bills, but not nearly so good for ventilation. Heat recovery ventilators have now become the norm for new construction because they act like a set of mechanical “lungs,” constantly “breathing in” fresh air and “breathing out” stale air.

Heat recovery ventilators also help balance indoor air humidity levels and recycle otherwise lost and wasted heat energy. But most importantly, they eliminate the threat of virus transmission through recirculating stale indoor air.

Is It Time for an Indoor Air Duct Cleaning?

In most parts of Canada, homes that have indoor air duct systems have never once been cleaned out and sanitized.

Over the last five years, we have seen increasing interest in this service as people get more worried about the health consequences of toxic indoor air.

Initially, many of our customers express concerns that the duct cleaning process will be messy and time-consuming. But today's indoor air duct cleanings can generally be done in less than a day and are completely safe.

We use an enormous industrial-strength negative pressure vacuum to pull out all the trapped debris and then go back in with a powerful sanitizing and deodorizing agent to neutralize any remaining residual threats.

Many of our customers tell us their indoor air is so clean afterward, they can literally smell the difference.

An indoor air duct cleaning is an essential step in eliminating recirculated toxins and ensuring a steady supply of fresh, safe air inside your space.

Get in Touch

We have been deemed an “essential service” during the shelter-in-place order here in Ontario. We are here to serve you in three ways: through curbside pickup, online orders, or shipping.

Our technicians are also available for service calls on a case-by-case basis.

Give us a call at 905-549-2470 or visit us online to let us know how we can help.

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Indoor Air Quality Is an Essential Service: Clean Air Fights COVID19

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As more research data becomes available about the new novel coronavirus, aka CoV-SARS-2, we learn more about the link between air quality and risk of COVID-19 infection.

In fact, just this week, not one but two new research studies were fast-tracked into publication because of their relevance to addressing the current pandemic.

In each study, researchers stated that social distancing and handwashing alone are far from sufficient to protect against COVID-19 infection. Their reasoning is simple, yet until now it was overlooked.

The new novel coronavirus can be transmitted through the air.

Yes, this statement flies in the face of current World Health Organization (WHO) guidance. However, researchers and air quality experts on three continents (China, Australia, North America) agree that COVID-19 can be spread via airborne transmission.

Can it or can't it? Do you want to wait and see who is right? Or do you want to take action to protect yourself?

How COVID-19 Goes Airborne

The first article was written by Chinese researchers who studied the original COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Guangzhou in China. This article was published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The researchers concluded that it was the restaurant's air conditioning ventilation system that spread germs from one asymptomatic diner to nine other diners who were seated more than one metre away.

The second article was written by Australian researchers who studied the 2003 SARS outbreak and several other viral outbreaks in our recent history. This second article was published through ScienceDirect in Environmental International Journal.

These researchers also concluded that COVID-19, like the other coronaviruses before it, could be spread through the air.

It is true that the initial coronavirus droplets are heavy as they are breathed or sneezed out. But soon the droplets start to evaporate. This makes them lighter. Lighter droplets can linger in the air and travel greater distances.

For this reason, the researchers concluded that simply practising social distancing and handwashing is far from sufficient to protect against COVID-19 infection.

3 Keys to Stopping Airborne COVID-19

A few weeks ago, we didn't even know if wearing face masks served any purpose. We know now that face masks have at least some protective benefit, although they do a better job of protecting others from us than protecting us from others.

So if social distancing, handwashing, and face masks alone are not enough protection, what else can be done to limit risk of exposure?

Thanks to the Canadian, Chinese, and Australian research teams, we now have more information than we did about how COVID-19 spreads. And the more information we have, the more protection we can put into place.

1. COVID-19 uses a liquid medium to spread

With airborne toxins, the first key is to identify what medium they use to spread. In other words, are they solids (particles), gases, or liquids?

In the case of the new novel coronavirus (CoV-SARS-2), the virus germs spread via liquid. Knowing this coronavirus uses a liquid transmission method points us toward ultraviolet light as the best purification method.

Viruses are strange organisms. They are made of organic material, but they aren't alive. Once the thin outer membrane that surrounds the viral code gets damaged, the virus can't replicate and infect you.

Ultraviolet light band C can degrade the outer membrane of coronavirus particles and neutralize its impact.

