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Environmental & Occupational Hygiene Services

Designated Substance Survey

What is a DSS?

  • Designated substances and other potential hazardous materials must be identified prior to engaging in any renovation or demolition activities that may potentially disturb these dangerous materials.
  • In order to properly dispose of hazardous materials and mitigate unnecessary exposure to workers and building occupants the DSS is performed.
  • The current list of designated substances recognized under the Ontario Ministry of Labour regulations include the following substances:
    • Acrylonitrile
    • Arsenic
    • Asbestos
    • Benzene
    • Coke oven emissions
    • Ethylene oxide
    • Isocyanates
    • Lead
    • Mercury
    • Silica
    • Vinyl chloride
  • Commonly found in materials used for the construction of homes, commercial, and industrial buildings. The following designated substances are often identified in most buildings:
    • Asbestos –May be present in building materials;
    • Lead – May be present in paint coatings, solder, bell & spigot pipe fittings, etc.;
    • Mercury – May be present in electrical switches, relays, thermometers, pressure gauge's, etc.
    • Silica – May be present in stone, concrete, masonry, etc.

Why is a DSS important?

  • Without a DSS, and without proper precautions to protect workers, significant delays in construction and building renovation projects may result; which translates into losses in time and money.
  • The primary purpose of the Occupational Health and Safety Act [OHSA] regulations are to protect workers from any health or safety hazards when on the job.
  • OHSA requires “project management” to perform a formal assessment to determine whether there are any “designated substances” present on the worksite.
    • Asbestos Testing – The Law Requires It!
  • Main routes of exposure for designated substances include:
    • Skin contact (or mucosa)
    • Inhalation (affecting the lungs and respiratory tract)
    • Ingestion

Health Effects

  • Occupational diseases are disorders of health that result from conditions in the workplace, usually from exposure to physical, chemical and psychological hazards.
  • Work related diseases result from or are made worse by working conditions. The field of occupational health involves both the prevention and management of occupational diseases and improving general work conditions.
  • Adverse effects include:
    • Psychological disorders
    • Musculoskeletal injuries and diseases
    • Lung disease
    • Various types of Cancer
    • Traumatic injuries
    • Occupational cardiovascular disease
    • Reproductive disorders
    • Neurotoxic disorders
  • Chemical hazards can cause skin to be destroyed by strong acids, alkalis, high concentrations of formaldehyde, ammonia, chromic acid and others.
  • Some chemicals may cause damage through continued exposure over time; examples include detergents, carbon tetrachloride, kerosene, and turpentine.
  • Metals, such as beryllium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gold, silver and zinc can produce skin reactions.
  • Skin effects include:
    • irritant and allergic contact dermatitis
    • folliculitis,
    • oil acne (blocked hair follicles by dusts and grease)
    • neoplastic lesions in the form of skin cancers, papillomas, and keratoses
  • Canada saw 904 workplace deaths in 2016. On average, Canadians work 230 days per year, this means there were nearly four work-related deaths per working day in this country. (Reference: *Fatalities accepted in 2014-2016 according to “Number of Fatalities, by Jurisdiction 1993-2016” summary table, statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada & “Five Deaths a day: Workplace Fatalities in Canada, 1993-2005.” Centre for the Study of Living Standards)
  • There is a wide range of occupational conditions from lung disease resulting in asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, chronic reduction in lung function and lipid pneumonias, to increased risk of pancreas, larynx, rectum, skin, bladder, scrotum cancer.
  • The appearance of a cancer is dependent on the time elapsed and exposure, often manifesting over a course of 20+ years.


