The indoor air quality index plays an important role on our health

Canadians spend more time indoors than outdoors. We are at schools, workplaces, stores, and home. Because we spend so much time indoors, we have created Indoor Air Quality Index to become more concerned about the relationship between Indoor Air Quality and health.

When people think of air pollution, they usually do not think of the air that is inside. Whether it is in your home or your office, the quality of the air that you breathe can impact not only your family or your employee’s health but it can also effect productivity as well. Air that is trapped inside a building can contain can contain formaldehyde, fire retardants, radon, and even the chemicals from conventional cleaners.

Below you will find a list of the most common gases and particles that can be found in residential and commercial buildings across Canada.

  • 1

    Particulate Matter (PM2.5 - PM10)

    Particulate matter is the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in air many of which are hazardous. This complex mixture includes both organic and inorganic particles, such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.

  • 2

    Formaldehyde (HCHO)

    Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues, adhesives and more.

  • 3

    Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC)

    Volatile organic compounds, sometimes referred to as VOCs, are organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases. Along with carbon, they contain elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulfur or nitrogen.

  • 4

    Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

    Carbon dioxide is a gas that the human body produces naturally. Everyone is exposed, to some degree, to this gas every day. It occurs naturally in the atmosphere as part of animal metabolism, plant photosynthesis, decomposition, and combustion.

  • 5

    Carbon Monoxide (CO)

    In simple terms, CO is produced whenever a material burns. Homes with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages are more likely to have CO problems Common sources of CO in our homes include fuel-burning appliances and devices.

  • 6

    Radon (RN)

    Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon can enter a home through tiny openings in floors and foundations and build up to dangerous levels.

  • 7

    Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

    Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is one of a group of gases called nitrogen oxides (NOx). While all of these gases are harmful to human health and the environment, NO2 is of greater concern.

  • 8

    Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S)

    Hydrogen sulphide is part of the natural environment; the general population will have likely had some exposure to hydrogen sulphide. The release of hydrogen sulphide from a specific source does not always lead to human exposure. You can only be exposed to the gas when you come into direct contact with it by breathing it in, eating or drinking something contaminated with it, or when it touches your skin.

  • 9

    Ozone (O3)

    Ozone in the air we breathe can harm our health. People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers. In addition, people with certain genetic characteristics, and people with reduced intake of certain nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, are at greater risk from ozone exposure.

  • 10


    Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions.

Symptoms of poor indoor air quality

Can be very broad and depend on the contaminant. They can easily be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses such as allergies, stress, colds and influenza. If you notice relief from your symptoms soon after leaving a particular room or building, your symptoms may be caused by indoor air contaminants.

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