Today's ultraviolet light purification systems use a synthetic form of shortwave UV-C light that can damage and neutralize these airborne particles so they can't harm you.

Both central (ducted) and portable (ductless) UV air purification units are available.

2. COVID-19 uses forced air systems to travel

When working with airborne toxins, the second key is to identify what means they use to travel. Previously, we thought the liquid particles were so heavy they could travel only short distances before settling on surfaces, be those doorknobs or shirtsleeves.

But now we know the germs can become lighter over time and rise up, catch airwaves, and ride those waves to spread farther.

We also now know that forced-air HVAC and ventilation systems help the lightweight liquid airborne germs travel to greater distances and infect more and more people.

This information points us to duct cleaning and improved indoor air ventilation as key methods to reduce risk.

Heat recovery ventilation systems separate incoming fresh air and outgoing toxic air to ensure any airborne coronavirus particles get exhausted to the outside rather than continuing to circulate inside your space.

Indoor air duct cleaning services can go one step further to clean and sanitize the entire network of ducts, clearing out additional trapped toxins that can compromise lung and immune system function and lower resistance to COVID-19.

3. COVID-19 is more deadly in the presence of dirty air

The third key when working to stop airborne toxins is to identify existing conditions that can make their impact worse.

A couple of weeks ago, we shared breaking news from another research study showing that dirty air makes COVID-19 deadlier.

When the air we are breathing is already contaminated with toxic gases, solids, and liquids, our lungs have less ability to fight off serious secondary symptoms of COVID-19 like pneumonia.

This information points us toward HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration, which is the best method on the planet to filter out toxic particles before they can enter our lungs and cause harm.

Both central (ducted) and portable (ductless) HEPA filtration units are available.

Get in Touch

Indoor air quality has been deemed an essential service during this time of sheltering in place.

We are working closely with our sister company, Shipton's Heating and Cooling, to provide you with the very latest in HVAC and indoor air quality technology and service.

If we can help you in any way, just give us a call at 905-549-2470 or visit us online.

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Make Your Home Coronavirus Unfriendly With These Steps

family at home in front of couch

As you likely have already heard by now, Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, foresees a long delay before “life as usual” returns for us here in Canada.

With a health care system hard hit by emergency needs and no vaccine to protect people from COVID-19, it is hard to justify a less restrictive forecast. Even so, this can be hard news to fully absorb and accept.

The truth is, daily life as we know it has been interrupted for the unforeseeable future. Even though health officials are making predictions, no one truly knows what is ahead.

But there are some helpful things we do know now, like how we can stay safer at home and protect our vulnerable loved ones.

First, we must do everything we can to keep our immune system strong. Second, we must set up our daily environment to minimize risk.

Thanks to dedicated frontline health care workers, scientific researchers, building engineers and indoor air quality experts, we do know exactly what to do to achieve this second goal without waiting.

In this post, learn exactly what you need to do to make your home as coronavirus-unfriendly as possible.

Airborne Coronavirus Particles Must Be Stopped at Your Door

It can be a hard reality to adapt to – knowing that every single time you leave your house, you may return home carrying some very unwelcome microscopic visitors with you.

Of course, there are some protective measures you can take right away, before you even set foot inside your house.

We are following these steps as well and highly recommend that you give them a try.

  1. Remove your mask and/or gloves and discard them immediately.

  2. Remove your shoes at the door, wipe them down and leave them outside to dry.

  3. Disinfect all personal items such as purses and bags before bringing them inside.

  4. Remove your clothing and launder everything immediately in hot water.

  5. Take a shower in warm water and soap and wash your hair.

As we’ve been talking about in recent blog posts here, these steps are critical because the coronavirus cannot remain viable in the presence of heat and humidity. The virus starts to break down quicker under hot, humid conditions.

In fact, in a recent Live Science article, scientists made some surprising findings about how and where COVID-19 outbreaks have been mild to minimal.

Less than 6 percent of total COVID-19 cases worldwide have occurred in areas with sustained temperatures of 18°C (64.4°F) or higher and relative humidity of 50 percent or higher!

As we well know, these climate conditions are not common here in Canada, which can serve up brutal extended winters that are bitterly cold and not at all humid.

But just because the outdoor weather is not complying does not mean you can’t create a consistently coronavirus-unfriendly microclimate in your home!