  • GEP will ensure that you comply with government regulations, provincially, federally and locally.
    Our Services Include:
    • Designated Substance Surveying
    • Hazard Control/Safe Work Programs
    • Building materials sampling, investigation and identification
    • Air Sampling
    • Tendering/Managing Contracts
    • Abatement Consultation
    • Expert Witness Services
    • Asbestos Testing – *The Law Requires It!
  • Asbestos is a Designated Substance under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Ontario Regulation 278/05 – Designated Substance — Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations; January 2011)
  • Commercial property owners and residential complexes with 6 or more individual units along with any property owner planning renovations have certain responsibilities with the possibility of asbestos being on their properties.
  • New regulations may be found on the ministry website.
  • Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what type of testing you might need to achieve your goals.


What is Mould?

  • Moulds are a type of fungus found in many environments, both outdoor and indoor.
  • Many species of mould can grow indoors when given the appropriate conditions (moisture, substrate and temperature).
  • Moulds release spores as part of their reproductive cycle.
  • Mould spores are able to spread through the air and land on surfaces within a home, commercial workplace, or construction environment and given sufficient moisture is present, the spores may germinate and form mould colonies.
  • Some mould species commonly found growing indoors include
    • Penicillium
    • Stachybotrys (also known as black mould)
    • Alternaria
    • Cladosporium.
  • Mould is a living organism often growing indoors and may have significant negative effects on your health.
  • Mould may be black, white or almost any colour.
  • Mould resembles a stain or smudge and may often smell musty.
  • A mould and water assessment are recommended when
    • Planning to purchase property.
    • Planning renovations, and demolitions
    • water damage is present or suspected
    • flooding has occurred
    • health concerns with symptoms consistent with Mould growth are present

What causes Mould? And What does Mould do?

  • Mould can spread through direct contact or via airborne “mould spores”. The longer the time in the right conditions, the higher the chances for health risks.
  • Spores released into the air, are small enough to be inhaled, which may infiltrate the body and there they can significantly impact your health.
  • Mould grows as a result of excess stagnant moisture or humidity.
  • Mould growth is highly affected by extreme temperatures.
  • Mould is able to grow on any organic surfaces.
  • Mould is most prevalent when relative humidity exceeds 60%.
  • Excess moisture is the primary factor for mould growth in indoor environments.
  • Common sources of moisture include:
    • pipe or roof leaks
    • excess moisture/steam from showers and baths;
    • condensation from poor insulation
    • cracked foundations
    • flooding.
  • Some of the different materials mould may thrive on include:
    • drywall,
    • wood (window sills, attics, framings, sheathing, support beams, subfloors)
    • insulation,
    • paper or cardboard,
    • carpeting,
    • furniture.
  • Mould spores may originate from air through natural drafts, fans, or the HVAC systems.
  • Negative effects on your home or business range from cosmetic effects such as staining, smudging, and visible mould growth; to serious structural effects from the decomposition of wooden structural components of the building.
  • A mould assessment can help identify areas of your home or business with active mould growth that may be having a negative health, cosmetic or structural effects.

Health effects

  • Health symptoms of mould:
    • Mould is very dangerous and can be extremely harmful to your health.
  • People respond to mould in different ways, depending upon the amount of exposure and the person’s overall health.
  • Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of mould than others.
  • This includes children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system or other medical condition(s), such as asthma, severe allergies or other respiratory conditions.
  • Inhalation of mould spores may cause:
    • Eye irritation
    • nose and throat irritation
    • respiratory system compromise
    • coughing,
    • phlegm production,
    • wheezing
    • shortness of breath;
    • exacerbating pre-existing asthma
    • allergic reactions
  • Some mould species release potentially harmful compounds known as mycotoxins


  • When you book a mould test with GEP, our representative will work with you to identify areas of concern and the potential extent of the problem.
  • GEP will complete a comprehensive visual examination of your business, commercial property, or home to identify any visible active mould growth, as well as areas of moisture intrusion that may facilitate mould growth.
  • GEP will take air samples using industry leading equipment to assess the air for the presence of mould spores and any mycotoxins; assess relative humidity and if necessary collect bulk samples for further analysis which will be analyzed by third-party, accredited laboratories that specialize in environmental testing, to provide an ethical and truth worthy service.
  • GEP will provide documentation that outlines in detail the work performed, as well as a laboratory report with interpretations of the results of the air and/or bulk samples along with any further solutions/steps necessary to follow up on.
  • GEP has a standard “Mould Assessment” procedure, however because every situation is unique, GEP will tailor every inspection to best address your needs.
  • Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what is the most effective type of testing you need to achieve your goals.

