Chemical safety and air quality in your car and garage

Follow these simple tips to stay safe while driving or working in your garage.

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In your car

We live in a vast country and spend much of our time on the road. You may not realize it but we are all exposed to a number of chemicals and air pollutants while we are in our cars. Exposure to pollutants while on the road depends on many factors including surrounding traffic, windows being open, and fan settings.

Get your car emissions tested by a professional

Vehicle exhaust contains hundreds of pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Keeping your vehicle and tires maintained helps to reduce your contribution to air pollution.

If you can, consider other modes of transportation or driving a low- or zero-emissions vehicle to reduce your contribution to air pollution.

Depending on where you live vehicle emissions testing may be required by law.

Replace your cabin air filter

It is important to replace your cabin air filter based on the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure it continues to be efficient.

A properly maintained cabin air filter will  help reduce how many outside air pollutants (such as fine particulate matter and traffic-related air pollution) get inside your car while driving.

Keep a smoke-free vehicle

Never smoke tobacco or cannabis inside your car. Many provinces have laws banning smoking in vehicles with children. Know the laws in your region and stay smoke-free.

In your garage

Attached garages are extensions of our homes. They're where we often store our vehicles, equipment (lawnmowers, snow blower) and household chemical products. They're where we start and finish projects. And they can often increase our exposure to pollutants.

When spending time in your garage, remember to keep safety your number-one priority. Cleaners, solvents, kerosene, gasoline, paints, ammonia, antifreeze, and other common chemicals require careful handling. Make sure the doors between your attached garage and your home are properly sealed.

Lock them up

Store any household chemical products and flammable materials in a storage cabinet or if possible a locked shed. Keep all other dangerous equipment out of reach, especially if you have children and pets.

Move household chemical products to a shed

Store all household chemical products, pesticides, fertilizers, engines, fuels, and fuel-burning equipment in a locked shed, separated from your home's ventilation system, if possible, rather than a garage attached to your home. This will prevent chemicals like benzene and other fumes from paint cans and gasoline from entering your home.

Store household chemical products in their original containers

Reseal all cans and bags firmly. Keep all items clearly labelled. Clean brushes, work clothes, and shoes immediately after working. Never 'sniff' a container to figure out what it contains.

Keep smoke and carbon monoxide out of the garage

Never smoke, operate a barbecue (BBQ), or run fuel-burning equipment (like a lawnmower or generator) in your garage.

Never leave your car idling in the garage. These rules apply even if you keep the garage door open.

Keep your workspace well-ventilated

Keep garage doors and windows open whenever you have work to do inside.

When in doubt, move your work outdoors and always wear appropriate safety equipment.

If you have an attached garage, consider installing an exhaust fan that vents outside to help reduce air pollutants in the garage.

Avoid exposure to asbestos

Some car parts may contain asbestos. You can be exposed when changing your brakes or replacing a transmission clutch.

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