"Healthy Building" Steps to Make Your Home Coronavirus-Unfriendly

As a complement to removing and disinfecting any potentially contaminated items of apparel and immediately bathing when you get home, you can take these additional steps to make your home a very unfriendly place for coronavirus.

As Canadian Consulting Engineer Magazine states, “healthy buildings” are part of the solution that could potentially stop the spread of COVID-19.

How can you make your home a healthy building? These are the four steps we recommend that you take immediately.

Step 1: Do your best not to bring the coronavirus into your home

By following the steps we outlined earlier here, you can prevent unknowingly carrying the coronavirus inside your home on your skin, hair, shoes or clothing.

By leaving all the supplies you need to do a thorough disinfection right near the doors of your home, it will be easier to remember to stop and take all safety precautions before entering your home.

Step 2: Improve your in-home ventilation system to exhaust stale air continuously

This step is especially important once anyone in your family becomes ill, even if the illness is not COVID-19.

You simply must keep your immune system as strong as possible.

Upgrading your in-home air ventilation system is the best way to send any circulating toxins, bacteria, viruses, mould or mildew and other contaminants back outside quickly, where they can disperse and cause no further harm.

Heat recovery ventilation is one of the best ways to ensure continual, safe, in-home ventilation.

Step 3: Purify your indoor air supply with ultraviolet light

The most protective air purification method available today is called UVGI, or ultraviolet germicidal irradiation.

This type of air purification system uses short-wave ultraviolet band C light (band C is the most powerful band of natural ultraviolet light) to irradiate the air and destroy toxins.

UVGI purification systems are now recommended for use in all medical and laboratory facilities. The technology is also available for residential use in many areas.

For homes with central (ducted) HVAC systems, whole-home air purifiers are the best choice. Portable models also exist for homes that lack ductwork.

Step 4: Filter out toxins with HEPA filtration

HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. HEPA filtration is a higher grade of air filtration than the filters inside the N95 protective masks that frontline health care workers and high-risk people are now wearing.

HEPA filtration systems are standard for use in medical facilities and laboratories around the world. Luckily, the same basic technology is available for residential use as well.

For homes with central (ducted) HVAC systems, whole-home HEPA filtration systems are the best choice. Portable models also exist for homes that lack ductwork.

Get in Touch

Are you concerned that your indoor space at home or work may be a haven for coronavirus particles?

This is a legitimate concern, but fortunately, we now know a lot more about how to make your personal space as safe and virus-free as possible.

Give us a call at 905-549-2470 or visit us online.

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Dirty Air Now Linked to Higher COVID-19 Mortality Rate

Air pollution Toronto highway

This week, scientific researchers and public health officials released confirmed findings about the link between air pollution and coronavirus fatalities.

Researchers analyzed more than 3,000 counties in the United States. Their data showed a clear connection between what they are calling “dirty air” and more severe or fatal cases of COVID-19.

If this sounds scary, it’s because it is.

What makes it scarier is that some areas right here in Ontario, including Hamilton, Sarnia and St. Catharines, have known air quality issues due to local industry, including petrochemical plants.

In the case of the new study, of most concern is a group of toxins called PM2.5. In this post, find out how to protect yourself against PM2.5 exposure both indoors and outdoors.

What Does PM2.5 Mean?

In the research study mentioned above, officials use the term “PM2.5” to describe a group of dangerous – and dangerously tiny – micro-particle toxins. The name refers to their size of 2.5 microns or less. 

But how tiny is 2.5 microns? To help you visualize it, think of a single hair on your head.

As we explained in this blog post, one strand of human hair is roughly 70 microns in width. The largest particulates in the PM2.5 category measure about 30 percent of that size.

So these are very, very small airborne particles that can easily find their way inside your respiratory passages and down into your lungs, causing chronic irritation and, eventually, long-term damage.

Steps to Stay Safe After PM2.5 Exposure

As you can now see, understanding the impact of exposure to PM2.5 toxins can be especially vital during the unusually dangerous situation we are all facing right now with COVID-19.

Many of us here in Ontario may unwittingly be in a higher-risk category than we have realized up until now for this very reason. This is true not just for the elderly, pregnant moms-to-be or people with existing health issues, but for us all.