Is it safe to eat food that has gone mouldy?

Hard cheeses yes. Bread, yogurt, and soft cheeses no. Hard cheese has low moisture content and is very dense which prevents the mould from growing through and into parts you cannot see.

Moulds can survive freezing (in the fridge), salty, sugary, and acidic environments.

Some general guidelines from the US Food Safety and Inspection Service on responding to mould on food are as follows:

Throw away all of these foods if mouldy:

  • Luncheon meat, bacon, and hot dogs (Green bin)
  • Yogurt, sour cream and soft cheese (Green bin)
  • Soft fruits and vegetables (Composter)
  • Bread (Green bin)
  • Baked goods (Green bin)
  • Peanut butter and legumes (Composter)
  • Nuts (Green bin)
  • Jams and jellies (Green bin).

These foods can be saved if a little mouldy:

  • Hard salami – scrub mould from the surface.
  • Hard cheese – cut off at least an inch around and below the mould. Don't let the knife touch the mould and recover the cheese with fresh wrap.
  • Firm fruit and vegetables – small mould spots can be cut off.


Why is a Noise Assessment important?

  • Ontario Ministry of Labour recognizes that hearing loss can occur at exposures below 85 dBA for 8 hours and recommends hearing protection and a comprehensive hearing conservation program for workers exposed to sound levels of 85 dBA or greater.
  • It is also valuable to consider that when the noise control measures reduce employee exposures below the action level (or better), the other of the hearing conservation program elements including audiometry, training, hearing protection, recording keeping, and all associated ongoing administrative costs can be saved, which often fully offset the initial noise control costs.

Health effects

  • Occupational deafness has been shown that workers have experienced excessive hearing loss in many occupations associated with noise.
  • Noise-induced loss of hearing is an irreversible, exposure to noise produces hearing loss greater than that resulting from the natural aging process.
  • This noise-induced loss is caused by damage to nerve cells of the inner ear (cochlea). Typically, it begins to develop at 4000 or 6000 Hz (the hearing range is 20 Hz to 20000 Hz) and spreads to lower and higher frequencies.
  • Both NIOSH, in its Criteria for a Recommended Standard, and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), in their Threshold Limit Values (TLVs), propose an exposure limit of 85 dBA for 8 hours.
  • The degree of an intruding unwanted noise depends essentially on time fluctuations of the noise and three things:
    1. The amount and nature of the intruding noise,
    2. The amount of background noise already present before the intruding noise occurred and
    3. The nature of the working or living activity of the people occupying the area in which the noise is heard.


  • Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what is the most effective type of testing you need to achieve your goals.
  • All measurements are completed with windscreens installed on the real-time noise and sound level measurements are completed using industry recognized Sound level measurement instruments to meet Ontario Ministry of Labour noise compliance standards.

Indoor Air Quality

What is IAQ testing?

  • Indoor concentrations of some pollutants have increased in recent decades due to factors such as energy-efficient building construction and increased use of synthetic building materials, furnishings, personal care products, pesticides, and household cleaners.
  • The indoor air concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor air.
  • IAQ testing determines the amount of pollutants in the environment and identifies what is present and possibly detrimental to the health of the occupants.

Why is IAQ testing important?

  • Amendments to the Criminal Code set out in Bill C-45 (Health & Safety Negligence) came into effect March 31, 2004. Not providing, ensuring and investigating the status of indoor air quality in a workplace can result in criminal charges against the directors of a corporation, organization as well as sole proprietors and individuals.
  • Other major problems with IAQ, such as, sick staff, chronic fatigue, and absenteeism leads to reduced productivity and employee performance, which also affect bottom line profits.

