Questions to Ask


Timing and Patterns of Symptoms
  • What time of day are symptoms at their worst? E.g., higher pollution in the late afternoon/early evening.
  • What days of the week are they worse? E.g., higher pollution on weekdays when traffic is heaviest.
  • Is there a seasonal pattern? E.g. are symptoms associated with pollution peaks in summer, or with greater use of combustion appliances indoors?
  • Are symptoms associated with specific activities? E.g., exercise outdoors, playing with pets, etc.
  • Are symptoms location-specific? E.g., outdoors, home, day-care, school, vehicle, other.

Features of the Child's Home (or Other Indoor Environment)

Is exposure to ETS the primary factor?

  • Do people in the home or home day-care smoke around the child?

To determine if there is a problem with chemical contaminants:

  • Are there "chemical" smells or odours from household items, e.g., especially new materials such as carpets, upholstery, plastic raincoats, toys, sheets, etc?
  • Have there been recent household renovations?
  • What types of household cleaners, deodorizers are used and how are they used?
  • Is there use of a wood-burning stove, fireplace, gas or kerosene heaters, etc?

To determine if there is a problem with biological contaminants:

  • Are there pets?
  • Are there sources of dust mites, e.g., bed linens, favourite stuffed toys?
  • Does the house have a stale, musty or earthy smell?
  • Has there been recent flooding?

To determine if outdoor contaminants are having a bearing on indoor air:

  • What is the proximity of the home to major roadways and heavy traffic?
  • Can car exhausts come in through windows or air intake vents near driveways or garages?
  • Are there features of the neighbourhood that might contribute to bad air, such as factories, landfill site, gas stations, dry cleaners, railroad lines, airports, golf courses, etc?
  • Have pesticides been used on lawns or plants close to the home?
Copyright © 2000 Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
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