With our local petrochemical and manufacturing industry pumping out particulates into our outside air, it is more important than ever before to take the following proactive steps to keep our indoor air supply clean and breathable.

1. Stop smoking, vaping and burning wood indoors, ASAP

Smoking or vaping indoors releases even more tiny particulates into your inside air. If you can’t avoid breathing these in while outdoors, at least you want to give your lungs a rest while you remain inside.

The same holds true with burning wood indoors in your fireplace or cook stove.

2. Apply sealant and weatherstripping to your home

Sealing up air leaks in your home and adding weatherstripping is a fairly simple weekend project, especially while you are stuck at home anyway.

The impact to your family’s health will more than make your sweat equity worth it. The particulates present in our outdoor air will no longer be able to find their way indoors and into your lungs.

As a side perk, weatherstripping and sealing can lower your HVAC energy bill by up to 20 percent.

3. Install an ultraviolet air purifier in your home

Ultraviolet light from the sun is still the best and most powerful purifying agent on the planet. But to neutralize the threat of COVID-19, you need UV band C, which is usually blocked from reaching the earth’s surface by the atmospheric ozone layer.

UV air purifiers deliver a synthetic band of UV-C that purifies your indoor air before it enters your air ducts.

While ultraviolet light is not as effective with particulates, it is ideal for addressing liquid or gaseous airborne particles – just the kind of particles that COVID-19 uses to transmit itself.

If your home does not use ductwork, you can opt for a portable ductless UV air purifier.

4. Install a HEPA filtration system

For tiny solid particles like PM2.5 toxins, what you need is a HEPA filtration system. These systems have been used since World War II to protect scientists from incredibly small radioactive particles and other tiny solid toxins.

Today, HEPA filters are used in hospitals and laboratories around the world. The N-95 mask uses a type of filter that is similar (although slightly less effective) than the HEPA filter.

HEPA filters will trap micro-particles before they enter your home’s air ducts for distribution.

If your home does not have ductwork, you can use a portable ductless HEPA filtration system.

Stay Safe With Healthy Habits

There isn’t a lot we can do right now about any past exposure we might have had to outdoor airborne toxins.

But there is still a lot we can do right now to boost our immune system function so it can effectively fight back against COVID-19.

Here are our current favorite immune-boosting tips you can add to your daily routine right away:

  • Remember to wash your hands!

  • Add more citrus to your diet to get extra vitamin C, or take more of the supplement.

  • Drink lots of plain water or lemon water to flush toxins out of your body.

  • Eat a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods.

  • Limit caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar.

  • Do everything you can to get at least eight hours of high-quality sleep a night.

  • Keep your stress lower by limiting your consumption of scary coronavirus news.

  • Take social support using your phone and online tools to stay connected.

  • Be kind to yourself – you are under a lot of stress!

By taking good care of yourself, you take care of all of us, too.

Get in Touch

During the stay-at-home order here in Ontario, our staff is also working remotely. But we are still here to serve your indoor air quality needs.

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-549-2470.

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Are You Allergic to Your Home? 8 Unseen Allergens You Need to Know About

vinegar as cleaner

It is far more common than you might suspect to be allergic to your own home.

In fact, home allergies are so common that Asthma Canada has developed an entire certification program to help asthma- and allergy-suffering Canadians identify home care products that are less likely to trigger symptoms.

The unpleasant truth is, many of the products we trust implicitly to clean, freshen and brighten our home are the very same that cause the chronic health symptoms we struggle with.

Even worse, those same products may be the ones that are overtaxing our immune systems right now and lowering our resistance to the deadly virus that causes COVID-19.

It can feel stressful to be stuck at home not knowing what you can do to protect your family. This article will teach you how to take some of that understandably nervous energy you may be feeling and use it to give your immune system a much-needed boost.

How to Identify “Home Allergy” Symptoms

The number one indicator of a home allergy is any set of symptoms that reliably worsens when you are at home.

Here are some commonly reported home allergy symptoms to watch for:

  • scratchy or sore throat

  • runny or stuffy nose

  • watering, itchy eyes

  • headache or migraine headache

  • sinus pressure or pain

  • mental fogginess

  • irritability

  • skin irritation or rashes

  • daytime sleepiness

  • coughing or sneezing

  • wheezing or difficulty breathing

  • chest tightness or pressure

What Causes “Home Allergy” Symptoms?

