Indoor Air Quality News and Research

With the EPA naming indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to health, research on indoor air pollution has exploded and the subject is increasingly in the news. We will post the latest news and research on our home page and archive it here, so check back often!

Montreal's New Wood-Burning Bylaw
Now in Effect

wood-burning ban

Oct 5, 2018. In an effort to reduce harmful wood smoke pollution, Montreal has implemented a strict ban on wood burning, limiting the use of fireplaces and wood stoves to clean-burning models that emit less than 2.5 grams of fine particles per hr. Wood burning is the largest source of fine particulate pollution in Montreal after vehicle emissions, and is estimated to be responsible for more than 40,000 asthma attacks, 6000 cases of bronchitis and 900 premature deaths in the city per year. Source: Montreal Gazette

HEPA Purifiers Shown to Improve Home Air
Quality During Air Advisory Days


Sept 27th, 2018. Researchers examined the effectiveness of modestly-priced HEPA air purifiers vs. non-HEPA units in removing particulates from the homes of people with respiratory issues during air advisory days in Salt Lake City. HEPA filters were found to be vastly better in removing PM2.5 particulates, cutting overall levels by 55%. Pollutants filtering in from outside were also cut by 23%, leading researchers to conclude that HEPA units do help to reduce air pollution exposure risks. Source: News Medical

Respiratory Disease in Cats Linked to IAQ


Sept 14, 2018. A ground-breaking new study on cats and dogs with respiratory diseases has linked high household levels of PM2.5 particles with respiratory issues in cats. Dogs were found to be much less affected by ambient air pollutants in their homes, with physical factors such as age, body weight and overall physical condition more likely to be risk factors for respiratory disease. However, the researchers found that several homes of dogs with respiratory issues had "extreme" PM2.5 levels, warranting further study. Source: American Veterinarian

Air Pollutants Cause Heart Structural Changes


Aug 23, 2018. Research coming out of the UK shows that exposure to ambient levels of air pollution can lead to major structural changes in the heart, similar to those seen in the early stages of heart failure. More specifically, the study showed that those who lived close to busy roads developed enlarged ventricles in the heart. For every extra 1 ug/m3 of PM2.5 exposure and 10 ug/m3 of N02 exposure, the heart was enlarged by 1%. According to the World Health Organization, there are no safe limits for PM2.5 exposure. Source: EurekAlert

PM2.5 Air Pollution Affects Fetal Development

pregnant mother

July 19, 2018. An unprecedented John Hopkins University study has shown that PM2.5 air pollutants can cross the placental barrier in pregnancy and affect fetal development. The study showed that children exposed to higher levels of fine particulate pollution in the womb in the third trimester had a 61% increased risk of developing high blood pressure in childhood, potentially leading to cardiovascular disease later as an adult. This was true regardless of factors such as birth weight, maternal smoking and the mother's prior exposure to air pollutants. Source: Science News

Harmful Microplastics in Your Indoor Air

microplastics in home air

June 14, 2018. The latest research suggests that the harmful microplastics found in our bodies come not only from drinking out of plastic bottles and eating polluted seafood, but from breathing indoor air. The shearing of fibres from synthetic clothing/furniture and the fragmentation of plastic bags, containers, toys, etc, due to friction, create most of the airborne microplastics in our homes. When breathed in, these particulates are small enough to become lodged in our lungs where they can cause serious respiratory and cardiac issues down the road. Source: The Print

School Maintenance Cuts May be Putting Children in Danger

PM2.5 particles linked with lung infections

May 21, 2018. A recent investigation in Connecticut showed that inadequate school maintenance budgets may be affecting air quality in public schools. An examination of years of school records in the state showed that over 30% of public schools had a deficiency in school air quality. Moreover, five years later, 13% of these identified issues had still not been fixed. The air quality issues included poor ventilation, aging HVAC systems, deteriorating ceiling tiles and mold growth due to leaky roofs. Source: NBC

Short Exposures to PM2.5 Pollution Linked to Lung Infections in Children

PM2.5 particles linked with lung infections

May 1, 2018. Yet another study has surfaced linking fine PM2.5 particulate pollutants with lung disease, this one involving over 100,000 people. A key focus of the study was on very young children, including newborns and toddlers, with spikes in measured PM2.5 levels leading to increased medical visits for respiratory infections in this group. PM2.5 pollution is a potential threat to anyone living near a major roadway or industrial area, with outdoor pollutants readily seeping indoors. Source: Clean Technica

