The majority of Canadians have experienced smog warnings within their neighborhood at some point. Smog refers to a combination of gases creating a haze in the air. Smog is not just limited to warm temperatures. In fact, winter smog is a serious issue due to stagnant air building up by increased car usage in colder weather.
According to Health Canada, smog is a large cause of premature deaths across the country as well as contributing to hospital visits. This form of air pollution causes breathing issues, pain, wheezing, infections, fatigue and sometimes death (due to large amounts emitted in a concentrated area).
Smog is mainly caused by outdoor emissions of pollutant gases and particles from transportation and industry plants.
While outdoor air quality is considered to be an important environmental/health issue, Health Canada has also focused on indoor air quality. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases produced from solids and liquids, which include household chemicals, office equipment, and vehicle emissions. Concentrations of VOC’s are usually higher indoors than outdoors.
The health effects are similar to open-air smog. Exposure may lead to respiratory problems, infections, unconsciousness and death. It is important to note that health risks are usually seen in extreme circumstances such as mixing chemicals or gas spills.
The following are methods are to take into consideration to make sure your indoor air quality remains safe.
- – Prevent smoke from entering your home. Take steps to safeguard your home against smoke, which contains chemicals relating to bad air quality.
- – Do not idle gas engines in enclosed areas. Avoid running your car for long periods of time where gases can enter the home.
- – Store chemicals and fuels properly. Take time to store fuels and harsh chemicals in sealed containers to avoid hazardous spills. Also, do not mix chemicals and read labels.
- – Ventilate areas. When using any product (paint, varnish, etc.) that can emit fumes, open windows.
- – Know your limits. If you are overly sensitive to products, start checking labels and also take steps to improve indoor air with proper ventilation.
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, it is worthwhile to see a general practitioner and perhaps higher a professional environmental testing facility to narrow down the exact cause of poor health.
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