Most people still equate allergies with pollen or ragweed or even polluted outdoor air.

But recently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that our indoor air is anywhere from two to five times more toxic than the air outside our homes.

What this means is that it is far more likely your allergies are being triggered by what is inside your home than by what is outside it.

However, it may take a process of elimination before you can figure out exactly what it is inside your home that is triggering your allergy symptoms.

According to the EPA, these are the major categories of home allergens that often trigger allergy and asthma symptoms:

Combustion byproducts

Combustion is the process by which fossil fuels are consumed for energy. When combustion is incomplete, it produces by-products like carbon monoxide and particulate ash.

The most common causes of incomplete combustion include use of a wood stove or fireplace, furnace pilot light issues, smoking or vaping, cooking appliances and engine idling.

Biological elements

Biological elements such as pet dander and dead human skin cells are food for one of the most common allergens on the planet – dust mites.

Other types of biological elements can include mould, mildew, bacteria, fungi and pollen.

Volatile organic compounds

Volatile organic compounds are another one of the leading triggers for home allergy symptoms. VOCs are found in so many home and personal care products that they can be very difficult to eradicate.

Ethanol, formaldehyde, terpenes, acetone, benzene, butanal, carbon disulphide, dichlorobenzene – these hard-to-pronounce VOCs are found in everything from nail polish to deodorizers, detergents to plastics, home fragrances to air “fresheners,” paints to glues, home furnishings (carpeting) and furniture (chairs and couches).

Toxins and poisons

If you have ever used pesticides or insecticides and even some fertilizers, you are already familiar with the warning labels that are printed on these common home care products.

Ozone and radon

Ozone is healthy when it is located high up in our planet’s atmosphere. There, it protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

But down near the Earth’s surface, ozone can be harmful to us. Many small home office appliances and even some so-called air purifiers emit ozone.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that gets released when uranium breaks down. Uranium is naturally present in rocks throughout the world and is quite prevalent in some areas throughout Canada.

Exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the first leading cause in non-smokers.

What to Do to Get Rid of Home Allergies

There is a lot you can do to start cleaning up your home space, but it isn’t always easy to understand your options and what each can do to help.

1. Choose different home and personal care products

The ingredients lists in your home and personal care products are the first things you should check.

You can give your home a fabulous deep cleaning without having to use any harsh or toxic chemicals.

The same holds true for your personal care. Can’t pronounce the ingredients in your lotion, shampoo or perfume? Time for a change.

2. Invest in air filtration and air purification

Air filtration takes care of even the tiniest microscopic particulates, while air purification will break down liquid and gaseous matter to avoid transmitting infection, viruses and germs.

3. Circulate and ventilate

Are you living in new construction? New airtight construction standards are designed to minimize energy bills. But they also minimize air circulation and essential ventilation.

A heat recovery ventilator will make ventilation effortless while exhausting stale air, toxins and excess humidity. As a bonus, new HRV technology will also recycle heat energy to lower your heating bills.

4. Clean out those air ducts

You can’t see inside your air ducts…thank goodness.

But our tiny cameras can peer inside the average central air duct system to see the stomach-churning interior in gripping detail.

Thankfully, cleaning out your indoor air ducts can remove built-up allergy-causing toxins in a single day.

Get in Touch

We hope this article is helpful as you do everything you can to keep yourself and your family safe.

We are working remotely but remain at your service online or by phone at 905-544-2470.

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How to Clean and Maintain Your HEPA Filter

hepa filter closeup

As the novel coronavirus continues to make its progress across the province, the nation and the world, life has taken on a surreal quality. Is this really happening? Are we really in the middle of a worldwide pandemic?

Aside from physical distancing and sanitizing everything (including ourselves), there is not a lot we can do to protect ourselves. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends two things that help limit risk: the use of ultraviolet air purification and HEPA filtration.

In this article, we teach you how to take care of your HEPA filter so it can take care of you. You will learn the correct way to clean and maintain your HEPA filter based on the kind of filter you have.

Start Here: Read Your HEPA Filter Manufacturer Instructions

HEPA filters can be made of any number of materials, which is one reason they work so well. Materials commonly used to construct these unusually dense filters may include synthetic (nylon, polyester, etc.) or bio-fibres (animal, vegetable, etc.), metal, wool, foam, plastic, glass, oil and similar materials.

