Real Estate Agent in East York - Better Homes And Gardens Real Estate

PROPERTY PERSPECTIVES #028: Breathe clean Spring air!

02 April 2017
Kevin Hartley

Ahhhh! Spring is in the air! As natural as it is, we don’t often give our indoor air quality too much thought, assuming it must be top-notch if our homes are clean and cared for, right?Health Canada lists three main categories of indoor air pollution affecting our indoor atmosphere: biological, chemical and radioactive.

Biological pollutants from living organisms like mould and fungi, bacteria, dust mites, pet dander and aeroallergens like pollen and spores. These allergens can cause symptoms from an annoying runny nose to the more serious allergic asthma. Keep windows shut when pollen allergies flare up, using an air purifier with a HEPA filter, and washing pets weekly can help reduce the allergens floating around your home.Chemical pollutants are particles, gases and vapours and like nitrogen dioxide (No2), carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde, lead, asbestos, ozone and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and dust.

The list of gaseous indoor pollutants includes things like building materials, cleaning products, asbestos-containing insulation. Some of these pollutants seem unavoidable, but there are easy ways to reduce your exposure. First, be thoughtful about what you bring into and keep in your home. Are you painting this spring? Dispose of near empty cans of paint and solvents; even when not in use these give off volatile gases. Shop for low-VOC paint. Air out chemically dry-cleaned clothes and lose the plastic bags. Opt for green dry cleaning. Use nontoxic cleaning supplies. 

Finally, there are radioactive substances like radon —an invisible, odourless radioactive gas found in homes everywhere. Exposure to chemical and radiological pollutants may cause symptoms like itchy eyes and dizziness and can have long-term effects like asthma and cancer. You can test your home for radon using an affordable home-test kit available at most hardware stores from $12-$35.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Allowing fresh spring air in is also crucial —so crack a window whenever you can.

Damp air, particularly in the basements of our East York homes, is a sign you should install a dehumidifier. When household humidity levels exceed 60% R.H., there is the risk of mould growth indoors.

Keep a dehumidifier in the basement, run it when the air outside becomes hot and humid.

Cold water pipes and toilet tanks can be insulated to minimize condensation and dripping moisture during a muggy summer.

Visible mould needs to be cleaned and the cause (leak, excess moisture) corrected. If you notice a detectable odour, find the problem and deal with it at the source.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has some excellent room-by-room guides and checklists for addressing air quality. Visit, then search “air quality” for a list of resources.

The Lung Association has specific programs for air quality and radon, available at

Happy Spring. Enjoy and breathe well!

Thanks for reading. Questions or ideas for a future blog? Feel free to contact me here.

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Kevin Hartley, Broker is a Toronto based real estate Broker with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate | Signature Service, Brokerage. @Home is his lifestyle blog, an expression of his passion for home keeping though MAKING (Recipes), DOING (DIY), BEING (Health/Wellness) and DWELLING (Home Ownership, Sales & Maintenance).  Content not intended to solicit clients under contract.

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