May 6, 2015
May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and it’s peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers. Asthma affects over 25 million Americans and 50 million have nasal allergies. While we so often think of these conditions in relation to the outside air, pollen, and other pollutants, indoor air quality is a huge asthma and allergy trigger. Common household cleaning products can affect indoor air quality as well as dust mites, mold, pet dander, hair, and secondhand smoke.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) says that there are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings; and products for household cleaning and maintenance, and personal care.
A big culprit in indoor air quality issues are volatile organic compounds or VOCs released when using common cleaning products contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches according to the American Lung Association. These cleaning products include:
- Aerosol spray products, including health, beauty and cleaning products
- Air fresheners
- Chlorine bleach;
- Detergent and dishwashing liquid
- Dry cleaning chemicals
- Rug and upholstery cleaners
- Furniture and floor polish
- Oven cleaners
So what is a person to do? Here are a few easy household cleaning tips to help you improve indoor air quality and control asthma and allergy symptoms.
Living Areas and Bedrooms
Use a cannister vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. In the bedrooms, cover pillows, mattresses, and box springs with dust mite covers and wash sheets and blankets regularly in 130° F water. And, keep windows closed during pollen season. Avoid installing carpeting in living areas opting for easy-to-clean wood, tile, or linoleum flooring instead.
Kitchens and Laundry Rooms
Use exhaust fans when cooking to reduce fumes. Make baking soda your all-purpose cleaner to absorb odors, scrub sinks, and clean other surfaces. For countertop and surface cleaning, use a 50/50 vinegar and water solution. Wipe down cabinets and appliances and wash floors weekly with natural, homemade cleaners and microfiber cleaning cloths to reduce pollen and dust indoors. And, clean the inside of utensil drawers regularly.
Control mold-causing moisture in the bathroom by using a bathroom exhaust fan when showering. Avoid use of aerosol sprays such as hairspray or bathroom deodorizers. Use vinegar and water or baking soda and water paste to clean bathroom surfaces. And watch for signs of mold around tubs and other moist surfaces.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) avoiding asthma triggers is the best way to prevent asthma episodes and reduce the need for medication. Taking a few easy steps to improve indoor air quality in your home can help you breathe easily.