Testing the Air Quality in Your Home
As we spend more and more time at home, learn how to keep your family safe indoors, too.
We’ve all done our part to keep ourselves and our community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes staying home with our families. With most offices and all schools closed, you’ve probably spent more time at home than ever before – an important step in minimizing contact and exposure to the virus. But have you ever considered the risks lurking in your home? Indoor air quality can expose its own risks, from radon gas to carbon dioxide and other particulate matter. These not only affect your physical health, but can negatively impact your productivity and cognitive functioning, as well.
Here at Onlia, we’ve partnered with Setter, a Toronto-based technology company. If you have a home and auto policy with Onlia, they’re providing a free home safety checkup; a digital experience that helps homeowners identify and mitigate risks. They break down what you should be aware of, the risks of poor indoor air quality, and how you can improve it.
What should you know?
While uranium in soil and rock decays, radioactive gas is released into the air. This radon gas accumulates in basements and lower floors of homes, and while there is no known safe level of exposure, lung cancer risks increase with greater levels of exposure. In fact, 25% of homes across Ontario have radon levels above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, and are responsible for~14% of all lung cancer in Ontario.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colourless gas and another naturally occurring chemical compound present in the Earth’s atmosphere. It organically stems from volcanic outgassing, the combustion of organic matter and the respiration processes of living aerobic organisms. Low concentrations are not harmful outdoors, but because humans are the primary source of indoor CO2, indoor concentrations can skyrocket with poor ventilation. Scholars at Berkeley found a significant impact on a wide range of cognitive functions, like decision-making.
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What can you do?
We’ve compiled a list of a few things you can do to test the indoor air quality in your home, to help make it safer for you and your family:
1. Install an air quality sensor: like this one, from Awair.
2. Clean your air ducts:Duct cleaning helps improve air quality, especially for those who suffer from seasonal or dust-based allergies – plus, it’ll prolong the life of your furnace! Your ducts should be cleaned every 3-5 years.
3. Switch out your furnace filter: The average furnace filter has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of below 7. Switching your filter to one with a rating of 7-13 will significantly reduce the amount of airborne particulate in your home and allow you to breathe easier, free from dust, pollen, and other particulate agitators.
4. Spruce up your home with some plants: Plants are one of the best and most versatile additions you can make to your home to improve indoor air quality; not to mention, play up your home décor! They reduce carbon dioxide levels and increase oxygen levels – which help you feel more energized and productive – and they remove harmful chemical compounds in the air. Learn more about what types of plants are best for improving air quality here.
Need some guidance on where to get started? Through our partnership with Setter, their home safety checkup is free to Onlia customers who have both a home and auto policy, a complimentary gift valued at $175. Setter’s Virtual Home Checkup allows you to virtually tour your home with a Home Expert where they’ll create a personalized plan of recommendations to keep your home and family safe. Book your free home safety checkup here.