Studies show that poor outdoor air quality can worsen asthma and allergies. This news may make you think you need to stay indoors to avoid air pollution. But your indoor air may actually be worse than the outdoor air.
Proper asthma and allergy management involves more than taking your medicines. You also have to think about the quality of the air where you spend your time. You may have heard that you should reduce the allergens in your home. That’s a great start. But that’s only a part of what it takes to create healthy indoor air.
The Truth About Indoor Air Quality
Particles or gasses that are not normally part of the air affect air quality. This is called air pollution. Air pollution can also happen indoors. Why is this?
- Bad outdoor air can enter your home. You bring outdoor air inside any time you open a door or window. You can also bring in pollen and smoke. Leaks around doors and windows can let polluted outdoor air in too.
- Indoor air also has allergens like dust, pet dander and mold.
- Building materials, furniture and carpets can release chemicals into the air.
Clean outdoor air needs to replace indoor air often or else the indoor air becomes more polluted. That means allergens, smells and pollutants stay in your home and recirculate.
If you have pollen allergies or allergic asthma, you’ll want to keep your windows closed when pollen is high. If you follow AirNow.gov air quality reports, you’ll also want to stay inside in the air conditioning and keep your windows closed on days when the air quality is bad. If you don't have air conditioning and the heat is also high, consider going to places like the mall or the library to avoid the poor air quality and the heat. What can you do to improve your indoor air quality?
Improve Your Bedroom’s Environment
We spend one-third of our lives in our bedrooms. But it can have the worst air quality of any room in your home. Your bedroom may be full of allergens, asthma triggers, scents and chemicals.
Reduce Allergens and Triggers
The bedroom tends to have the highest amount of allergens. As you try to improve your indoor air quality, start with your bedroom first. Here are some ways to reduce bedroom allergens:
- Use Certified asthma & allergy friendly® allergen barrier bedding.
- Wash sheets once a week in 130°F water.
- Keep pets out of your bedroom and off your bed.
- Don’t let wet or damp clothing pile up.
- Replace your mattress every 10 years and pillows every two years.
- Vacuum floors and mattresses weekly.
If your bedroom has a connected bathroom, don’t forget about the allergens in there too.
- Run a fan or vent for at least 15-20 minutes after showering to prevent mold.
- Fix leaks in or near sinks, toilets, tubs and showers.
- Allow towels and wash clothes to dry thoroughly after bathing.
- Clean your shower, tub and sinks often with vinegar or detergent and water to keep mold from building up.
- Clean under sinks and behind toilets often where mold and other allergens may build up.
- If you already have mold, clean it as soon as possible with detergent and water. Wear a mask or have someone else clean it for you.
Keep the Outside From Getting In
When the outdoor air has poor quality, you’ll want to reduce it from getting inside as much as possible. It’s impossible to keep all outdoor allergens and from getting in your bedroom. But there are things you can do to reduce exposure:
- Shower and shampoo your hair every night before going to bed to remove pollen from your hair.
- If you work outside, change clothes outside of the bedroom.
- Seal air leaks in windows and doors leading outside.
- Use a Certified asthma & allergy friendly® air cleaner.
Reduce Scents and Chemicals
Scents and chemicals in your bedroom can affect your air quality. Even pleasant scents, like candles, plug-ins and potpourri, can cause asthma symptoms.
New furniture, especially mattresses, can have a strong scent. This is called offgassing. It is the release of gasses from chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
While experts don’t know if VOCs have any long-term effects, they do know VOCs can have some short-term effects. Some VOCs can cause:
If you have asthma, let your new bedroom furniture air out in another room or garage before you move it into your bedroom. Remove any plastic or wrappings. You could also check with the company you buy your furniture from to see if they would let your furniture air out in their warehouse before they deliver it.
Paint and new building materials can release VOCs too. So if you remodel your bedroom, make plans to use another room until the scents are gone.
1. Volatile Organic Compounds' Impact on Indoor Air Quality. (2017, April 19). Retrieved September 14, 2017, from https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air...t-indoor-air-quality