What causes Poor IAQ?

  • On average people spend over 90 percent of our lives indoors. Consequently, everything that is in our indoor air, including pollutants, allergens, VOCs, toxins–and even mould spores may be breathed in.
  • Breathing in these harmful contaminants over an extended period of time can impact a persons life and well being.
  • Sources of poor IAQ include:
    • Products of combustion such as carbon monoxide
    • Particulate matter
    • Substances of natural origin such as radon
    • Biological agents such as moulds,
    • Various volatile organic compounds
    • Inappropriate ventilation

Health effects

  • The potential impact of indoor air quality on human health include symptoms:
    • irritation of the eyes, nose or throat,
    • headaches,
    • dizziness,
    • fatigue or respiratory diseases.
  • Airborne Contaminates Include:
    • Mould – Symptoms including but not limited to: runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, dry skin, recurring colds, dry mouth, nausea, flu symptoms, difficulty breathing, excessive sneezing, consistent coughing & phlegm build-up, constant headaches & migraines, sinus infection, asthma attack, memory loss, bleeding lungs, death.
    • CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) – Symptoms include: rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, clumsiness, emotional upsets, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, collapse, convulsions, coma, organ failure and death.
    • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) – Symptoms and affected parts include: eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination; damage to liver, kidney, central nervous system, conjunctival irritation, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, and dizziness.
    • CO (Carbon Monoxide) – Can cause sudden illness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, loss of consciousness and death.
    • Odour – Typically not a health hazard, however, they may interfere with Quality of life due to the lingering smell.
    • Radon – Over 25,000 people die in North America as a result of Radon each year. Health Canada reported that “16% of lung cancers deaths in Canada are attributable to radon exposure.


  • GEP will consult with you to identify what the assessment will include personalized to each particular case and it needs.
  • Commonly, an indoor air quality consultation includes the collection of air samples, the determination of air flow, and indoor moisture levels.
  • A detailed report of findings from a third-party laboratory, will include remediation recommendations to resolve the problem.
  • Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what is the most effective type of testing you need to achieve your goals.

Asbestos Survey

What is Asbestos?

  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral which has been used in construction for its physical properties and resistance to heat since the 1950s.
  • It is extremely hard to visually identify because it is well concealed within various building products.

Why is Asbestos Testing important?

  • Asbestos Testing- The law requires it:
    • Asbestos is a Designated Substance under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Ontario Regulation 278/05 – Designated Substance — Asbestos on Construction Projects and In Buildings and Repair Operations; January 2011).
    • Owners of commercial properties and residential complexes with 6 or more individual units along with any property owner planning renovations have certain responsibilities when it comes to the potential presence of asbestos on their properties. The new regulations can be found on the Ministry website.

What causes Asbestos to be dangerous?

  • Inhalation of asbestos can cause serious and fatal illnesses
  • Asbestos fibres can become airborne when Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACMs) are damaged or disturbed.
  • Once airborne and circulating in the air, they are easily be inhaled into the lungs and result in devastating health problems such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and other lung cancers.
  • It is during construction, removal and demolition that Asbestos is commonly disturbed.
  • If the residence or building was built before the mid-1980s, Asbestos testing must be performed before a project starts.
  • There is no “safe level” of exposure.

Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what is the most effective type of testing you need to achieve your goals.

Odour Migration Assessments (Using Tracer Gas):

What is a Odour Assessment?

Understanding ventilation can be very complex, especially when there is the need to determine its effectiveness to dilute and remove pollutants and how that may relate to indoor environmental quality and the exposure of building occupants to contaminants within that environment. Using tracer gas techniques to understand exhaust flows and airflow patterns in newly developed and existing facilities, one can investigate the origin and the likely migration patterns for chemical vapours, and their attendant odours that can occur within a space.