The frame in which your HEPA filter is seated may be made of wood, plastic, metal or even cardboard.

The type of materials used to make and seat your HEPA filter impact how you clean and care for it.

For this reason, it is important to review these instructions and contact the manufacturer if you have care questions to avoid voiding your warranty (if you purchased your HEPA filtration system from us, we would be happy to help you with this).

HEPA Filter Cleaning Tips: Do’s and Don’ts

Cleaning a HEPA filter is always a risky task. The reason is that any type of contact with the dense filter fibres can damage them and cause tearing, separation or holes.

Even worse, using the wrong method for cleaning a HEPA filter can trap toxins and moisture inside the filter fibres and invite mould growth!

Of course, when you go to check your HEPA filter and see all that dust and debris clinging to the fibres, it is only natural to want to give it a good cleaning. But the wrong approach here can leave you with a squeaky clean HEPA filter that no longer functions.

This can be an expensive mistake!

Instead, what you want to do is look on the HEPA filter itself to see if it is labelled “washable,” “reusable” or “permanent” or something similar.

If you don’t see any label on the filter itself, check with the manufacturer for guidance. In lieu of specific guidance, the safest action is no action.

If you do see a label to this effect, this means you can take at least some type of action to clean your HEPA filter.

No-water HEPA filter cleaning

The next safest action is to lightly brush off any visible dust or dirt, taking care to avoid disturbing the delicate network of interior fibres.

If you have a vacuum tool that can be set to low, you can run this over the surface of the HEPA filter (close but not touching) to vacuum off the worst of the dust.

Washable HEPA filter cleaning

It is almost never a good idea to try to wet or wash a HEPA filter unless your filter is specifically labelled “washable.” This is when you get the danger of mould growing inside the dense fibres, which makes it very hard for the HEPA filter to dry out fully.

For HEPA filters that are washable, always use clean, cool water without anything added to it. Try to avoid touching the inner fibres and hold the HEPA filter by its frame. The best way to dry a HEPA filter is in natural sunlight.

Protect Yourself While Cleaning Your HEPA Filter

If you weren’t concerned about inhaling airborne toxic material, you probably would never have thought to invest in a HEPA filter in the first place.

But then when you go to clean your HEPA filter, you are guaranteed to come into direct contact with those very same toxins. Unfortunately, cleaning a HEPA filter is always going to be a bit (or a lot) grimy.

To protect yourself, always take these precautions before cleaning a HEPA filter:

  • wear a face mask (N95 or N100)

  • wear long non-permeable gloves

  • be sure you clean your HEPA filter with a filtered vacuum (ideally a HEPA vacuum)

  • if at all possible, clean your HEPA filter outside

  • if your HEPA filter is washable, allow it to dry for at least 24 hours before use

When to Replace Your HEPA Filter

The majority of HEPA filter-rated appliances and devices require replacement filters at regular intervals.

How long your HEPA filter will last depends on your lifestyle habits and use patterns. Your HEPA filter will only be filtering when you are using the device (i.e., it is powered on and running).

Sometimes HEPA filtration systems come with other filters, including a pre-filter and/or a carbon filter. The pre-filter may be washable or able to be cleaned, but this does not mean the HEPA filter and/or carbon filter itself can also be washed or cleaned.

Always follow the manufacturer instructions for when and how to replace your HEPA filter and what replacement filters will work with your unit.

HEPA Filtration Systems for Every Space

There are two types of HEPA filtration systems: portable and whole-home.

Portable HEPA filtration systems are perfect for use in smaller spaces and any space that is not equipped with ductwork for a central HVAC system.

Whole-home HEPA filtration systems are designed to work with any ducted HVAC system.

Get in Touch

Right now, like so many businesses here in Ontario, we are working remotely.

If you need us, reach out online or call 905-544-2470.

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Air Pollution Increases COVID-19 Risk: 6 Ways Protect Yourself

hygrometer

If you were here in 2003, you likely remember the SARS epidemic. How could any of us forget watching that coronavirus sweep through Ontario and the nation?

As then, so now - only this time the coronavirus is spreading faster… well, you've read the news headlines. You know.

