Improving Indoor Air Quality For Asthma Sufferers
We’ve got bad news for asthma sufferers in the Delaware Valley: You’re dealing with some of the worst air pollutions on the east coast. That makes improving your indoor air quality at home especially important.
According to the American Lung Association, some 47,000 people in Delaware County alone suffer from asthma. In Montgomery County, the number is close to 70,000.
Meanwhile, these counties – and all of Southeastern Pennsylvania, really – regularly get failing grades for their air quality.
Meanwhile, the air in your home is often “dirtier” than what’s outside. And, those pollutants are what trigger attacks.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to improve it.
How do you improve indoor air quality for asthma sufferers?
Improving indoor air quality for asthma sufferers starts with understanding what pollutants you’re dealing with. Then, you need to clean out your house as much as possible. Finally, you want to take steps to keep the air free of triggers after that. To do this, you’ll want to:
- Get an air quality test in your home
- Clean strategically to get rid of pollutants
- Use air filters on your HVAC system
- Consider single room or whole-house air purifiers
- Use dehumidifiers to control moisture in the air
How to test indoor air quality
An important first step for people with respiratory issues is getting a professional to test their indoor air quality. A certified healthy air specialist assesses the quality of your air and what’s in it. Then, they’ll provide a written report that covers:
- Contaminants including lead, radon, and carbon monoxide
- Common allergens such as dust, dander, and pollen
- The effect of your heating and cooling system
- Tools and strategies to address the problem
There are plenty of home test kits available. But, a certified specialist offers a much more detailed, comprehensive assessment. And, once you’ve got that information, you can zero in on what your home needs the most.
Reducing allergens and irritants in your home
An important first step toward cleaning the air in your home is getting rid of the airborne nuisances that trigger attacks and seasonal allergy symptoms. It sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Three ways to approach this are:
- Establishing a specific weekly cleaning routine
- Eliminating colognes and perfumes
- Making sure no one ever smokes in the house
Weekly cleaning routine.
This is the same idea for people who suffer from seasonal allergies, which we covered here. You may need to do a little more than the average household. But, a quick checklist makes it easier:
- Wipe off counters, tables, windowsills, and tops of doors with a damp cloth
- Clean all rugs and carpets with a small-particle filter vacuum cleaner
- Wash sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in 130-degree water
- Wipe down cabinets and mop floors
Colognes and perfumes.
These probably won’t show up on an air quality test. But, they’re well-known respiratory irritants. And, they often trigger high-intensity attacks.
This extends past body fragrances, too. Plug-in air fresheners, disinfectant sprays, and even aftershaves can have the same effect.
Eliminate tobacco smoke.
It’s not nearly as common as it used to be for people to smoke in the house. But, it’s worth mentioning.
In particular, health officials now warn about “third-hand” smoke: Residual chemicals that build up on surfaces and fabrics.
Part of the problem is that the nicotine combines with dust particles. And, it won’t clear out even if you air out a room.
Instead, you need to scrub your walls, counters, tables, and clean all your rugs and couches. That makes it a problem for renters: If a previous tenant smoked, odds are there’s still thirdhand residue hanging around.
Improving air quality with air filters, purifiers, and dehumidifiers
By now, you’ve identified contaminants and cleaned as much as you can. The next step is preventing more allergens and triggers from circulating through the house. To do this, you can use:
- HVAC air filters
- Whole-house or room air purifiers
If your home has ductwork, you’re already using an air filter, or screen, to improve the air quality. It traps dust and other pollutants as they pass through the HVAC system. This way, they don’t circulate throughout your house.
But, run-of-the-mill HVAC screens don’t catch everything. Particles such as pollen and dust mites are small enough to pass through the average ones.
Stronger filters are a relatively small investment: Maybe upwards of $20 per screen instead of around $6 each.
However, some high-rated ones also restrict airflow. If the system isn’t strong enough to push the air through, it won’t heat or cool your home nearly as well.
Air purifiers work similarly to HVAC filters. But, they’re designed to catch even smaller particles than those screens.
You can get free-standing ones that handle just one room. Or, whole-home units attach to your HVAC system to treat the entire home.
They’re equipped with their own fan or motor. This way, they’re strong enough to block those small particles. But, they don’t affect the airflow nearly as much as a model that’s too strong for the system.
How can dehumidifiers help asthma sufferers?
Humidity plays a role in triggering asthma attacks. The warm moist air activates nerves people’s lungs. This causes their airway to restrict. Meanwhile triggers such as dust and pollen fuse with water vapor and hang in the air. Using a dehumidifier prevents gets rid of that excess moisture.
High humidity in warm weather
You’ve likely felt as if the air was thick or heavy in the summer. That heavy sensation is even worse for people suffering from respiratory problems.
Warm air naturally holds more moisture than cool air. That makes it a common trigger in the summertime.
Room vs. whole-home humidifiers
Like air purifiers, you can look at single-room models or whole-home appliances.
Ultimately, a whole-home humidifier will do a better job than a portable model. It’s got a built-in humidistat to measure the moisture in the air. Then, it turns on and off on its own.
These attach directly to your HVAC system to treat the entire home. However, they’re much more expensive than smaller models. And, you need a professional to install and clean it.
But, you can move them easily from one area to another. This way, you can treat whatever part of the house needs it the most.
Ultimately, you’ll need to assess your home to determine which solutions are right for you. Getting an air quality test and speaking with a professional is an excellent way to get started.
Contact John Cipollone today to have a certified Healthy Air Expert assess your home and help you improve your indoor air quality!