In general, a tracer gas test involves the use of a non-toxic, easily detectable tracer as a surrogate to mimic the source of a gas or vapour which may be irritating, uncomfortable or toxic to building occupants.

To determine the source of an odour migration problem, gas containing tracer is injected at a low exit velocity into a likely odour source region. Air samples are obtained from selected locations at timed intervals and analyzed for the presence or absence of tracer gas.
The tracer gas arrival time at each location provides information on the speed of odour migration, while the actual location and concentration magnitude provide information about odour movement pathways and probable concentrations at measured locations.
Assessing odour migration patterns during a given time period will allow our clients to diagnose deficiencies of critical engineering control mechanisms and produce sets of flowrate data that can be used to evaluate the acceptability of current building components and to devise effective modifications to the control strategies if necessary. A simple tracer gas test can show the average travel time for air through the exhaust system as a result of the size, length and number of exhaust routes.

Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine if this method can assist you in achieve your goals.

Work Place Hazard Assessments [As Per Ministry of Labour Standards]

What is a Workplace Hazard Assessment?

‘Prevention through Design™’ One of the best ways to prevent and control occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities is to “design out” or minimize hazards and risks early in the design process, design out hazards and minimize risks

  • An initial assessment is required for every workplace to which the regulation applies.
  • Further assessments must be carried out whenever there is a change in any process involving the use, handling or storage of the designated substance that may result in a significant exposure of the employee to the substance.
  • An occupational exposure assessment strategy follows a simple strategy that is suitable for evaluating many environments, workforces, and agents. The outcomes of performing the related steps provide answers to the following questions.
    • What are the potential exposures?
    • Who is exposed and at what level?
    • Which groups require priority in a monitoring campaign?
    • Do sampling results indicate that the risk is acceptably low?

Why are Workplace Hazard Assessments important?

  • The purpose of a Workplace Hazard Assessments to recognize, evaluate, and control potential workplace hazards so that all employees are assured a safe and healthy occupational environment.
  • Evaluation of workplaces requires a logical workplace exposure assessment strategy to meet industrial hygiene and other occupational health resources on those work situations with the greatest potential for adverse health effects.


  • GEP’s workplace exposure assessment will provide guidance and determine the best course of actions and recommend control strategies suited to the workplace environment.
  • Commonly GEP will include the following:
    • Engineering controls
    • Results of monitoring
    • Likelihood of exposure
  • As a guide to the evaluation of the hazards posed workers by exposures, it is common to employ evaluation criteria for the assessment of a number of chemical and physical agents.
  • The primary sources of environmental criteria for the workplace are the following:
    1. The Ontario Ministry of Labour - Time-Weighted Average Exposure Values (TWAEVs),
    2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs),
    3. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) criteria Documents and Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs),
    4. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs®).
  • Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what is the most effective type of testing you need to achieve your goals.


What is LEED?

  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED) is a building rating system that is recognized as the international mark of excellence for green buildings in over 160 countries.

What benefits are gained?

  • LEED recognizes that sustainability should be front and center of all buildings – in their design, construction and operation.
  • Green buildings create a healthier indoor environment for occupants through better indoor air quality, less harmful products, and more natural daylight.
  • Reduction in waste, conservation of energy, decrease in water consumption, and innovation drive are other benefits.
  • Bottom line positive effects and boost in productivity.


  • GEP can assist you in meeting the new LEED v4 standard. Some of the major changes include:
    • To qualify for LEED v4 Indoor Air Quality (EQ) Credit, building owners must meet a new set of criteria, including a comprehensive list of specific VOCs that need to be quantified in addition to total VOCs.
    • Labs will no longer be allowed to analyze for formaldehyde using TO15 evacuated canisters or TO17 (thermal desorption tubes)
    • 4-PCH is no longer required
    • The IEQ credit is now worth 2 points
    • GEP will provide the necessary equipment, testing capabilities and analytical expertise in order to help define your testing needs and assist with the implementation of your LEED IEQ management plan.
  • Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what is the most effective type of testing you need to achieve your goals.

