Infographic: Protecting your indoor air from outdoor pollutants

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Organization: Health Canada

Date published: November 2020

When outdoor air quality is poor, Health Canada recommends that individuals, particularly children, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions remain indoors as much as possible. Ensuring good indoor air quality is especially important during periods of poor outdoor air quality.

Strategies to reduce levels of pollutants indoors include the following

  • Do not smoke indoors.
  • When possible, limit the use of any combustion source, such as incense, candles, and wood stoves. Consider choosing a low-emission wood stove.
  • Make sure you use cleaning products properly. Some may emit higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms near bedrooms, and preferably one on each floor.
  • Maintain humidity levels between 35 and 50%.
  • Avoid using ozone generators, as exposure to ozone can be harmful to your health.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that traps small particles.
  • Portable HEPA filtration units may also reduce indoor particulate levels.

These are some strategies to reduce infiltration of outdoor air pollutants

  • Keep windows and doors closed, and use air conditioning, if required.
  • Properly seal windows and doors with weather stripping.
  • Set your ventilation system to recirculate when the outdoor air is poor, and bring in fresh air when the outdoor air has improved. Install a high quality air filter.

How do I know if the outdoor air quality is poor?

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) provides local and real-time information in regards to the quality of outdoor air, and recommends specific advice based on the health risk posed by air pollution levels. Further information on the AQHI can be found at

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