Can indoor air pollution cause asthma?
Since May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at the links between air pollution and asthma - the causes, culprits, and changes you can make within your home to reduce the chances of an asthma attack.
Allergic asthma can be triggered by common factors within the home such as dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander. These airborne particles are known as Particulate Matter (PM). Without proper air filtration and ventilation within a home, they can remain floating in the air over extended periods of time. When inhaled, PM causes irritation and inflammation to the airways, triggering asthma symptoms.
Though the science is still evolving, it's believed that continued exposure to poor indoor air quality can be a cause of asthma in itself due to the long-term irritation of airways. This is of particular concern regarding children, whose lungs are still developing and whose lung function can be compromised by such conditions.
Indoor air pollution increases the risk of childhood acute respiratory infections by 78%
Can keeping your home clean reduce asthma triggers?
If dust and pet dander can cause asthma symptoms, then cleaning and vacuuming should help… right? Unfortunately the answer isn’t quite that simple. While a thorough cleaning routine is advisable, there are other factors at play here: unless your vacuum has an in-built HEPA filter, the process of vacuuming can disperse these pesky particles back into the air — right back into the danger zone, where they’re more likely to be inhaled by you or your loved ones. Similarly, cleaning sprays and aerosol products introduce irritants known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the home — which are sources of air pollution and often asthma triggers in themselves.
“It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home, even if symptoms are not noticeable”
Can air quality testing help?
Air quality isn’t static: an assessment of your home’s air on a weekday while your family are at work or school will give a very different picture to, say, testing on a busy Saturday morning with a full house and breakfast cooking away on the stovetop, or after a spring cleaning blitz.
Actions such as using your kitchen range hood and opening windows can help to reduce concentration levels of air pollutants under the right conditions — but outdoor factors such as pollen, traffic pollution or wildfire smoke can introduce further harmful substances into your home’s air and risk an asthma attack.
Continuous monitoring of your home’s air gives you the full picture of pollution levels, with the data to spot trends so you can problem solve your air quality issues and pin-point events that may have sparked an asthma attack, or recognize those long-term poor air quality indicators and address them before noticeable health effects set in. With an estimated 1.6M deaths per year linked to indoor air pollution² and no medical cure for asthma, it’s clear that awareness needs to be raised on the issue and the impact of the invisible on human health.
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