Air quality a growing part of local business

brad and tim-web
Brad Moore (left) and Tim Quinn from Quinn’s Plumbing and Heating show some of the tools used to determine air quality in the home. The company is getting more and more requests to come up with air quality solutions for homeowners. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Though Quinn’s Plumbing and Heating are best known for the two services that are part of their company name, the family business is finding air quality management is becoming an ever increasing part of what they do.

“We’re finding more and more that the reason people are getting sick is either what they are breathing or what they are eating,” Quinn said. “Our bodies just aren’t designed to deal with a lot of the chemicals and a lot of the things we are having to deal with. With air quality we are also finding the stuff that’s causing the problems is very, very small and we have to be very specific when we try and take it out.”

Quinn said filtration technology and knowledge has come a long way over the past five years. For that reason, his company has sourced out specific equipment that can improve the indoor air quality of their client’s homes.

His research indicates the average home produces 40 pounds of dust per year, most of that created by the shedding of human skin, which is in turn eaten by dust mites that rapidly repopulate, continuing the cycle anew. But in the fight for better in-home air quality, dust is a factor – just not the most important one.

“We used to go after dust. Dust is still important, but the visible dust that you see is not really causing all the trouble,” Quinn said, adding the dust on the top of the china cabinet is not the real culprit; it’s the small particulate matter that matters most. “The stuff we are going after is the microscopic stuff that’s in the air. It get’s past your body’s defences and gets into your lungs, becomes blood borne and causes you to react.”

Lowering the bucket

Quinn said the company has purchased some testing equipment at the request of a Sherwood Park doctor they have been working with. That equipment, which Quinn had on display at the Morinville Chamber’s trade show, allows his company to truly analyze the particulate matter in a home. What Quinn and his staff look for is particulate matter one micron or smaller in size. “That’s the stuff that gets past your body’s filtration systems and right into your lungs,” he explained. “That’s what we test for and then we come up with a solution for your house.”

Quinn uses a bucket concept to educate people on what the technology is trying to do. Simply put, a hole in a bucket that can drain a gallon a minute will eventually overflow if two gallons a minute of water is poured in. “What we’re trying to do is create a concept where the home is a place where you can lower your bucket so that when you go out you are not as affected,” Quinn said. “You can never escape this stuff because it is everywhere, but at least if we can make the home an area where your bucket can be reduced, when you go out you do not have those reactions immediately.”

The company believes improving air quality improves quality of life by allowing people to sleep better and perhaps use fewer medications.

High-tech solutions

The local company has equipment that can be installed in conjunction with home furnaces to use UV light or high-tech carbon filters to remove harmful particulates and odours, including volatile organic compounds (VOC) – the off gases from manufactured products.

“Particulate is taken out by filtration,” Quinn said, adding there are a number of different filters on the market, which are great for protecting the furnace itself. But he said in order to get down to the microscopic level electronic filtration is required. “There are no throw away filters for a house that can get anywhere near the particulate that we are after. It has to be a polarized media filter or an electronic air cleaner. The filters on the market are a bit of a placebo. They say fancy words like allergy filter, but no paper filter can filter down low enough.”

In order to rid a home of VOC gases Quinn said carbon or UV filtration is essential. “A Brita is a very simple type of a carbon filter people are familiar with,” Quinn said, adding UVV energy will also work. “UVV from the sun and UVC from the sun is the way Mother Nature cleans our air naturally. UVV eliminates the VOC or odours and UVC eliminates bacteria and mould. That’s why you never see mould growing on the south side of a tree. When the sunlight can hit it, it kills it or sterilizes it. We can replicate what happens in nature in your house, all without using any chemicals.”

Quinn said although the majority of available air quality equipment works around the home’s central heating system, the company has portable options for apartment and condo residents.