4 Strategies for Avoiding Home Asthma Triggers
Spring is a difficult time for many asthma sufferers. Environmental factors such as mold and pollen can trigger asthma symptoms. As humidity and pollution levels rise throughout the spring into the summer, asthma attacks can become more prevalent or severe. To compound the issue, most people that have asthma also experience seasonal allergies.
Asthma is a condition that causes the swelling of airways. About 8 percent of the population has asthma, and that number is on the rise. Although it is widely known that air pollution can exacerbate asthma symptoms, many people are shocked to learn that home air pollutants are a common asthma trigger. Thankfully, there are many strategies to reduce indoor asthma triggers that offer relief.
Avoid Common Home Contaminants
Cleaning products, building finishes, smoke from cooking, fireplaces, or tobacco, and off-gassing products (such as carpeting and furniture) can pollute indoor air. Whenever possible, avoid or minimize introducing these pollutants into the home.
Use non-toxic cleaning products, air fresheners, personal care products, and building finishes for cleaner indoor air. Minimize exposure to smoke by not using tobacco products indoors and properly venting stoves and fireplaces. Avoid bringing off-gassing products into the home, especially when they are new. Attached garages are also a common source of indoor air pollution, so avoid idling vehicles and storing hazardous products in the garage.
Bring in Fresh, Filtered Air
For a home to have high indoor air quality, it is important to have enough fresh air. This ensures both safe carbon dioxide levels and that airborne pollutants are diluted. Most houses rely on passive ventilation through gaps and cracks and exhaust fans for ventilation. Homes, however, are being more tightly constructed than ever before, causing less air to exchange between the interior and exterior of the home.
Zehnder heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators bring a constant stream of fresh, filtered air into the home while simultaneously exhausting stale, contaminated air. Fine air filters remove many common air pollutants, such as mold spores, dust mites, auto emission particles, pet dander, and bacteria.
Prevent Mold Growth
Mold is a common home contaminant and asthma trigger and is widely found in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Elevated humidity levels create breeding grounds for mold to thrive. Mold issues can develop when there are leaks in the building envelope or plumbing system and from elevated humidity levels in the home.
To prevent mold growth, it is essential to inspect for and repair any leaks and to avoid standing water. If there is mold growth, stop the water from entering the home and remove moldy items whenever possible. Beware that mold often grows behind walls or under floors, where it isn’t visible.
It is also important to vent excess moisture from the house, especially in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry area where common household activities release moisture into the air. For example, many homes develop a mold problem in the bathroom because of the humidity level skyrockets during and after bathing.
A heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventilator provides an excellent solution. This continuous ventilation system removes excess moisture from showering, washing dishes, cooking, or doing laundry. Zehnder ComfoAir energy recovery ventilation units also help prevent elevated indoor humidity levels throughout the home by removing some moisture from the intake air.
Keep Dust Mites at Bay
Dust mites are a very common year-long asthma and allergy trigger and are widely found in bedrooms. Although it isn’t possible to completely remove dust mites from the home, it is possible to minimize your exposure and to reduce their prevalence.
Dust mites thrive in more humid conditions, so it is beneficial to keep home humidity levels below 60 or even 50 percent. If necessary, use an energy recovery ventilator, dehumidifier, heat pump, or air conditioner to keep home humidity within a healthy range. It is also recommended to cover mattresses and pillows with dust-free covers, launder sheets weekly in hot water, avoid carpeting in the bedroom, and dust surfaces regularly.