Indoor Air Quality and Asthma

The National Environmental Education Foundation has a study on ways to control environmental factors in the home that may trigger asthma attacks in children.  You can download the study here:  AsthmaDoc NEEF 2005.

From the introduction:

Environmental asthma triggers include indoor and outdoor allergens — such as dust mites, cockroaches, animal allergens, molds, and pollens — and indoor and outdoor pollutants and irritants, including environmental tobacco smoke (or secondhand smoke), chemicals, combustion by-products, and ozone and particulate matter.  Although viruses and upper respiratory infections can exacerbate an asthma attack, they are not considered environmental asthma triggers for purposes of these guidelines.

Our coalition has been particularly interested in issues around smoking and secondhand smoke.  A while back we organized a Smoke Free Business campaign, an effort rendered moot when Virginia passed legislation banning smoking in restaurants.  We’ve continued do to work identifying how smoking is marketed to children and teens.  As this study shows, smoking not only has direct and immediate health effects in terms of lunch cancer and other pulmonary disease, but can be a trigger for serious asthma attacks.  It is one of the indoor air quality issues addressed in the study that can have a negative effect on breathing health.

It’s important to note that indoor air quality presents an interesting challenge.  A lot of families are working hard to reduce their household energy costs by buttoning down their homes – sealing leaks, making their houses more efficient to conserve heat and air conditioning.  Yet, houses do need to breathe to allow the circulation of fresh air that can flush out pollutants and allergens that may build up in the house.  Further, gas ovens and furnaces can cause build-ups of carbon monoxide that pose threats all their own.  When looking at indoor air quality as an element of managing asthma, consultation of an energy auditor can serve the dual purpose of both making sure your home circulates air sufficiently and is conserving energy at the same time.  You can check out the regional energy education website Save-a-Ton for information on auditors, or contact Coalition member Better Building Works for more information.

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One Response to Indoor Air Quality and Asthma

  1. Interesting article. I work for an environmental consultancy based in the UK; we carry out lots of air quality testing in building with ventilation systems. Lots of these tests are carried out due to people in the buildings complaining about the air quality, say it is having a negative impact on them. In the majority of cases the air quality is better than the air quality outside. Personally, I have recently purchased a Victoria property (very drafty) and my asthma has never been better!

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