Improving the Air Quality in your Home
Asthma affects 1 in 10 children and 1 in 20 adults in the UK and is on the increase.
Asthma is a chronic (long-term, even life long) lung disease that can be life threatening. During an asthma episode, tightening of the smooth muscles around the bronchial tubes causes them to become inflamed, narrow inside, and produce excess mucus. This makes it difficult for air to pass in and out of the lungs and decreases the oxygen levels in the blood. A person suffering from an asthma attack has a sensation similar to drowning.
Asthma attacks can be caused by something that bothers the lungs. These are called asthma triggers. It's important to discover which triggers are problems so actions can be taken either by avoiding the trigger or getting rid of it and so preventing asthma attacks.
There are many kinds of Asthma triggers.
- House Dust Mites
- Common cold
- Emotional stress & excitement
- Vigorous exercise
- Cold Air
- Occupational dusts & vapours – plastics, grains, metals, wood
- Air Pollution – cigarette smoke, grains, ozone, sulphur dioxide, car exhaust
- Sleep (Nocturnal Asthma)
- Household products – paint, cleaners, sprays, drugs, aspirin
- Heart Medications
Indoor Air Quality
Many asthma triggers can be removed by improving the indoor air quality within the home. We spend up to 90% of our time indoors and 65% of that time in our homes. We inhale 33 lbs of air each day compared to ingesting only 5.5 lbs of liquid and 1.5 lbs of food. Children breathe in 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults do. EPA (U.S. Environment Protection Agency) studies have found that pollutant levels inside can be two to five times higher than outdoors and after some activities, indoor air pollution levels can be 100 times higher than outdoors.
Remove the triggers
By following some simple suggestions, you can remove triggers in your home.
Don't allow smoking in the home and encourage family members to quit.
Avoid perfume and perfumed cosmetics such as hairspray, use non-perfumed household cleaning products whenever possible, and reduce strong cooking odours (especially frying) by using a fan or opening windows.
All warm blooded pets including dogs, cats, birds, and rodents have animal dander, i.e. tiny pieces of skin that flake off. The allergen of the pet is in the dander, also the saliva and urine. The best advice here is to remove the animal from the home and then thoroughly clean floors and walls, and especially carpets and upholstered furniture. If you must have a pet, choose one without fur or feathers (e.g. fish). Otherwise, to minimise the allergen, wash pets weekly, keep them out of the bedrooms and shut the doors, and keep them away from fabric covered furniture, carpets and stuffed toys.
Every home has dust mites, and body parts and faeces of the mites can trigger allergic reactions. So wash all bedding weekly in hot water, choose washable stuffed toys (keep them off the bed and wash them regularly), cover mattresses and pillows in dust proof zippered covers, and remove carpets if possible.
Use an Air Cleaner. Air Purifiers with hospital grade hepa-filters can remove up to 97% of microscopic particles and airborne allergens as small as 0.3 microns (the average human hair is 80 microns in size and the average bacterium is 1 micron in size) including bacteria, fungal spores, dust mites, pollen, insect dust, animal dander and tobacco smoke. Top-quality systems also use a gas absorption media to absorb toxic chemicals and gases, photo-catalytic oxidation that destroys toxic chemicals and eliminates household odours, and ultraviolet light to kill disease germs on contact and produce negative ions to improve sleep and keep the air fresh.
By Chris Wright
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