Indoor Air Quality

With Canadians spending more than 90% of their time indoors, much of it at home, the "healthiness" of the home is a growing concern. Poor indoor air can have a detrimental impact on people's well-being, from a general sense of feeling tired or "under the weather" to contributing to, or even triggering, allergies and asthma.

A home's air can be affected by many things: excessive moisture leading to mold growth; off-gassing from building materials, finishes and furniture; inadequate ventilation; and incomplete combustion gasses from heating systems. Our daily activities also have a big impact through moisture from cooking, bathing and laundering; off-gassing from household cleaners; hair, dander and litter dust from pets; and even emissions from equipment in a home office.

Today's new homes are built with indoor air quality in mind—to provide a more comfortable living space, with clean, fresh air and appropriate moisture levels to discourage development of molds.

  • Construction and design

Good indoor air quality begins with solid construction that prevents air leakage and moisture penetration. Eliminating dampness and cold spots not only increases the comfort of your home, but also inhibits mold growth. Exterior walls are well insulated with air barriers, vapour retarders and careful sealing. Energy-efficient windows help to prevent condensation. Open and spacious layouts promote good air movement throughout the home.

  • Ventilation

To maintain good indoor air quality, it is important to get rid of the stale or excess moist air generated in the course of everyday living. Every new home comes equipped with mechanical ventilation, such as exhaust fans in high-humidity areas of the house. Many new homes use a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), a whole-house ventilation system that continuously brings in fresh air from the outside to all living areas of your home and exhausts the stale air. To make sure the system is not simply bringing in problems from the outside, the incoming air is filtered. It is also pre-heated by the outgoing air to save energy—this is the "heat recovery" part of the system.

  • Heating and cooling systems

In a brand new home, systems are selected and installed to safeguard homeowner comfort and the freshness of the indoor air. Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems operate cleanly and safely. In many new homes, the furnace draws combustion air directly from the outside and vents exhaust gasses separately to avoid any risk of noxious fumes inside the home.

  • Building materials

By using low or no off-gassing building materials, new home builders can reduce pollutants or contaminants introduced into the home. These include non-solvent-based glues and grouts, water-based paints, formaldehyde-free cabinetry and pre-finished hardwood flooring.

  • Finishing products

Your builder can advise you on products that will help you maintain a fresh and comfortable indoor living environment. For instance, ceramic, stone and other hard-surface flooring doesn't trap dust and mites. Cabinets, countertops and sinks are easy to clean with mild, non-toxic cleaning products.

When you begin with the right home, it is easy to maintain a healthy indoor living environment. Talk with your new home builder about choices for your homes. For additional information, check Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Healthy Housing™ initiative.

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