Our health and well-being are greatly influenced by the air we breathe. Given how much time we spend indoors, this is especially true of the air we breathe inside our homes, schools, and workplaces. Poor air quality has a well-known negative impact on our health. Air pollution has been linked to an increase in the frequency and severity of respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, and lung cancer, as well as decreased lung function in young children. Asthmatics may find this a significant impediment to normal day-to-day living. Furthermore, unlike outdoor air quality, individuals can actively improve indoor air quality and thus engage in direct interventions to improve their health.
So, what is Asthma?
Asthma is a common chronic condition that causes the airways to become inflamed and sensitive. This causes swelling and mucus production, which can result in symptoms like coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, as well as making breathing extremely difficult. Asthma symptoms are frequently exacerbated by exposure to triggers, which are substances that would not normally cause a problem in non-asthmatic individuals. Certain airborne contaminants, such as dust, mold, smoke, and particulate matter, are known to be particularly common asthma triggers, causing symptoms to worsen and potentially fatal attacks in many people. Airborne particulate matter is also known to have serious health consequences for people who have or do not have respiratory conditions.
Monitoring the Air & Providing Health for the Home
This study evaluates the utility of air monitoring in tracking and identifying personal asthma triggers, as well as the role of indoor air purification in ongoing asthma management. For three months, the air quality in the home was continuously monitored, both before and after the installation of an air purifier. Participants tracked their symptoms using an app linked to the air monitoring system. This method allowed participants to see improvements in their air quality after the purifier was installed, as well as cross-reference their symptoms with any changes in air quality. Most users noticed a significant reduction in particulate matter levels after installing the air purifier, and in most cases, they were able to match their symptoms to an air quality issue detected by the sensor. Some users reported that installing the purifier and air monitor improved their quality of life.
“What it does is fantastic, and it can only be beneficial. Everything combined has resulted in a higher quality of life for me; it is a necessary piece of the puzzle. It’s like connecting the dots, adding a little bit that wasn’t there before.”
“Having that knowledge [about air quality] enabled me to open doors and move away from the fumes until they dissipated. I can’t always pinpoint the source of the problem but using an air monitor has definitely helped.”
These findings suggest that both air quality monitoring and air purification can play important roles in asthma management. According to the Asthma Society of Ireland, the findings indicate the need for a larger study to fully demonstrate the potential impact of indoor air monitoring and purification on the personal management of asthma symptoms, which would improve the general health of the population.
Indoor Asthma Triggers
Cockroaches and other insects, dust mites, mildew, and home pets are some of the most prevalent indoor asthma triggers, as are environmental cigarette smoke (secondhand smoke). You may learn more about asthma triggers and how to decrease your exposure to them by visiting the following sites:
- American Lung Association
- CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health
- CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
- U.S. Environmental Protection
Mold grows on damp things such as shower curtains, bath items, tubs, basins and tiles.
What can I do?
- If you see mold, clean it up with soap and water.
- Use exhaust fans or open a window in the bathroom when showering and the kitchen when cooking or washing dishes.
- Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water as soon as possible.
- Dry damp or wet items within 1-2 days to avoid mold growth.
Dust mites are microscopic insects that are difficult to notice. It is possible that they are hiding in your bed linens and blankets, pillows and mattresses, soft furniture, carpets and plush toys such as stuffed animals.
What can I do to help?
- Bed linens and blankets should be washed once a week. Allow to dry completely.
- Dust-proof covers should be used on pillows and mattresses.
- Vacuum your carpets, rugs, and furniture on a regular basis
- To clean plush animals, use a mild soap and water. Allow to dry completely.
Whether it’s the smoke from a cigarette, pipe, or cigar that triggers asthma or the smoke exhaled by the smoker, tobacco smoke can provoke asthma attacks. Selectively refrain from smoking in your home or automobile, and don’t allow others to do so either.
What can I do?
- Do not smoke in your home or in your vehicle.
- Do not allow someone to smoke in the vicinity of your youngster.
- Make a commitment to keep your house and car smoke-free.
Smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contains a mixture of toxic substances as well as microscopic particles that can cause respiratory problems. These microscopic particles, when inhaled, can trigger asthma episodes and severe bronchitis, as well as aggravate heart and lung disease and increase the chance of respiratory ailments in the future.
What can I do?
- Make sure to burn dry wood that has been split, stacked, covered, and kept for at least 6 months in order to assist reduce smoke emissions. Never burn waste, plastics, or pressure-treated wood, as these items can cause fires.
- A licensed professional should inspect your stove and chimney at least once each year to ensure there are no gaps, cracks, or drafts and to remove any dangerous creosote build-up that could be present.
- Replace your old wood stove with a new, more environmentally friendly heating unit if at all possible.
- Consider utilizing a HEPA filter in the same room as your stove or fireplace to keep the air quality clean. According to studies, HEPA filters can lower indoor particle pollution by as much as 60% compared to standard filters.