Chemical safety for buying, renting and maintaining your home

Protect your health from harmful chemicals and pollutants. Follow these tips to ensure your home is a healthy home.

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When you buy

Buying a home can be an exciting but stressful experience. But don't let stress mean you're cutting corners when it comes to your health. Follow this checklist to make sure your new home is as safe and healthy as possible.

Install new certified smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

Test existing CO alarms and replace, if necessary, according to manufacturer's instructions. Your home should have at least one CO alarm in hallways outside of bedrooms. Read more about smoke hazards and CO.

Test for radon

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Test your home for radon by picking up a do it your-self kit at your local home improvement store or hire a professional. Learn more about radon.

Check for asbestos

If you plan on doing any renovations, never attempt to remove asbestos yourself. Call a licensed professional.

Learn more about dealing with asbestos in the home.

Check for mould

Mould spores can have serious consequences for your health. Find and remove all sources of excess moisture and existing mould throughout your new home.

Learn more about how to beat mould and mould spores.

Check for lead

If your home was built before 1991, it may contain lead-based paint. Find out how to determine if your home contains lead-based paint and how you can reduce your risk.

Plumbing systems in homes built before 1975 may have lead pipe. If you are concerned that you have lead in your pipes, check with your municipality or water utility to see if there are lead service lines in your area.

When you rent

If you rent your home, there are things you can do to keep your home healthy. While all of the tips for buying a home apply to you, your landlord also has responsibilities for maintaining your unit. Depending on where you live, landlords may be obligated to install and maintain proper certified CO and smoke alarms. Make sure to report any sightings of mould or asbestos to your landlord immediately.

It's in your best interests to speak with your landlord if you have any concerns about possible health risks. Landlord and tenant issues fall under provincial or territorial jurisdiction.

Visit the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a renter.

Maintaining your home

You've bought or rented your new home and you have settled into your new place. You've tested for or removed substances like mould, asbestos, and radon. You've followed safety guidelines for your renovation projects, and your new house is starting to feel like a home. Now, you've just got to maintain your space.

Follow directions for using and disposing of household chemical products

Store and maintain your supplies properly.

Have a smoke-free home

Avoid smoke from cigarettes, cigars, cannabis, fireplaces, engines, and fuel-burning stoves. Keep your home well ventilated.

Learn more about the effects of smoking and particulate matter on your health.

Remove your shoes at the door

Don't track in harmful substances from outside. Keep a strict barrier between outside dirt and contaminants in your home.

Vacuum and dust regularly

Remove excess dust, which can cause allergic reactions. Considering using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter that traps small particles.

Wear protective equipment when you're cleaning or repairing

This may mean wearing goggles, masks, gloves, and other articles. There are different masks to protect you, depending on the product you are using. Read product guidelines and follow instructions to ensure you are properly protected.

Ventilate your home

Open windows when renovating. Ensure adequate ventilation when using products that may release chemicals into the air, such as when you are painting, varnishing, working with composite wood, or installing new carpets. Choose low-emission paints, varnishes, glues, wood furniture, and building products.

Replace air filters

If your heater uses air filters replace them regularly, according to manufacturer's instructions. If you are unsure where the filter is and what type of filter to purchase, you can usually call the company that serviced it last for assistance or search on-line.

Get serviced

Have furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves and water heaters serviced every year by a trained professional.

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