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Types of Pollutants

Air Quality Basics

How healthy is the air quality in your home? As someone who has been impacted by lung disease, you know the quality of the air we breathe, both indoors and outdoors, plays a major role in your overall lung health. With Canadians spending approximately 90% of their time indoors, healthy indoor air quality does make a big difference.

According to the report, Life and Breath: Respiratory Disease in Canada, more than three million Canadians have lung disease with this number increasing as the general population gets older. Breathing clean air is important for everyone and can be vital to the health of those with lung disease.

Tobacco Smoke/Cannabis

Second hand smoke can cause cancer and heart disease, as well as worsen existing lung conditions such as asthma. Smoke gets everywhere inside a home, even if you only smoke in one part, and lasts a long time even after smoking has stopped.

If someone in your home smokes, make sure they only smoke outside until they are able to quit. This will greatly reduce the amount of smoke that everyone in the home is exposed to. Never smoke inside a home or vehicle, even if no one else is around at the time.

Air Cleaners

One of the most popular questions The Lung Association is asked is which air cleaner should they purchase for their home.

Before purchasing an air cleaner, residents should look for the source of the problem (e.g. cigarette smoke, mould, wet carpet). By removing the source of the problem directly, this will be much more effective than using an air cleaner to improve the home’s air quality.


Mould can be found anywhere in the home where there are high moisture levels and a lack of air movement. To limit mould growth, you need to control moisture and humidity and allow air to move through your home.

Fix any water leaks or water drainage problems around your home, reduce clutter for better air movement, open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when practical, and use exhaust fans when cooking or bathing.

To measure humidity levels, purchase a hygrometer from a hardware or electronics store to make sure indoor humidity levels are between 30-50%. If there are high humidity levels, use a dehumidifier and make sure it is cleaned and emptied regularly.

Household Products

Consumers can become overwhelmed by the number of household cleaning products available on the market. Many products contain toxic ingredients which can cause health problems when used. These include: shortness of breath, an allergic reaction, or dizziness. It is important to use any products with adequate ventilation (open windows, exhaust fans running). If any symptoms occur, stop using the product immediately and get some fresh air.

You can avoid using harmful products by making your own non-toxic cleaners. Key ingredients include baking soda, vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water to clean surfaces, drains and toilets.

Flooring & Carpeting

The type of flooring found in your home can impact the quality of the air indoors. This also includes the types of glues and sealing materials used to install flooring which can release chemical odours. When you have a choice for flooring, look for low-emitting materials and adhesives that are water-based.

Carpeting can hold onto bacteria, dust, dust mites, pet dander and mould. If possible, remove as much carpeting as you can. If you install carpeting, look for a low emission product to limit the amount of chemical odours released, and make sure it is cleaned properly and regularly.


Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is found in the soil and rock surrounding a home. It can get into your home through cracks in the foundation and build up to dangerous levels that can increase your risk of lung cancer over time. If you are a smoker, you are at an even greater risk of lung cancer if your home also has high radon levels.