Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is essential to protecting our lungs. However, constant exposure to indoor pollution can significantly affect the health of those living with lung diseases. Identifying the causes of indoor pollution in your home and reducing it will help improve your lung health.
The kitchen has numerous exposures, such as strong cooking smells, smoke, and moisture, which increase mold and mildew growth. Using exhaust fans and opening windows while cooking will significantly decrease these unpleasant smells, smoke, and reduces the moisture in the air, slowing mold and mildew growth.
Mold and mildew growth increases in the bathroom due to moisture. An adequately vented exhaust fan decreases air moisture and mold or mildew growth. If the bathroom lacks correct ventilation, then opening a window will help.
If allergy and asthma issues worsen at bedtime, dust mites could be a contributing factor. To protect against dust mite allergy, try using a dust mite mattress and pillow cover. These covers trap the dust mite inside and prevent them from reaching their food source. Pets in your sleeping area may also worsen your allergy and asthma symptoms.
Anyone in your home who smokes should do so outside, as smoke and vapor from tobacco and e-cigarette products can irritate the lungs of someone with lung disease. You should also encourage them to quit smoking or vaping.
Regular cleaning in your home is good practice and can also help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
When cleaning surfaces with a chemical solution, open a window to vent fumes from your space. If possible, use a bagless vacuum cleaner to keep dust levels in the air low. Avoid using candles or oil-warming plug-ins that produce smoke particles in your home. Studies show that 70-80% of dirt enters our home from our shoes, so having an outdoor mat for wiping shoes will reduce what enters the house.
Many lung irritants are at their highest levels in the basement. Look through your basement and be aware of unusual and unexplained staining. This could be mold. If the basement has a “wet dog” smell, that is also a sign of mold, especially if no dog is present. Mold test kits can be commonly found at large box stores or online. Molds grow well in high humidity. Consider the use of a dehumidifier in the space.
Crawl spaces open to the basement should be insulated and covered with a vapor barrier. Such spaces can be a breeding ground for mold. Keeping them dry and insulated will help keep issues down.
Make sure your attic has proper ventilation. Have a roofer or inspector check this if you don’t know what proper attic venting should be. Improperly ventilated attics can also cause problems with mold growth.
When carpets wear out, consider upgrading to hard surfaces. Harder surfaces do not hold dust, pollen, pet dander, or other lung irritants like carpet does. If one wants to keep the look of a carpet, consider the purchase of carpets with tight weaves. Tight weaves tend not to hold particulate matter as well. Keep your carpet clean by vacuuming and cleaning the carpets periodically.
If not functioning properly, poorly ventilated, or not properly maintained these can lead to high levels of carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide in your home. Have the furnace and water heater checked yearly by a qualified HVAC professional, especially if older than 15 years. Make sure gas dryer vents and lint filters are kept clean and clear. HVAC duct cleaning every three years is also recommended. Remember to change furnace air filters when recommended.
Long-term exposure to high levels of radon can lead to lung cancer. Consider having the house tested for radon if one is unaware of the results of a previous test. Kits are commonly available, or you can hire a state-licensed professional.