Did you know your home can be one of the main asthma triggers for you and your kids? The indoor air quality in our homes can be polluted just like the outdoor air. The air in our homes influences our asthma and allergy symptoms on a daily basis. Our homes are filled with knickknacks, stuffed furniture, carpet and more that can gather dust and/or be a home for dust mites, mold, and harmful chemicals. The best news is that there are steps we can take to clean up the air in our homes.
What’s in Our Home’s Air?
Our homes are filled with small particles (particulates); the levels of particulates in our indoor air are more concentrated in a closed space than outdoor air. Indoor air can even be more dangerous than outdoor air.
• Chemicals and gases (chlorine bleach, aerosol sprays, room fresheners, gas fumes, carbon monoxide)
• Allergens (pollen, pet dander, dust, dust mites)
• Dust mites
Reduce Asthma Triggers in Your Home
Reducing the levels of indoor particulates in your home may dramatically help to improve your asthma symptoms. The key to improving indoor air quality is to have a plan and a schedule you can follow each day.
In the beginning, trying to asthma-proof your home may feel like an overwhelming job. A schedule and a room-by-room plan make it fast and easy to make your home asthma-friendly. Develop a schedule and plan that work for you, and that will allow you to spend only a few minutes each day to improve your home’s indoor air quality.
a. damp dust and damp mop, rather than dry dusting, in order to avoid spreading dust and dust mites through the air as you clean. You also avoid using aerosol dusting sprays that contain harmful and irritating chemicals.
b. vacuum with a HEPA vacuum at least twice a week (every day is best), and wear a dust mask to help keep dirt, dust and dust mites from irritating your nose and airways.
c. get rid of clutter and keep knickknacks to a minimum, as these are dust catchers.
d. get rid of all mold (in bathrooms, basements and other areas) and fix all water leaks to avoid mold and mold spores in your home.
a. all bedding once a week in hot water to kill dust mites.
b. all area rugs once a week to help control asthma triggers, such as dust mites and pollen.
c. curtains and drapes once a month or at least once every three months. You can also vacuum curtains and drapes in between washings.
3. Install wood and/or tile floors in your home. Wood and tile floors are easier to keep clean than carpeting. Carpets and carpet pads offer places for bacteria, viruses, dust mites, dirt, asthma and allergy triggers to live and thrive.
4. Ask smokers to go outside to smoke, as this will help to keep your home free of second-hand smoke and free of chemicals given off by cigarettes, cigars and pipes.
5. Avoid the use of chemicals with strong odors (chlorine bleach, pesticides, paint thinners, aerosol cleaners, etc.) and scented products (such as air fresheners, perfume, cologne, strongly scented detergents and fabric softeners). Each of these products contains scents and chemicals that can irritate eyes, sinuses and airways.
6. Keep humidity levels low by using a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels and use a hygrometer to measure the levels of humidity in your home.
7. Use HEPA filters in furnace and air conditioner vents to trap dirt, mold spores, dust and dust mites from becoming spread through your home’s air ducts.
8. Keep pollen outside: use air conditioners and close windows during days with high pollen counts.
9. Properly vent indoor wood burning stoves and fireplaces. It’s also important to ventilate rooms where you use wood burning stoves and fireplaces; this will help to lower amounts of smoke and particles in the air. You can open a window about an inch to let fresh air into the room.
10. Encase bed box springs, mattresses, pillows and comforters in anti-dust mite covers. These covers are made of tightly woven fabric that makes it almost impossible for dust mites to come through. You can find these covers made from organic cotton, polyester, or a combination of these two fibers.
One way to begin the process of improving indoor air quality is to do the easiest and less inexpensive items on the list first. For instance, you might first try cleaning and washing (items 1 and 2 on the list above), as these are easier and less expensive than installing wood or tile floors. You may even find that cleaning and washing more often are all you need to do to improve the indoor air quality of your home. However, if you still experience asthma symptoms, then you might try other items on the list, such as keeping windows closed during high pollen counts, vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum and installing filters in your home’s furnace and air conditioning vents. Starting with the easiest and less-expensive methods first allows you to work down the list to the more costly and work-intensive items such as installing wood or tile floors. It will take a little experimenting to see what exactly which items will work best together to improve your asthma.
Indoor air quality can have a huge impact on asthma symptoms, flares and attacks. Improving the air quality in our homes is one way we can achieve better control of our asthma, and live a healthier life.
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