Indoor air pollution can be five times worse than outdoor air pollution1, and since most of us spend over 90 percent of our time indoors, indoor air quality should be a greater concern when considering overall health. “In allergy practice, we often see indoor air exposures trigger symptoms of rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, and dermatitis,” says Dr. Michael Cyr, Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at McMaster University.

Everyday household objects like candles, carpets, and kitchen cabinets can emit harmful pollutants into your home. The ongoing shift towards energy efficiency means a better-sealed home, but also more static air and less air circulation. This allows the buildup of pet dander, fungi, mould and pollen, and also volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde and benzene.

“VOCs are a group of carbon-based compounds with a high vapour pressure at room temperature,” says Dr. Cyr. “They can be found in several manufactured products such as carpets and some furniture.” VOCs can act as irritants for people with asthma and allergies —  triggering symptoms, affecting sleep, and leading to a decreased quality of life.

Air purifiers can improve indoor air quality

The World Health Organization, U.S. Surgeon General, and Health Canada suggest reducing pollutant levels and improving air circulation to improve indoor air quality.

Most air purifiers filter, but not all clean and circulate the air in the large, open rooms typical of Canadian homes. An air purifier should monitor, and automatically react to, changes in indoor air quality while removing pollutants and gases from the air. To do this, the air purifier should have a sealed HEPA filter which is certified to capture 99.97 percent of microscopic particles like dust and a carbon filter to capture VOCs.  Asthma Canada, in partnership with Asthma Standards Limited, scientifically tests and identifies consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies. Those suffering from symptoms should consult the Asthma & Allergy FriendlyTM Certification Program and visit for a list of products suitable for people with asthma and allergies.

1 According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.