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Five sneaky threats to indoor air quality

As we’ve mentioned before on the Environmental Services Group blog, the Environmental Protection Agency says that we spend 90 per cent of our time indoors on average. In all likelihood, that number is even higher when the cold weather arrives.

Indoor air quality is therefore very important. We usually understand the more obvious threats to it, such as certain cleaning products, ventilation problems, smoking, and so on, but what about the lesser-known dangers? Here are five relatively ignored threats to indoor air quality for you to remember, as inspired by a piece on

1. New electronics

This one may blow your mind. But the truth is that many new electronics, including televisions, video game consoles and computers, are coated with polyvinyl chloride, which can cause hormonal abnormalities and reproductive problems. That “new plastic” smell when you take something out of the package actually means something. Ideally, you can ventilate the space with the device until the fumes relent. Also, be sure to polish and vacuum around the devices regularly.

2. Newly pressed wood and upholstered furniture

We think of hardwood as natural – come on, it’s wood! – but it’s often polished and treated in a way that causes it to emit formaldehyde later. After installing new hardwood, airing out your home is a good idea. An even better idea: seeking out formaldehyde-free wood.

3. Glues and other adhesives

Cleaning products are the more obvious threats but glues and adhesives often emit volatile organic compounds. It’s tough to find glue that won’t affect your indoor air quality. If you can’t, make sure you work in well-ventilated areas. Do your gluing beside an open window!

4. Compact fluorescent lights

If broken, these lights can release mercury into the air. Scary stuff, as it’s a serious neurotoxin. We know how brittle fluorescent lights are, so anyone with children or pregnant women should avoid them altogether.

5. New carpet

New carpet may be the sneakiest of all. If it’s new, it’s clean, right? Not exactly. New carpet is often treated with volatile compounds and should be aired out before installation.

There you have it. You probably know about the obvious threats – paint with lead, for example – but the aforementioned “sneaky” threats can harm your breathing and nervous system, too.

If you’re unsure about any potential indoor air quality threats, an environmental consulting firm can run a full inspection for you and tell you what’s what.

Environmental Services Group is a cutting edge environmental consulting firm based in Toronto and servicing both the Greater Toronto Area and Ontario. We provide state-of-the-art, industry-leading expertise in remedying environmental hazards such as mold, lead, asbestos and much more. Call 416-575-6111 or visit our website today for a pressure-free initial consultation. You’ll be glad you did!

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