Is Your Home Making Asthma and Allergies Worse?

asthma allergies

Well, it’s National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and Clean Air Month (among many other things, like Food Allergy Action Month, Celiac Awareness Month, Arthritis Awarness Month, Lupus Awarness Month, etc) and I want to talk to you about the air in your home and how it could be affecting your asthma or allergies.

Did you know that the level of indoor air pollution inside the home is often 2-5 times higher than air pollution levels outside? And sometimes it is 100 times higher. Indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors.¹

Poor indoor air quality is associated with a number of chronic health conditions such as asthma and allergic diseases, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), airborne respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease. And unfortunately, indoor air quality is only getting worse.²

Since the energy crisis in the 1970’s, we’ve been on a quest to make our homes more energy-efficient to conserve energy and reduce energy costs. Overtime, our homes have become increasingly airtight. As homes become more airtight, air exchange has decreased. Less fresh air is coming into our homes and more polluted air is staying in. 

Poor ventilation also leads to higher humidity which contributes to an increase in mold and dust mites, which can cause asthma and other allergic conditions.

With the increases in “airtightness” of our homes, indoor has become and will continue to become poorer, resulting in an increase in the number of cases of health symptoms related to poorer indoor environment quality.

People with chronic health conditions and those who spend a lot of time indoors, like mothers, children, older people, and people who work from home, will be most at risk.

Here’s What You Should Know

Common sources of indoor air pollution come from volatile organic compounds (VOCs from carpets, furnishings, paints, solvents, etc) formaldehyde in MDF and plywood, phthalates used in plastics, burning kerosene, wood or oil, smoking tobacco products, household cleaners, personal care products, pesticides, building materials, and radon.³

Here’s What You Can Do

  1. Reduce the number of products that off-gas harmful chemicals into the air. Ther are numerous ones but the list above is a great place to start.
  2. Don’t smoke in your home. Ever.
  3. Have your home tested for radon each year. Radon is an invisible natural gas that causes lung cancer. If the levels in your home are high, it needs to be remediated.
  4. Keep humidity levels under 50 percent to decrease the proliferation of dust and mold and to provide a more comfortable breathing environment.
  5. Fix any water leaks to reduce the risk of developing mold and other air pollutants.
  6. Declutter and clean up food spills and crumbs right away to control pests, like roaches. Roaches themselves can trigger asthma flares but preventing them also reduces your need for pesticides.
  7. Avoid using wood burning stoves, kerosene heaters, and coal stoves (my great grandmother and grandmother had these).
  8. Give up the scented candles, air fresheners, and other fragranced products. These products often contain pthalates and other harmful chemicals. If something stinks, it probably needs to be cleaned, not drowned out by fragrance.
  9. Use less toxic personal care products, cleaning supplies, and craft/hobby supplies. Be careful not to store hazardous chemicals in your home and to dispose of them properly.
  10. If you live in an older home and think it may contain asbestos or lead paint. Contact a professional that is trained to deal with those materials. Do not try to handle them yourself as they are very dangerous.
  11. Check to make sure your home’s ventilation systems are working properly (outdoor vents, registers, fans, etc.) and use them. We had a capped vent on our the roof of our house for almost 6 years and we live in an Energy Star Rated home, so yeah, it was beyond airtight. It definitely adversely affected our indoor air quality (and our plumbing).
  12. Occasionally open some windows to get air flowing through your home.
  13. Change the filter on your furnace regularly.
  14. You might consider an air purifier but make sure it is not one that uses ozone as it can worsen asthma.
  15. Relax and go outside. Try not get overwhelmed with all of these possibilities. Take a moment and just get some fresh air outside.

During National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and Clear Air Month, I would love it if you would do one action to improve your indoor air quality. What do you think would be a great first step?  Leave me a comment below.

If you’re having trouble deciding but know you want to decrease your exposure to environmental toxins that could be contributing to chronic illness, feel free to contact me and schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

References:

  1. “Basic Information.” US Environmental Protection Agency. N.p., 233 Feb. 2016. Web. 02 May 2016.
  2. Campbell, Denis. “Asthma Could Be Worsened by Energy-efficient Homes, Warns Study.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 Sept. 2015. Web. 02 May 2016.
  3. “Indoor Air Pollutants and Health.” American Lung Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.
About Tiffany deSilva

Hi I'm Tiffany deSilva, MSW, CPC, CHC, Founder of BrightFire Living, LLC. I am a social worker, speaker, author, certified health, wellness and lifestyle coach, certified green living coach and toxic-free consultant. I am passionate about helping women like you to detox each area of your life, safeguard your family's health, and live life fully charged and completely lit up! I am on a mission to empower women and families who are managing food allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other modern chronic health conditions to live a safe, happy, and healthy life that truly lights your fire!

Feedback & Comments:

  1. You make some great points here Tiffany. We recently moved into a new home in a new state. We weren’t aware of a radon issue in this area and discovered our radon level was sky high. Luckily, the home was still under warranty and the builder had to remediate the problem (a fan and venting system were installed) and now it is fine. Radon is colorless and odorless and high levels increase cancer risk!

    • Tiffany deSilva says:

      Thank you, Deborah! I’m glad you had the radon remediated in your home. Most people don’t realize what a serious cancer risk radon truly is.

  2. These are some awesome tips Tiffany and I adhere to a good portion of them as a seasonal allergy suffer myself, just can’t really get around the humidity one living in Florida. :) and had no clue about some of the ones regarding living in colder states. Eye opening!

    • Tiffany deSilva says:

      Thanks, Lisa! Yes, humidity is a problem is Florida for sure! If someone has a big moisture problem in their home due to humidity, they might consider getting a dehumidifier.

  3. In addition to all the tips Tiffany gave you, one that is not listed, but is awesome is to purchase a Fresh Air Purifier. Oh my gosh, it changed my life. The pollen, dust,smells, and germs are no longer floating in my air. I am healthier because of this. I also happen to sell this great product. I became a user and believer long before I made it my business. I’d love to share info with you. Thanks Tiffany for all the great info you provided your followers.

    • Tiffany deSilva says:

      Thanks, Diana! I actually mention getting an air purifier in tip #14. Thank you for sharing your resource! Glad to hear how well it’s worked for you.

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