Radon Testing

What is Radon?

  • Radon is a harmful ionizing radiation, or gas that is radioactive, colourless, and odourless. Radon is capable of causing cancer and cellular damage.
  • Radon is produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and groundwater or by the radioactive decay of the element Radium.

Why is Radon Testing important?

Radon House Image

  • Radon commonly enters a structure from the soil surrounding it via cracks in the foundation, sump pumps, cracks in walls, or simply diffusing through the foundation if there is a difference in air pressure between a structure’s basement or crawlspace and the surrounding soil.
  • Due to central ventilation systems, Radon can be dispersed throughout the entire home or office.
  • Every building has some Radon. It is essential to determine if the levels are elevated to the point of being a substantial health risk, regardless of the age of the structure.
  • Radon may also enter the vicinity via showers and various plumbing lines.
  • If Radon is present in the air, water and soil testing is strongly recommended.
  • Radon can accumulate in parts of the structure through drafts or through HVAC systems, where it undergoes radioactive decay, turning into solid Radon Decay Products. This enables the solid Radon Decay to potentially stick to dust, aerosols or smoke, which poses a danger if inhaled.

Health effects

  • Risk of developing lung cancer from Radon depends on the concentration and length of exposure to Radon in the air you breathe.
  • When inhaled, the harmful ionizing radiation can lead to DNA damage in the cells of the lungs, leading to lung cancer.
  • There is no “safe” level of radon gas exposure -even at radon concentrations deemed acceptable for homes by the Environmental Protection Agency, between 2 and 7 out of every 1000 non-smokers would get lung cancer as a result of radon exposure.
  • The EPA, WHO, and Health Canada have confirmed that Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in North America.
  • Over 25,000 people die in North America from Radon exposure.
  • Health Canada reported that “16% of lung cancers deaths in Canada are attributable to radon exposure.”
  • Significant concentration of Radon is equivalent to smoking 1.5 packs of cigarettes per day.


Testing procedure includes the following:

  • To accurately assess Radon levels is to start with a short-term test to establish current levels. On site visits, monitoring and assessments performed by a third-party laboratory will be conducted.
  • If elevated levels are apparent GEP will provide you with the steps that should be taken to remediate and mitigate the situation to standards deemed acceptable by the EPA.
  • Contact GEP to schedule a free consultation to determine what type of contaminants are of concern and what is the most effective type of testing you need to achieve your goals.

Climate change and the indoor environment

Though we tend to think of climate change as simply an outdoor issue, it is also important to consider how it may affect our indoor environment. The impact of climate change on the indoor environment can take several paths. One of the larger issues would be a need to pay closer attention to moisture control in the built environment due to increased flooding and more extreme weather. In addition, demand for HVAC is expected to increase due to rising outdoor temperature, rising concentration of outdoor allergens, and tighter buildings. Tighter buildings will be one of the main responses to climate change as attempts are made to make the indoor environment more comfortable.

Weatherization programs, which include activities intended to make buildings more energy efficient through avenues such as window sealing to prevent air leakage and better control of indoor temperature, have the potential to cause unintended consequences.

Consideration of cleaning products and disinfection effects on tighter buildings is also key in assessing indoor air quality. Tighter buildings may lead to an increase in indoor VOC concentrations and irritants if cleaning products remain inside. In addition, tighter buildings may create areas more conducive to condensation and other moisture related phenomena creating an environment which is more favourable for mould and bacteria.

