MedPPE July Blog 2

Healthy Home Check

Air pollution has been linked to severe virus outcomes. Is the air in your home healthy?

During the pandemic Canadians have been working hard to strengthen their immune systems by boosting the body’s own healing powers in their fight against the virus and other diseases.

Many studies have shown that indoor air—even in clean well-ventilated homes—could be considered seriously polluted. In the U.S., the EPA counts poor indoor air quality as an urgent environmental problem. 

The New York Times reported on a nationwide study that offered a clear connection between long-term exposure to pollution and mortality rates linked to the virus. The Times reported: “In an analysis of 3,080 counties in the United States, researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease. . . . The results of this paper suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe virus outcomes.” 

Air—the invisible blend of oxygen, nitrogen and other gases on which we depend—absorbs dust, pollen, molds, smoke and a host of other undesirable emissions and compounds. These substances can irritate mucous membranes (such as the eyes, nose and mouth) aggravate allergies and asthma and reduce resistance to viruses. 

We may not be able to have a huge impact on the outdoor air we inhale but we can control the quality of the air under our own roofs. Here is a list of where pollutants may be lurking in your home. Breathe easier by checking the following hot spots and implementing the suggested changes for making yours a healthier home.


Do a Healthy Home Check-Up


Clean household surfaces regularly to disinfect 

If you don’t keep surfaces clean, billions of tiny germs will soon make themselves at home. And if you’re not convinced that you need to disinfect the surfaces in your home frequently, think of this: One sneeze can contain 6 million viruses. Millions of nasal particles shoot out of the nose and mouth at high speeds. In fact, if a sneeze were a gust of wind, it would be strong enough to snap twigs.

A good surface disinfectant should be used to sanitize the objects we touch the most every day. Items such as table tops, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, wallets and credit cards, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, even the remote control. Health professionals recommend cleaning your surroundings regularly and disinfecting daily. Find out more about effective surface cleaners at

And don’t forget to keep every family member’s hands clean too! Cleaning hands at key times with soap and water or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to those around you. For more on what makes a quality hand sanitizing wipe, go to:


Tightly closed windows

Keep a couple of windows cracked open year-round to remove fumes released by chemical-laden furnishings, reduce mold-breeding moisture and lower levels of unsafe gases. If you have allergies, consider buying a High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) air cleanser. It’s a good idea to keep the air in your home as clean, clear and fresh as possible. Consider buying an air purifier that can effectively remove 99.99% of aerosols carrying harmful viruses, bacteria, mold and smoke from the air in your home. The Purashield 500 cabinet air purifier uses a disposable 4-layer filter, equipped with HEPA filtration for harmful particulate matter. Its compact and mobile design makes It ideal for use in your home or where ever you or your family are spending time. For more information go to:


Wall-to-wall carpeting

It can be a significant source of indoor pollution, trapping dust mites and dangerous fumes. These harmful agents are later released into the air. Carpeting also can be a hideaway for mold and mildew. Synthetic carpets may emit toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The healthier alternative: hardwood, linoleum, ceramic tile, or any other hard-surface flooring.


Lead paint

Over time, ingesting or inhaling dust and flakes from lead-based paint can cause brain damage. If you suspect that the paint in your home contains lead, don’t remove it yourself. Hire a specialist or cover it with wallpaper or paneling. Lead paint may be lurking in any home built before 1980.


Pressed wood products like plywood and particleboard

Construction materials used in some furnishings or shelving made with these woods are sometimes assembled using formaldehyde glues and adhesives. Formaldehyde irritates the respiratory tract and can cause or exacerbate allergic reactions.

Opt for furniture and cabinetry made with hardwood or “exterior grade” pressed wood, which contains phenol resins, not urea resins, so the fumes they emit are less troublesome. Or opt for metal shelves and cabinets. Open the windows wide after bringing home new furnishings that might contain formaldehyde and keep your air purifier running 24-hours a day.


Woodstove or fireplaces

In addition to producing toxic and irritating combustion by-products, these may fill the air with dangerous particles of ash if you burn anything other than commercial logs or hardwood—maple, oak, beech, elm or ash. Avoid damp firewood, which may release mold spores. If you still want to use your woodstove or fireplace, keep your air purifier running 24-hours a day.


Air conditioners

For many of us in Canada today, air conditioning is no longer a luxury but a necessity as a result of global warming. Both central and window air-conditioning units can harbour mold, especially when they’re not being used. Empty water trays, change filters often and keep your air purifier running 24-hours a day.



Patronize dry cleaners that minimize their use of perchloroethylene, a carcinogenic solvent also found in spot removers. Also, remove the plastic bags from newly dry-cleaned clothes before you leave the store so that the garments can air out on the way home. Store woolens in a cedar-lined closet or with cedar chips or aromatic herbs such as eucalyptus or bay leaf. Ensure your air purifier is regularly used to clear the air in your closet.


Kitchen trash can

Storing your garbage indoors may raise levels of airborne bacteria and fungi that could make you sick, according to one study, Samples of house dust from 99 homes in the Netherlands showed a significantly higher level of airborne microbes in households that stored remains of fruits, vegetables and other foods indoors instead of outdoors.


Sinks and toilets

Leaky fixtures can increase indoor humidity, promoting the growth of black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) identified as a health threat. Black mold isn’t the stuff that grows on ceramic tile or the grouting in your shower, but it may grow on walls, ceilings, ceiling tiles and carpets. In adults, it can cause fatigue as well as symptoms affecting the eyes, skin, lungs and nervous system. Exposure to this mold has also been linked as a cause for concern in infants. To keep moisture from building up, install and regularly use exhaust fans in all bathrooms as well as in basements and kitchens and fix water leaks promptly.


Gas stove

Install an exhaust fan—preferably one that vents to the outdoors—over the stove to reduce exposure to combustion by-products, including carbon monoxide. Check the flames regularly—the flames should be blue with a slight yellow tip at most. If the flame is too yellow or orange, have the utility company adjust it. If you have a gas stove, be sure to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.


Showers, dishwashers and washing machines

These appliances strip chemicals from the water and spew them into the air via heat and spray. University of Texas researchers found dishwashers to be among the worst offenders, releasing numerous chemicals including chlorine. Wait until the dishwasher has completely cooled before you open it. And turn on the exhaust fan or open a window during your bath or shower and for at least 10 minutes afterward.

Other research found that fecal bacteria and viruses, including hepatitis A and E. coli. Can survive the wash cycle and possibly infect you when you handle wet laundry. Minimize the risk by adding bleach to the first load to sanitize your machine. Wash underwear separately from other clothes using the hottest water setting.