1 in 4 Americans Now Suffer From Chemical Sensitivities

burners contribute to poor indoor air

April 9, 2018. The prevalence of chemical sensitivities has risen more than 200% over the last decade, with 1 in 4 people now reporting sensitivities to common chemicals such as air fresheners, detergents, fragrances, etc. Over half of those with sensitivities have been formally diagnosed with MCS, experiencing severely disabling effects that have led to lost jobs or workdays. Researchers liken MCS sufferers to human canaries in that they react earlier and more severely to minute levels of chemicals. Source: UPI

Pollution in the Kitchen: Cooking Contributes
to Poor Indoor Air Quality

burners contribute to poor indoor air

March 22, 2018. According to an in-home study by Berkeley Lab, frying and cooking at high temperatures can introduce harmful contaminants into the air. Gas burners were found to produce nitrogen dioxide in amounts that in some cases exceeded federal health standards for outdoor air, while electric burners were shown to produce dangerous ultra-fine particles and PAHs. Researchers urge the consistent use of range hoods and exhaust fans to safeguard the health of your family when cooking. Source: The Scope

Household Products As Bad as Cars for
VOC Emissions

household cleansers and VOCs

March 1, 2018. New research out of the US has determined that common household products such as cleansers, hair spray, cosmetics, air fresheners and paint release the same quantity of toxic VOCs into the outdoor air as cars do. Given that the air in a typical home contains 7 times the amount of VOCs as outdoor air does, this is cause for concern. On the bright side, these findings will likely put greater pressure on the government to increase regulation on chemicals used in consumer products. Source: The Atlantic

Exposure to Air Pollution May be Linked
to Type 2 Diabetes

air pollution and diabetes

Feb 13, 2018. While it is well-established that air pollution is linked to health issues such as cardiovascular disease, birth defects, and cancer, there is now growing evidence that exposure to both outdoor and indoor air pollutants can lead to greater insulin sensitivity, higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Research also suggests that chronic exposure to air pollutants may act as an onset trigger for those genetically predisposed to Type 1 Diabetes. Source: Diabetes Council

Phthalates May be Inhaled as Well as

phthalates in indoor air

Jan 25, 2018. Phthalates are toxic chemicals used ubiquitously in household products, including vinyl flooring, household cleaners and personal care products. Although the average person’s greatest exposure to phthalates is through eating food packaged in plastic, phthalate vapours and particles are also in the air where they can be inhaled. Long-term effects of phthalate exposure include damage to the reproductive system, disrupted hormone cycles and sexual dysfunction. Source: Reports HealthCare

Feeling Sick or Tired? It May Be Your
New Furniture

new furniture may make you sick

Jan 5, 2018. A major source of indoor air pollution is off-gassing from new furnishings, with carpets, cabinets and particleboard furniture being the worst offenders. In fact, 4 of the top 10 chemicals emitted by furniture are classified as acute respiratory irritants or probable carcinogens. While manufacturers are not forced to disclose the hazardous chemicals used in their products, low-emission furniture certified by testing programs such as Greenguard can help consumers choose wisely. Source: Washington Post

Living Near A Busy Road Can Increase Risk of Asthma in Adults

road pollution can cause asthma

Dec 18, 2017. New research coming out of Australia has scientists warning people about the hazards of living near a busy road. The study shows that middle-aged adults living within 200m of a major road have a 50% higher risk of developing asthma and weak lung function. Australia has relatively low levels of NO2 and other traffic pollutants, suggesting that even air pollution levels regarded as “safe” can have negative health effects. Source: Medical Xpress

Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollutants Could Accelerate Aging

air quality affects aging

Dec 1, 2017. A recent study on over 600 women showed that exposure to high levels of PM2.5 air pollutants during pregnancy resulted in newborns with shortened telomere lengths in placental tissue. Telomere length is used as a marker for biological age, with shorter lengths at birth believed to be associated with reduced life expectancy. This supports previous research linking poor air quality with faster aging in adult cells. Source: Medical News Bulletin

Submicron Oil Droplets from Frying Food May Affect Indoor Air Quality

oil droplets and air quality

Nov 20, 2017. A research team from Texas has determined that frying food in hot oil (e.g., stir-frying or deep-frying) can release an explosion of tiny oil droplets that are small enough to be inhaled. The explosive reaction occurs when even a single water droplet from the food comes in contact with the hot oil. The group is now studying the extent to which these cooking-based aerosols contribute to indoor air pollution in poorly ventilated kitchens. Source: Science Daily

Toxic Chemicals Found in Green Housing Point to Need for Better Standards

toxic chemicals in renovated housing

Oct 20, 2017. Researchers in Boston tested public housing units that were newly renovated according to green building standards for over 100 different toxic chemicals. Results indicated the presence of harmful levels of chemicals such as flame retardants, solvents used in paint/floor finishes and formaldehyde. Several chemicals that have been long banned for health reasons (e.g., pesticides) were also detected in some units. Source: Science Daily

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