Indoor Air FAQs

What is the most effective way to improve air quality in my home?

The most effective ways to improve your indoor air are to reduce or remove the sources of pollutants and to ventilate with clean outdoor air.  Upgrading the air filter in your furnace or central heating, ventilation, humidification and air conditioning system can help to improve indoor air quality.

Where does indoor pollution come from?

Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are a primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough fresh outdoor air to dilute the emissions. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.

What is whole home ventilation?

A whole home ventilation system is a mechanical air ventilator that continually provides fresh air throughout the entire home by way of air ducts. These are called ERVs or HRVs.

What's the difference between an exhaust fan and a ventilation system?

Whole home ventilation uses air ducts to move air through your home. These systems exhaust stale indoor air outside and replace it with fresh outdoor air. Exhaust fans target ventilation in specific areas. Exhaust fans can be placed in bathroom, kitchens, garages and other areas prone to moisture build-up and odours. Ventilation reclaims the wasted energy, while the exhaust would waste energy.

Is an air purifier better than humidifier?

Air purifiers and humidifiers serve very different functions. Air purifiers remove contaminants from the air, such as allergens, dust, mould, odours and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Humidifiers control the humidity levels in the room but do not improve indoor air quality. Dry air can irritate your nasal passages, often mimicking allergy or cold symptoms like itchy eyes or throat. Choose the appliance that is right for your home environment by talking to a doctor or your HVAC Solutions Specialists at A1.

How do UV lights purify the air?

By installing air purification UV lights within your HVAC system, you can be confident that this will safely reduce both VOCs and biological contaminants inside the air system and throughout your home. UV air purifiers that are designed to use short-wave ultraviolet light (UV-C light, the best kind to do the job) to inactivate airborne pathogens and microorganisms like mould, bacteria and viruses. Basically, the UV-C lights effectively kills the cells by destroying their DNA.

Did you know UV lights work the same way as the sun cleans the earth?!

Can portable air cleaners and furnace/HVAC filters actually fully solve mould problems?

No. Portable air cleaners and furnace/HVAC filters do not address the cause of mould and musty odours. Mould is caused by a water or moisture problem in the building that allows mould to grow. To solve a mould problem, get rid of the source of the moisture and clean up the mould.

Portable air cleaners and furnace/HVAC filters may remove some of the particles generated by mould. In some cases, they may also help reduce odours, but they will not resolve a mould and moisture problem

Can different scents inside my home affect air quality?

Scents, both good and bad, can affect your indoor air quality. Any kind of scent could trigger asthma symptoms. These can include scented candles, potpourri, perfumes, wax warmers and cleaning supplies. The most common air fresheners on the market emit over 100 different chemicals, including terpenes,  ethanol, formaldehyde, benzene and toluene.

How are HVAC/furnace filters rated?

There are several commonly used filter rating methods. These include the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), Filter Performance Rating (FPR), Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR) and others. MERV is based on a national consensus standard. The FPR and MPR rating methods are proprietary. For all rating methods, the higher the filter rating, the higher the removal efficiency for most particle sizes. MERV filters range anywhere from a MERV 8-16 rating.

How do I choose an HVAC/furnace filter that will be most effective at removing small particles of greatest health concern?

Use the highest-rated filter that your system fan and filter slot can accommodate. Filters with a MERV of 13 and above are required to demonstrate at least 50% removal efficiency for the smallest particles tested.

How do I know if my system can accommodate a MERV 13 filter or higher?

Most furnaces and HVAC systems can accommodate a MERV 13 filter without creating equipment problems, provided that the filter is replaced frequently. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether a system can use a high-efficiency filter since HVAC systems are not commonly labelled with any filter recommendations. To be certain a filter will work with your system, consult a professional HVAC technician. An HVAC technician can also modify the system to use a higher efficiency filter.

Can houseplants really improve indoor air quality?

There is currently no evidence that a reasonable number of houseplants remove significant quantities of pollutants in homes and offices. Indoor houseplants should not be over-watered because overly damp soil may promote the growth of microorganisms which can affect allergic individuals. Houseplants do, however, add moisture to the air in the home.

Can HVAC filters potentially have a positive impact on health?

Several studies using portable HEPA air cleaners have demonstrated small improvements in cardiovascular and respiratory health. The improvements are typically small and not always noticeable to the individual, although they may be measurable by health professionals.

Is Ontario's air quality getting better or worse?

Ontario’s air quality has improved steadily since 1988. We have good air quality approximately 90 per cent of the time.

How can I get outdoor air quality information for Ontario?

On this website: airqualityontario.com. This site provides Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) readings and forecasts, ambient air pollution data, as well as information on actions that can be taken when a Special Air Quality Statement (SAQS) or Smog and Air Health Advisory (SAHA) is issued.

How does air pollution affect my health and the health of my family?

Depending on the length of time you are exposed, your health status, your genetic background and the concentration of pollutants, air pollution can have a negative effect on your heart and lungs. It can:

  • Make it harder to breathe
  • Irritate your lungs and airways
  • Worsen chronic diseases such as heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma

Each person reacts differently to air pollution. Children, seniors and those with diabetes, heart or lung disease are most sensitive to the adverse health effects of air pollution.

Negative health effects increase as air pollution worsens. Small increases in air pollution over a short period of time can increase symptoms for those at risk.

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