Climate Change Respiratory Health

Do you remember when people first started talking about climate change? Did you believe that climate change was really happening, or were you in the opposite camp of folks who blew it off as just a bunch of bored climatologists with overactive imaginations?

As it turns out, those climatologists were probably right. Today, enough evidence has been gathered to support not only a general theory of climate change, but also specific forecasts to help us plan for what will likely come next.

In this post, learn how the effects of climate change are anticipated to affect us here in Ontario and how you can start now to safeguard your respiratory health.

Climate Changes Predicted for Ontario

As of this year, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is predicting that climate change will be affecting all areas in Canada. Different areas can expect different changes as the climate continues to shift.

For Ontario, the experts are forecasting that:

  • summers will be hotter;
  • winters will be less cold and snowy; and
  • heavier rains will continue with more severe stormy conditions.

PHAC also reports that some of the expected health risks of climate change are:

  • more cases of infectious disease;
  • more heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke, and worsening of existing respiratory ailments;
  • ever-worsening air quality, which can cause heart disease, allergies, and respiratory illness.

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? (In particular, we are not that excited about the hotter summers here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton).

The Potential Effect of Climate Change on Your Health

You probably noticed a theme in the three big shifts PHAC is predicting for Ontario and the surrounding areas. It will get warmer and wetter. The air will be more humid and the grounds will be more moist. With the lessening cold season, these conditions are likely to remain nearly year-round.

If you can feel your sinuses trying to make a break for it, you are in good company. They already know what you are likely starting to guess—these are not the optimal climate conditions for keeping your respiratory system healthy.

This is what we know about the ideal conditions for maintaining respiratory health:

  • Humidity levels are best kept between 30 and 50 percent.
  • Air should be cool and dry.
  • Contact with known allergens (like pollen) should be kept to a minimum.
  • Be vigilant to keep toxins, especially bacteria, mould, and mildew, out of your indoor spaces.

But with the advent of climate change here in Canada, we are likely to experience more warm, humid air (well above the 50 percent maximum) along with an increase in allergens, including bacteria, pollen, mould, and mildew.

So what can be done to protect your family’s health? We are glad you asked!

How to Reduce the Toxicity of Your Indoor Air

According to the Canadian Parks Council (CPC), the vast majority of Canadians spend 90 percent of their time indoors. This is significant for a number of reasons, including that it has been proven that contact with nature improves the human immune system—to the point at which it becomes measurably better at fighting off cancer!

But the declining amount of time we spend outdoors is also important to remedy for another reason: our indoor air is 2 to 5 times MORE toxic than our outdoor air.

As ever-more pollutants, irritants, and toxins crowd their way into our indoor air circulation, they have ample opportunity to multiply and spread as we move in and out of our toxic indoor air and our increasingly warm, humid outdoor air.

That is, unless, we follow the advice of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which outlines three critical changes that must be made to control our indoor air supply:

Source control

“Source control” refers to the source of the irritants, pollutants, and toxins that can invade our indoor air supply and, in turn, our respiratory system in turn. By controlling the amount and type of toxins that have access to our indoor air systems in the first place, we reduce the risk that climate change outside will exacerbate our existing indoor air issues, causing chronic illness and worse.

Here are our favourite methods of home source control:

  • Duct cleaning removes all the hidden, stuck toxins from your home’s air duct system in one day!
  • Dryer vent cleaning does the same for the hidden lint, allergens, and toxins tucked deep in the recesses of your dryer.

Ventilation improvements

Improving the ventilation indoors can bring in much-needed fresh air from the outdoors to reduce toxicity.

Here are ways to improve ventilation in your home or workplace:

  • Install a heat recovery ventilator. A heat recovery ventilator keeps the humidity level in your indoor air balanced and healthy. It also ensures stale air leaving your home does not find a way to come back inside and mix with the fresh incoming air.
  • Turn on your fans. Fans keep the air moving, which means the air in any particular room is never allowed to become stale and static.
  • Open windows and doors. When weather permits, opening windows and doors will do a great grassroots job of ventilating any room.

Air cleaners

Air cleaners do exactly what their name suggests—they filter and clean the air of toxins and pollutants.

Here are some of our favourites:

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