Housing and Health

Biological Contaminants

What are biological contaminants?

Biological contaminants are living things or are produced by living things. They include mould, house dust, bacteria, viruses, animal dander, cat saliva, pollen, cockroaches and mites.

What are some health problems caused by biological contaminants?

Many biological contaminants are small enough to be inhaled, and some can cause health problems. Bacteria and viruses can cause infections.

What can I do to control other biological contaminants?

  • Keep the house clean and all surfaces dust-free to reduce dust mites, pollens and animal dander
  • Regularly clean heating vents and change heating and air conditioning system filters
  • Vacuum the house weekly, including floors, bedding and soft furnishings. People with allergies should leave the room during vacuuming and for at least an hour after the dust settles. If someone in the house suffers from allergies, you can consider buying a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High- Efficiency-Particulate-Arresting) filter. A HEPA filter traps very small particles that are not collected by regular vacuum cleaners. You may also consider installing a built-in vacuum cleaner that vents outside the main living area, such as in the basement, crawl space or outside
  • Regularly wash bedding, including pillows and mattress pads, in hot water – wash temperature should be at least 55°C (131°F)