Recent reports through The Weather Network highlight ever-worsening air quality in the southwestern parts of Ontario near Windsor. This is not that far from where our customers live and work here in the Hamilton and surrounding areas!
Unfortunately, the pollution infecting this region of Ontario is quite likely to spread. As one health official pithily states, “Clean air doesn’t happen by accident.” Neither does dirty air, it would seem.
Find out here how you can take precautions to reduce your family’s risk of health issues due to declining air quality.
The Health Impact of Worsening Air Quality Is Real
Our local air quality is worsening at alarming rates.
The current Air Quality Life Index reading for the Essex County area in Ontario, for example, is an 11 – a full percentage point above the World Health Organization’s standard of 10.
In this case, the concentration of circulating airborne particulate matter (collectively referred to as PM2.5, if you are an air quality researcher) appears to be the most concerning for human health. This is because much of the pollution appears to be coming from burning fossil fuels in energy plants and trade transportation.
Particularly concerning particulates can include liquid or solid organic or inorganic particles, including smoke, smog, ash, pollen, bacteria, fungi, mould, mildew, dust, dirt, pesticides and herbicides, insecticides.
PM2.5 particulates are invisible to the naked eye and too small to get trapped by the fine hairs and mucus membranes in the nose and throat. So they can travel all the way into our bodies, in time causing heart and lung disease and chronic respiratory issues like pneumonia or bronchitis, and readily crossing the placenta to affect the health of an unborn baby.
The Ontario Medical Association reports that it expects to see increased hospitalizations and premature deaths from exposure to toxic air in the region through the year 2026.
How to Prevent Invisible Particulates From Harming Your Family
After just learning that PM2.5 particulates are too tiny for your body to filter them out to protect you, you may justifiably be wondering if there is any way to protect your family from them!
The good news is, the answer is yes.
Meet the HEPA filter
Back in World War II, scientists were racing the clock to try to develop an atomic bomb. They were working in a laboratory where there was a high risk of exposure to radioactive particulates.
So the powers that be set about to create an air filtration system to protect the scientists as they worked. This system was called HEPA, for “High Efficiency Particulate Air.”
As the name suggests, HEPA air filters are specially designed to filter out even the tiniest airborne particulates – matter as small as 1/100th of a single human hair gets trapped inside these extra-dense, intricate filters and is permanently removed from the air.
HEPA filters still represent the gold standard for air quality today. They are used in laboratories and hospitals all over the world, as well as in many homes and workplaces.
But what about the liquid or gaseous particulates also present in the air today?
Meet the UV air purifier
Ultraviolet light from the sun is the most powerful air purifier in existence. The sun emits three light bands – A, B and C. A and B are the reason we wear hats and sunscreen when we go outside, but band C, which is the most powerful, is blocked by the ozone layer ringing Earth.
The UV air purifier uses ultraviolet band C light to zap passing liquid and gaseous particulates, literally changing their molecular composition so they cannot do any further harm.
Installing a HEPA Filter or UV Air Purifier
Many people assume that switching to a HEPA filter is as simple as popping out your current furnace filter and inserting a HEPA filter in its place.
It is not that simple, although we wish it was! Because of the unique density of the HEPA filter, few residential HVAC systems can safely accommodate it. A HEPA filter can make your air conditioner or furnace work far too hard to force air through to the air ducts, creating a situation ripe for overheating and motor failure.
There are HVAC systems with HEPA-grade MERV filter ratings, and this can make good sense if your existing system is nearing the end of its useful life.
But you also have other options to install either a HEPA filter or a UV air purifier (or both). Both systems can be retrofitted to work with any existing HVAC system. For homes or offices that do not have central ductwork, portable models are also available.
One More Thing You Need to Do
We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about the importance of indoor air duct cleaning in your battle to improve your family’s air quality.
This issue with worsening air quality in southwest Ontario didn’t just start yesterday. It has been steadily increasing since 2005.
This means that, unless you’ve just had your ducts cleaned, there are plenty of toxic particulates trapped inside your ductwork (perhaps years’ worth), a small but important portion of which are blown through and out into your rooms with every cycle of your HVAC system.
To fully start over with the cleanest, purest, toxin-free air, you need to have your air ducts professionally cleaned and sanitized.
As a special spring gift to you, right now, save 10 percent on any of our popular air duct cleaning packages!
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.