January 17, 2008
Media Release

Improving indoor air quality in your home

York Region raising awareness during National Environmental Public Health Week
NEWMARKET – During the winter season, Canadians spend as much as 90 per cent of their time indoors.  The Regional Municipality of York public health branch advises that a lack of exchange between outdoor and indoor air due to closed windows can cause a variety of health problems, including allergies and asthma.
 
Public health inspectors monitor indoor air quality across York Region by responding to public inquiries and investigating mould complaints at rental residential units, schools, daycare centres and other public settings.
 
York Region public health recommends the following tips to improve and maintain healthy indoor air quality in your own home:
 
• Ensure a carbon monoxide detector is installed and in good working condition
• Routinely service the furnace to ensure it is working properly and efficiently
• Routinely change the furnace filters 
• Properly vent smoke and fumes from cooking appliances to the outside
• Inspect the attic regularly for leaks and ensure that it is well ventilated and insulated
• Enhance air circulation by opening a few windows to let fresh air in on nice days
• Carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions when using household cleaning products; use only in well-ventilated areas
• Avoid using air fresheners and other aerosol products
• Maintain a smoke-free home
• Never idle a vehicle in the garage
• Burn only clean, dry wood if you use a wood stove to heat your home
• Regularly clean your chimney to prevent soot and smoke particles from entering
• Avoid storing large amounts of wood in the house;  drying green wood can generate mould spores
 
York Region public health recognizes mould as a potential health hazard and warns that people who live in residences where there is mould may be more likely to experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and headaches.  Asthmatics are especially at risk as mould can trigger an asthma attack.
 
Mould is a fungus that grows in damp environments and may be found on windows, walls or wet carpets in the home. Residents can prevent mould growth by reducing indoor moisture levels.  To reduce indoor moisture levels:
 
• Maintain relative humidity in your home between 25 and 35 per cent during the winter season
• Ensure the caulking around the windows is in good condition to prevent water damage
• Properly vent moisture from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry areas
• Avoid hanging large amounts of wet clothes inside to dry
• Provide extra ventilation or use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture in the basement
 
Each year, the third week in January is designated as National Environmental Public Health Week.  York Region joins communities across Canada in recognizing and celebrating the services provided by public health inspectors during this week.
 
The 2008 National Environmental Public Health Week theme is “The Changing Face of Environmental Health Inspection – Past, Present and Future,” reflecting this rapidly changing and expanding profession of public health inspection.
 
The responsibilities of public health inspectors have evolved over the years and will continue to expand as the field of public health changes.  From collaborating with government agencies to investigate uninspected and ungraded food products, to the promotion of clean air initiatives, the ability of public health inspectors to adapt and accept new challenges in the field of public health is invaluable to York Region and our residents.
 
To learn more about a career as a public health inspector, visit the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors website www.ciphi.ca
 
For more information on this or any other health-related topic, please contact York Region Health Connection
at 1-800-361-5653.
 
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York and our services, please visit www.york.ca
 
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell: 905 716-2717
 Email:  Jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

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