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Let’s Clear the Air Controlling Asthma and Allergy Triggers in Your Home.

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Presentation on theme: "Let’s Clear the Air Controlling Asthma and Allergy Triggers in Your Home."— Presentation transcript:

1 Let’s Clear the Air Controlling Asthma and Allergy Triggers in Your Home

2 What is asthma? Who is most at risk to get asthma? What does the indoor environment have to do with asthma? How can you reduce exposure to indoor asthma triggers? Topics Covered

3 What is Asthma? A chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways It is treatable, but not yet curable It is not the same as allergies, but allergies MAY cause asthma Not contagious Can be life-threatening!

4 Asthma Facts About 17 million Americans have asthma, including about 7 Million children It is the most common chronic childhood disease. 1 out of every 10 North Carolina children has asthma Asthma causes more hospital stays than any other childhood disease Cost of lost workdays of parents with asthmatic children is near $1 billion It is a leading cause of school absences

5 Who is most at risk to suffer from asthma? Children Low-income, urban residents Some minorities Allergic individuals People with hereditary disposition for asthma (genetics)

6 What happens during an asthma episode? Airways narrow, caused by:  tightening of the muscles that surround the airways  swelling of the inner lining  increase in mucous production

7 Warning Signs of Asthma Coughing (especially when it is not a cold) Wheezing (a squeaking sound when breathing) Fast breathing Poor skin color Shortness of breath Hunched over posture Restless during sleep Fatigue Space between the ribs may sink in when breathing Anxiety Vomiting

8 Warning Signs of Asthma Strained breathing Prominent neck muscles Out of breath after physical activity IMPORTANT: These symptoms don’t necessarily mean it is asthma

9 Asthma can be controlled! There are excellent medicines available now that can control asthma--some must be taken on a daily basis Environmental “triggers” of asthma--which are different for everyone--can be controlled to reduce asthma symptoms There are other triggers, including exercise, respiratory issues, cold weather Our focus today is on Environmental Triggers

10 Common Asthma Triggers Allergens Molds Dust Animals Pollen Food Pests (cockroaches) Irritants Secondhand smoke Strong odors Ozone Chemicals/cleaning compounds

11 Other asthma triggers Viral respiratory infections colds flu often worse at night after lying down Exercise Changes in weather cold air wind humidity

12 Indoor Air Pollution: A Major Health Concern Most people spend 90% of their time indoors Toxin levels indoors may be higher than outdoors because of energy tight buildings Most of the common asthma triggers are found indoors

13 5 Most Common Indoor Environmental Triggers Secondhand Smoke Dust Mites Mold Pets Cockroaches

14 Other Indoor Triggers: Household Products Vapors from cleaning solvents (non-water based), paint, liquid bleach, mothballs, glue Spray deodorants, perfume bleach, pesticides, oven cleaners, drain openers, aerosol spray products

15 Recognize asthma triggers to control indoor air Not all triggers affect every person 3 Basic Strategies to improve indoor air quality:  identify the problem  control the source  mitigation--get rid of the pollutant or triggering substance

16 Pollen Transported by wind Grass, ragweed, pine, birch, oak trees Can get indoors during pollen season Close windows during pollen season Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows

17 Secondhand Smoke Contains more than 4,000 substances (over 40 are carcinogenic) Is particularly harmful to young children Can trigger asthma attacks Causes coughing, excess phlegm, reduced lung capacity and other lung irritation

18 Dust Mites Too small to be seen Found almost everywhere! Live in soft bedding Feed on dead skin cells Mites and mite droppings can be asthma triggers Live in warm, humid places

19 Avoiding Dust Mite Triggers Wash sheets and blankets once a week in very HOT water (130 F) Use air conditioner in summer to lower humidity levels Remove carpets if possible Damp clean hard surfaces Vacuum often with HEPA vacuum or microfiltration bags Low indoor humidity-between 30-50%

20 Avoiding Dust Mite Triggers Cover mattresses and pillows in dust-proof (allergen- impermeable) zippered covers Vacuum mattress, chairs and carpeting Replace pillows every 5 years

21 Pets/Animals Skin flakes, urine, and saliva of warm blooded animals can be asthma triggers Triggers can remain inside for several months after an animal is removed, even with cleaning

22 Molds A type of fungus Grow on damp surfaces Molds grow by releasing spores Grow on organic materials: wood, drywall, wallpaper, carpet, foods

23 Avoiding Mold Triggers Mold problems are caused by excess moisture  Correct the moisture problem first! Maintain low indoor humidity (between 30-50%)  Warm air holds more water than cold air Fix leaky plumbing Empty and regularly clean refrigerator drip pans

24 Avoiding Mold Triggers Run a bathroom fan during bathing Exhaust the dryer to the outdoors Control moisture in the crawlspace Replace carpet with hard- surface floors in basement Use air conditioner to lower humidity Don’t need to test for mold-- if you see it or smell it—then you have mold Clean up small areas with a bleach solution--  1/2 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water Limit houseplants--since soil/leaves contain mold--at least in bedrooms Clean when children are not present

25 Pests (especially Cockroaches) Many people are allergic to the body parts and droppings of cockroaches People who have dust allergies frequently have cockroach allergies

26 Avoiding Pests 3 steps to avoid pests indoors: 1.Prevention 2.Identification 3.Control Get rid of places for pests to hide and sources of food and water reduce clutter (boxes, stacks of newspapers, grocery bags) do not leave food or garbage out clean up food spills and crumbs caulk cracks and crevices

27 Air Cleaners and Filters Use Air Cleaners only as a last resort HEPA filters (High Efficiency Particle Air) Do not use air cleaning devices that produce ozone

28 Actions to Control Asthma in the Home Control the environment to prevent triggers: dust, pests, mold, secondhand smoke, strong odors and cleaning solvents

29 For More Information and Credits The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The American Lung Association LUNG-USA Thanks to the Healthy Indoor Air for America’s Homes project for photos and background information: This presentation is adapted from one developed by Laura Booth, Auburn University


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