What you may not know is this: the 2003 SARS epidemic taught us a lot. While it may seem as if we’ve been caught unprepared for SARS-CoV-2, aka COVID-19, scientists have actually been studying the 2003 epidemic all along, searching for clues, links, anything at all that we can use when (not if) it happened again.

Now it has happened again. So what can science share to help us fight back?

Here is what we now know: air pollution makes the threat worse.

Exposure to polluted air makes healthy people sicker once the virus crosses their path. If air quality improves, cases lessen and symptoms become milder.

You can't clean up the air outdoors (although astronauts aboard the International Space Station have confirmed the air is visibly clearing in areas where people are actively sheltering in place).

But you can clean up your indoor air.

Even if you are sick or someone you are caring for is ill, cleaning up your indoor air now can potentially help you recover faster and stay well.

Learn what you can do now to clean up your indoor air and help your immune system help you stay well.

1. Take smoking and vaping outside

Obviously, giving up smoking and vaping would deliver the best results.

But for the sake of staying realistic, at least do your lungs and loved ones a service by taking these habits as far away from your indoor airspace as possible.

After all, the place where this new coronavirus is hitting the hardest is in the lungs. Pneumonia as a secondary infection is currently the leading cause of COVID-19 fatalities.

2. Cease all use of air fresheners, fragrances and perfumes

We realize it can be challenging to give up your favorite scents in these challenging times. But you don't have to give them up entirely! You just have to change the source.

The vast majority of commercially sold air "fresheners" and so many fragranced personal care products get their wonderful scents via toxic combinations of unpronounceable chemicals.

These chemicals are extremely irritating to the sensitive tissues of your respiratory system and lungs.

By far a better way to enjoy the scents you love is through natural citrus, spices, fresh flowers, essential oils and natural teas. Have you ever tried boiling water on the stove and dropping in an apple spice tea bag or a fresh clove stick? Heaven.

Even better, many essential oils actually have immune-protective properties.

Ginger, sweet marjoram, cinnamon, lavender, lemon, cypress, eucalyptus and others have been studied for their abilities to boost T-cell counts in the body's immune system (T-cells are the "killer" cells that fight off disease).

3. Keep your furnace air filter (and any other air filters) clean

The cleaner your furnace air filter is, the more toxins it can trap. The same holds true if you have an air filter in your vacuum cleaner or are using any indoor air quality aids like humidifiers, dehumidifiers or HEPA filtration systems.

If your stove has an exhaust vent, now is the perfect time to check and clean that as well. And make sure you give your clothes dryer a good cleaning and check the exhaust vent to clear away any built up dust.

Basically, if it is in or near your house and has an air filter, make sure it is cleaned regularly and thoroughly (or replaced on schedule) according to the manufacturer's instructions.

4. Tend to your HVAC coils, air registers, fans and exhaust vents

Isn't it amazing how quickly your ceiling fans can collect dust? The same holds true for your air registers and exhaust vents and HVAC coils. Dust just seems to gravitate to these places, where it is largely unseen but definitely felt.

Your lungs are also air filters and you don't want to make their job harder by letting dust build up inside your home. The most effective method of dusting is to use a wet cloth to actively trap the dust particles. The cloth can then be rinsed and washed. 

5. Cook outside or use slow cookers rather than your stove

As much as we all love to eat yummy food, cooking on a wood or gas stove releases a host of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your indoor air. Even if your gas stove has a hood (vent) you can use while you are cooking, you can't avoid breathing in some of those chemicals.

It may not sound wonderful to grill outdoors in the winter, but you would be doing your lungs a favor. Another option is to open up your windows and run a ceiling or floor fan while you are cooking indoors to exhaust any toxins to the outdoors as quickly as possible.

Another option to reduce VOCs inside your home is to use an electric slow cooker or your oven rather than cooking on the stove. Even if you don't make this change permanently, it sure can't hurt to do it temporarily until the COVID-19 threat lessens.

6. Increase your indoor air humidity

There is a direct link between increased humidity and increased immune response to cold, flu and coronavirus germs. So right now we are offering $50 off the installation of a whole home humidification system.

Other ways to temporarily increase indoor air humidity (aim for 50 to 60 percent, especially if your household includes elderly or immuno-compromised family members) is to run a portable humidifier, leave doors open after you shower or bathe or add more houseplants (which also have an air purifying effect on their own).

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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