There are several topics which home owners, building owners, consultants, health professionals and others should focus on:

  • Moisture control in the built environment
  • Designing HVAC systems for offices and homes
  • Designing radon remediation systems
  • Energy efficient power generation
  • Prevention by design
  • IAQ components of building certification programs
  • Public Transportation
  • Weatherization
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Green purchasing
  • Ventilation maintenance
  • Mould abatement and moisture control
  • Energy efficient power maintenance
  • Integrated pest management
  • Targeted public health training
  • Recognition of environment or occupational illness associated with the built environment

Basement Flooding - Prevention Tips

  • Flood prevention is especially important in warm weather months when sudden, severe storms can greatly increase the risk of a flooded basement.
  • Disconnect downspouts that empty into the City sewer system to direct the rainwater to your lawn and garden or into a rain barrel.
  • Clear eaves trough and downspouts of debris
  • Install a back-water valve and a basement sump pump
  • Consider using soft-surface landscaping such as porous pavement, shrubs, ...
  • Ensure the ground is sloping away from your home's foundation walls
  • Seal window wells and fix leaks in the basement walls around windows
  • Increase the amount of green space on your property to help absorb rainwater, protecting your basement and local waterways from excess storm water
  • Homeowners in Toronto can also take advantage of the City subsidies - of up to $3,200 per property to assist with the cost of installing certain flood protection devices (other municipalities may have similar programs).

Lead, Mercury, and Cadmium

These heavy metals have long been known to cause ecological and health problems, even at very low levels. Their hormone disrupting effects are just one more very good reason to try to reduce exposure.

Lead is used in glazes, lead crystal, brass plumbing fixtures, solder, food cans, lead batteries and as a stabilizer for PVC (vinyl) plastics. The ban on leaded gasoline reduced lead exposure significantly, but lead persists from industrial activity, garbage incineration from the years before unleaded gasoline, and other sources. Experts agree that the greatest ongoing exposure to lead comes from house dust, outside dirt, and drinking water. But acute exposures should also be carefully avoided. For example, old paint may be lead-based, so chipping and stripping such paint can pose a hazard.

Information gathered from World Wildlife Fund Canada publication.

Product Selection

What you’re using to clean around the house could be bad for your indoor air quality. Traditional cleaners contain harmful volatile organic compounds and other potentially damaging ingredients.

Health Canada does not recommend using anti-bacterial products in your home. According to the Canadian Medical Association the ingredient Triclosan, found in many anti-bacterial soaps, will cause bacteria to develop resistance pathways that not only reduce the efficacy of Triclosan, but also antibiotic therapy. Resistance may render the use of these antimicrobials and some antibiotics useless to those who actually need them, particularly those with weakened immune systems.

You can make healthier choices; zero toxic products in your home equals a healthier planet. Examine products labels and make informed choices.

Some natural cleaning products include baking soda, vinegar, soap, lemon, and salt. Below is list of some specific cleaners.

  • Water plus baking soda is good for general cleaning in the bathroom
  • Unclog drains with 1/2 cup baking soda then 1/2 cup white vinegar, 20 minutes later flush with boiling water
  • Ink stains: soak with white vinegar for 10 minutes add a few drops liquid dish detergent, rub gently, rinse under cool water
  • Glass cleaner: equal amounts vinegar plus water in spray bottle, wipe with newspaper
  • Juice stains: flush stain with cold water, squeeze lemon juice on stain, leave for several minutes, rinse
  • Kitchen clean-ups: vinegar plus water is safe and effective but not for marble or other stone surfaces
  • For mildew: use a combination of lemon juice plus salt.
  • Pot stains: fill pot with 3 tbsp vinegar plus 1-pint water and bring to a boil
  • Wood polish: ¼ cup liquid castile soap, plus ½ cup of vinegar plus 8 oz warm water for polishing
  • Vegetable oil stains: liquid dish washing soap, rinse thoroughly (repeat if necessary)
  • For unpleasant odours: for example, for the cat litter boxes, sprinkle some baking soda
  • Stainless steel: wipe with vinegar dampened cloth
  • Rust Remover: soak in full strength vinegar.

Information gathered from Green Leaders, together for people and planet.

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