November 25, 2008
Media Release

Breathe easier this winter

York Region offers tips to improve indoor air quality in your home
NEWMARKET – During the cooler months, Canadians can spend as much as 90 per cent of their time indoors.  The Regional Municipality of York Community and Health Services Department, Public Health Branch encourages residents to be aware of the major elements that affect air quality in their home: environmental tobacco smoke, mould and proper ventilation.
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), also known as second-hand smoke, is one of the most harmful indoor air pollutants.  Second-hand smoke is a mixture of exhaled smoke and smoke from the burning end of a cigarette.  There are more than 4,000 chemicals in ETS, including lead, formaldehyde and tar.  ETS can remain trapped in a home even if the smoking took place days, weeks or months earlier.  The residue remains in dust particles that can be found in curtains, furniture and carpets in the home. 
Mould is a fungus that grows in damp environments and can affect the health of people who have allergies, or who have a low resistance due to other health conditions.  Mould spores are common in outdoor and indoor environments, but maintaining appropriate moisture level is key to preventing indoor mould growth.  To control mould growth in your home, maintain relative humidity levels in the range of 30 to 50-per cent and keep the temperature between 18°C to 21°C.  When necessary, use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture.  Help prevent excess moisture by promptly repairing leaks in the foundation or roof and window caulking.
Proper ventilation is important in achieving good indoor air quality.  Appropriate air exchange will help to reduce moisture levels in your home and remove other pollutants that may be found in the indoor air.
Below are some additional tips to help manage air quality in your home:
• Ask smokers to step outside, away from open doors or windows
• Routinely service your furnace to ensure it is running efficiently and change furnace filters following the manufacturer’s directions carefully
• Vent odours and moisture from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry areas to the outdoors
• Avoid hanging large amounts of wet cloths inside to dry
• Ensure your carbon monoxide detector is in good working condition
• Avoid using air fresheners and other aerosol products
• Carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions when using household cleaning products and use only in well ventilated areas
• Never idle your car in your garage
• If you have a  fireplace, burn only dry, clean wood, regularly clean the chimney and avoid storing large amounts of wood inside
• Enhance air circulation by opening a few windows on nice days
To learn more about indoor air quality or any other public health-related topic, please contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
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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: 905 251-5553

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