Indoor air pollution is irritating to everyone:
But people who have respiratory problems are even more sensitive
to indoor irritants and are more prone to developing complications.
Listed here are a few common irritants found
in the home and some helpful tips for decreasing or eliminating
Allow no smoking in your house. Place polite
"no smoking" signs in areas readily noticed by family members
and guests. If someone does want to smoke, kindly ask them to
step outside to your front porch or patio.
Your kitchen, bathroom, and any work area--where
fumes may accumulate--are good places to install exhaust fans.
Remember to open a window whenever you are staying in these areas
for any length of time. Clean the fans periodically.
If you use a gas water heater, get someone
to inspect it regularly. Check the pilot lights on your gas stove,
and make sure that gas flames are burning blue.
Examine your furniture to determine whether
it is made of plywood, fiberboard, or particleboard for evidence
of a pungent gas such as formaldehyde. Also, check your carpet,
upholstery, and draperies for evidence of pungent odors.
Appliances have many parts that collect dust
and other indoor irritants, so give them a thorough cleaning as
often as needed. Be sure to include these parts when cleaning:
heat exchangers, dryer filters, coils on the refrigerator, water
pans under the refrigerator, furnaces, and ducts. Also, clean
or replace air conditioner and heater filters as often as needed.
Aerosol products can be irritating for some
people with respiratory problems. Therefore, use roll-on deodorants
and nonaerosol pump sprays. If an air freshener is needed, use
a "solid"type product.
Babies can inhale the talc from the powder,
possibly causing respiratory problems, and the fragrance from
the powder can be irritating in itself.
Household chemical cleaners
Use baking soda or vinegar and water as household
cleaners. For a job that absolutely requires a chemical, let someone
else do the cleaning. Don't use pesticides indoors; assign this
chore to others (such as a professional exterminator), and be
sure to leave the house for the recommended period of time.
Poor air circulation
Keep the doors of all rooms open to allow for
proper circulation. Open a window for a few minutes several times
a m day during the winter months, and leave a window slightly
open during the summer. Ceiling fans are a good way to increase
circulation, but don't forget to clean them regularly.
Cooking and running water produce enough humidity
in the home on a daily basis. If you feel you need additional
humidity, have someone install a central heat humidifier; refrain
from using room humidifiers or room ultrasonic humidifiers.
Don't use your fireplace as the main source
of heat in your home. Whenever using the fireplace, make sure
the damper is open and that thc chimney is cleaned periodically.
Burn only firewood in your fireplace--not paper or charcoal.
Houseplants are a major source of mold (a common
irritant) because plant soil is usually damp. If you like growing
plants in your house, choose a terrarium that is enclosed. Also,
be aware of bushes and trees located next to the windows where
you sleep or sit frequently. They encourage dampness and mold
Mold and mildew
If you have tiles in your bathroom, wash and
replace grout frequently. Check anyplace that moisture accumulates.
In cellars, basements, and garages, waterproof the cement floofs.
In your kitchen and bathroom, use sheet vinyl instead of vinyl
squares for the floor.
Asbestos and radon gas
Make sure your home is free of asbestos and
radon gas by contacting your local health department for assistance.
When you breathe with the help of this kind
of equipment (compressors, oxygen concentrators, etc.), you run
the risk of breathing in dust as well as any germs that might
be growing there. Clean all equipment thoroughly and frequently.
This includes cleaning any filters that might be a part of the
equipment. Clean medicine nebulizers after each use by using one-part
white vinegar to three-parts water. Let the pieces air-dry thoroughly
on a clean towel before using them again.
Hang all tubes up to dry, and keep oxygen cannulas
clean and free of debris by cicaning them in the same manner as
your nebulizers. Replace your cannulas every two to four weeks
(or more frequently if necessary). Consult with your medical supply
company if you have questions about any of your home respiratory
Reviewed: May 26, 2005