Treating Asthma Symptoms Requires Being Kinder to the Environment
Advocacy Some of the most common triggers for asthma are linked to everyday choices. Small changes could lead to big results.
How an Air Purifier can Reduce Asthma Symptoms
Helder Pedro, President, Airpura Industries
People spend almost 90% of their time indoors and new research reveals that the indoor air we breathe is almost 5 times more polluted than the air outside.
When we think of air pollution, the first thing that comes to people’s mind are car emissions and factory fumes. Most are unaware of the dangerous pollutants that may be lurking right in their own homes. A person with asthma is particularly vulnerable to these indoor pollutants which can exacerbate their condition. The top culprits being: tobacco smoke, mold, pollen (from outside), pet dander and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are commonly found in cleaning products, paint, new furniture, certain building materials among other things.
It can be difficult to completely eliminate these triggers from your home which is why an air purifier can be instrumental in improving the lives of people with asthma by drastically reducing these allergens from their indoor air. Identifying what triggers your asthma is key to choosing the right air purifier but there are 2 key elements an air purifier should contain.
The first is a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter which is your most effective weapon against seasonal triggers such as pollen, grass, trees, weeds as well as smoke and pet dander. The HEPA filter is able to trap 99.97% of these airborne particles, (as small as 0.3 microns) directly onto their surface, completely removing them from your air stream. The second element is activated carbon (the more, the better) which acts like a “sponge” to trap and absorb chemical triggers such as VOCs, chemicals and other strong odors.
Living with chronic asthma can be difficult, but small adaptations to your living/work environment can result in a positive and measurable impact on the quality of your life.
Are you breathing clean air? Chances are you’re not — no matter where you live.
Health effects of climate change and air pollution are a serious worldwide problem. A recent report by the World Health Organization says air pollution kills 7 million people every year; 93 percent of children under 15 are risking health and developmental issues because of the polluted air they breathe.
Air pollutants in the lungs can trigger or worsen symptoms for asthma sufferers. According to a recent study, air pollution may cause between 9 million and 33 million asthma-related emergency room visits worldwide per year.
What’s causing poor air quality? One primary pollutant is fine particulate matter: a mix of solid and liquid droplets that get into the air via emissions from factories, power plants and vehicles. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large enough to be visible. Others are microscopic. When inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health issues.
How climate change will make your asthma worse
Emissions also send up into the air large amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, which are trapped in the atmosphere. As a result, the planet cannot cool off, altering our weather patterns.
This warmer weather allows trees and plants to bloom sooner and produce pollen and mold spores earlier in the spring and fall, lengthening the allergy seasons. Both pollen and mold spores are common asthma triggers.
When power plant, factory and vehicle emissions mix with heat and sunlight, it forms smog (also called ground-level ozone), another powerful asthma irritant. Heat waves and smoke from wildfires — which can spread hundreds of miles — can also trigger asthma flares.
Getting your asthma under control
What can you do? Talk with your doctor if you think poor air quality is impacting your symptoms and ask whether you need to adjust your treatment plan or medication schedule. Find out if allergen immunotherapy for pollen and mold is right for you.
Some lifestyle changes that can help include:
Reducing pollution from vehicles: Don’t idle your car when parked. Carpool when possible, or better yet, take public transit or ride a bike to work, if you can.
Being smart about saving energy: Set your thermostat a bit cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. Turn off lights and unplug TVs and computers when not in use. And use energy-efficient light bulbs.
Installing solar panels: Although expensive, solar panels on your roof may be worth it in the long run, depending on your family’s finances. They'll also cut down on the amount of energy you have to purchase. Tax credits could also be available, making an energy-saving decision a sound financial decision, too.
Monitoring local air quality reports daily: Stay inside if possible when pollen counts are high or air quality is poor. Avoid or limit strenuous outdoor activity to early morning hours when pollen and ozone levels tend to be lower.