Asthma and the Healthy Home

Almost 20 million people in America suffer from asthma according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor air pollutants are a large part of the problem for asthma sufferers. What does building a green home have to do with the fight against asthma? The amount of time we spend indoors might have something to do with it: most of us spend as much as 90% of our time indoors. With various indoor-air pollutants lingering in our homes, indoor-air quality can become a major factor for people with asthma. The impact can be reduced by taking a few simple steps, many of which are practiced in healthy green homes already.

The Culprits

Mold, household products, pets, dust mites and nitrogen dioxide (used in gas stoves) are common household asthma triggers than can be easily addressed. Other triggers, such as cockroaches, tobacco smoke, radon, carbon monoxide, asbestos, formaldehyde and lead, are also indoor-air pollutants that worsen asthma symptoms. Here is how you can help reduce their effects:

  • Mold: Open windows after bathing or install an exhaust fan, make sure fabrics dry completely before use, fix leaking pipes.
  • Chemicals: Use cleaning products, paints, and solvents as directed and be sure there is
    ample ventilation.
  • Pets: Keep pets outside if possible or do not allow them on furniture of other fabrics that can collect hair and dander.
  • Tobacco Smoke: Do not smoke indoors or near entryways or open windows
  • Dust Mites: Clean bedding and other fabrics once a week making sure they dry completely; use plastic coverings over mattresses, hard surfaces, such as tile and stone. Dust mites need something to feed on, according to WebMD.com, and hard surfaces don’t offer that.
  • Nitrogen Dioxide: Comes from appliances that burn fuels so make sure there is ample ventilation when using such appliances. Also be sure to choose direct vent combustion appliances, where both the combustion air and exhaust are vented to the outside.
  • Cockroaches: Keep all food in sealed containers, make sure crumbs are cleaned up and dishes washed, cover trash cans.
  • Radon , carbon monoxide , asbestos , formaldehyde and lead: Avoid these triggers altogether, install CO2 detectors in your home. Radon, asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead should be removed from your home.

Reducing indoor-air pollutants is an important step in improving the air-quality of our homes, especially for those living with asthma. A good air exchange system will also help ensure a fresh supply of air throughout the home. Since healthy materials and good indoor air quality are typically standard in green building, it is no wonder that green and energy efficient homes are considered healthier for asthma sufferers. To find out more, visit The National Center for Healthy Housing.

Don’t forget to consult your allergist. Doctor’s can help pinpoint specific allergies you might have, making it much easier to generate solutions to improve your breathing….

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