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A breath of fresh air in the winter

Last updated: 12-31-2020

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A breath of fresh air in the winter

A breath of fresh air in the winter
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Dec 28, 2020  •   •  3 minute read
Opening your windows in the winter months can help circulate stagnant air out of your home. Photo by alexmak72427 /Getty Images
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Crack open your windows!
It’s a powerful, cheap and quick way to clear the air while you’re cooped up in a stuffy, stagnant house over the holidays and beyond.
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Sure it’s winter and, baby, it’s definitely cold outside, but consider what’s trapped alongside you: emissions from cleaning products and personal care products, lots of allergens, possibly airborne viral droplets, and more.
Growing evidence suggests that simply allowing fresh air to circulate inside confined spaces can help clear out the lingering dangerous droplets known as aerosols that cause infection. W.H.O. maintains research is still inconclusive that viral particles floating indoors are infectious.
The American Centers for Disease Control’s website says: “Avoid crowded indoor spaces and ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated by bringing in outdoor air as much as possible.”
An aggregate of studies worldwide shows that the odds of catching COVID are nearly 20 times higher indoors than if you’re outside.
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“The cleanest air on the planet is in the Arctic, so sure while it’s cold to open the windows at this time of year, just a few minutes, even every other day, can help refresh the air in your house,” says Toronto expert Luis Anacleto, of cleanfirst.ca , which offers indoor air quality testing among other remediation services.
He’s been getting calls from many COVID-concerned homeowners. Although his company specializes in commercial remediation, they have gone out to disinfect households after a case of COVID.
Winter months have considerably less fungal activity and dust than spring and fall, so inviting the air in is always a good idea, say Anacleto. “The goal is to remove the existing recycled air inside to the outside, so ideally if you open two windows or doors in opposite sides it will create negative pressure and some of the existing air will be thrown outside and new refreshed air will move in.”
In addition, he recommends running the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom more often than you normally would – “this will create negative pressure by exhausting the existing air out and forcing the house to bring new air from all cracks and existing openings.”
More than ever we have increased the levels of the invisible pollution inside of our homes, he adds, so err on the side of caution.
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A recently-released global air quality project by Dyson shows that there is an increase in indoor pollutants as a result of lockdown and more time spent at home. Data shows higher PM2.5 levels indoors in 10 of the 14 cities analyzed when compared with the post lockdown period.
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“Indoor sources of PM2.5 include particles released by the combustion process when cooking, pet dander, or disturbance of dust while cleaning,” reports the project.
“In the colder weather, our windows and doors are usually tightly closed, meaning ventilation of the air is limited,” reports Sam Railton, senior Dyson engineer. “By spending more time indoors, particularly during winter or lockdown, we may be increasing the level of indoor pollutants from our day-to-day activities – from cooking and cleaning to using personal care products like deodorant.”
Everyday products like hair spray, air fresheners, and colognes and perfumes pollute the air too. According to Anacleto, common invisible indoor polluters include emissions from daily-use chemicals, and allergens such as skin flakes, dander from pets, mold spores, bacteria, mite proteins, and cockroach proteins harbouring in dust.
Many household cleaners include chemicals that release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into your indoor air, which are linked to a broad range of health problems including headaches, nausea and respiratory irritation. Long-term exposure to some VOCs have been linked to cancer.
Anacleto suggests making your indoor air healthier by switching to clean, green cleaning products. Consider investing in a home air purifier from Molekule or a whole house air exchange systems like an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) or ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilation) by Venmar, which is a Canadian product.
Railton says that an air purifier with HEPA filtration can minimize the impact of indoor air pollution. “Look for a machine with fully sealed filters to capture gases and 99.95% of particle pollution, such as the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool fan heater.
“If dry air is a concern, consider using a combined purifier humidifier. With a double auto mode, the Dyson’s purifying humidifying fan will automatically improve air quality and humidity levels.”
No purifiers? “Refresh the air in your house just like you would in your car, open the windows when you can and is safe to do so,” adds Anacleto.
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