Poor Air Quality + Indoor Pollutants = Childhood Asthma
The thought of gasping for your next breath is terrifying. Yet 1 in every 12 children in the U.S. live with this reality because they have asthma.
There’s no cure for asthma.
Your child’s only defense against wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing is all-natural asthma relief solutions and prescription medications designed to lessen their symptoms.
Indoor pollutants are among the culprits causing children to develop this lifelong breathing disease that can cause permanent lung damage.
In this blog, we explore the link between poor indoor air quality and childhood asthma, plus answer some of the following questions:
- What is childhood asthma?
- How does poor indoor air quality contribute to childhood asthma?
- What are some common indoor pollutants?
- How do you reduce indoor pollutants?
What is childhood asthma?
Childhood asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airway. Children who develop the disease suffer from inflammation and narrowing of the air passages, making it difficult for air to move in and out of their lungs.
Asthma episodes are known as asthma attacks. They vary in intensity and frequency. Some children experience only mild and infrequent symptoms. Others find their asthma significantly impacts their lives because of the regularity and intensity of their symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of childhood asthma
Parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals must learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of asthma and work together to develop an asthma management plan.
Recurring episodes of inflammation and constriction of the airways causes children to:
- Cough repeatedly
- Wheeze in a high-pitched whistling sound
- Develop chest tightness
- Experience shortness of breath
Understanding childhood asthma triggers and appropriate treatment options provides the necessary support your child needs to live an active and fulfilling life.
How to get a diagnosis
If you suspect your child might have asthma, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a healthcare professional. Start with your child’s pediatrician, who may refer you to an allergy and immunology specialist for further testing.
To get the most out of your visit, make sure you do the following:
Provide detailed information, including a comprehensive description of symptoms, when they first started, and their intensity. Mention any triggers you suspect.
Request medical testing to confirm or rule out asthma. Some of the most common tests include measuring lung functioning using a spirometer that measures inhalation and exhalation. Allergy testing is sometimes used to determine if asthma is triggered by an allergy to a food or environmental substance.
Make follow-up appointments once asthma is diagnosed to ensure your child is receiving the most effective treatment options.
How does poor indoor air quality contribute to childhood asthma?
Poor indoor air quality is among the contributing factors in developing childhood asthma. Several scientific studies have explored the connection between long-term exposure to pollutants and the development of asthma in children.
Other studies determined that indoor environmental factors like the chemicals in personal care and cleaning products modify the severity of asthma.
Indoor particulate matter’s role in asthma
Particulate matter is the main component of indoor air pollution. It refers to a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets floating in the air. Some particles – dust, dirt, smoke, soot – are large enough that you can see them with your naked eye. Others are so small you can only see them under an electron microscope.
There are two classifications of particulate matter that fall into the indoor pollution category:
- PM10 includes inhalable particles with diameters of 10 micrometers or smaller. That’s roughly the size of the average water droplet.
- 5 includes inhalable particles with diameters of 2.5 micrometers and smaller. If you’re wondering how small that is, the average human hair is about 70 micrometers in diameter. So, these are particles 30 times smaller than a strand of your hair.
Particulate matter of these sizes easily makes its way deep into your lungs. Some may even end up in your bloodstream. Repeat exposure to PM leads to serious health problems, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What are some common indoor pollutants?
Indoor air pollutants are everywhere. You may not even think about it, but some of your favorite products – perfumes, scented candles, air fresheners, cleaning products – are common sources of indoor pollutants.
Chemical pollutants are only one category of contributors to unhealthy indoor air. Some of the other offenders include:
Indoor allergens like dust mites and pet dander contribute to the development of childhood asthma with long-term exposure. Poor air circulation and quality means more of these triggers are floating around inside, irritating the airways until your child ends up with asthma.
Increased humidity contributes to poor indoor air quality by facilitating mold growth inside your home. Mold spores that float around freely can cause allergic reactions. Repeated exposure eventually leads to breathing issues like asthma.
Secondhand smoke is a significant risk factor for developing childhood asthma because it contains harmful chemicals that can hang around in the air.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases released from products such as paints, cleaning supplies, and building materials.
The presence and level of these pollutants varies depending on your geographical location, indoor activities, and lifestyle choices. Identifying and reducing exposure to these indoor pollutants improves indoor air quality and lessens the likelihood of your children developing asthma.
Using all-natural asthma relief products helps level the playing field if you live in an area prone to higher pollution levels.
How do you reduce indoor pollutants?
Reducing asthma triggers goes a long way toward helping your child breathe easier. By improving the indoor air quality in your home, you decrease the chances of your child developing this chronic breathing condition.
Some practical ways to clear the air include:
Avoid smoking indoors. Enforce a strict no-smoking policy inside your home to prevent exposure to secondhand smoke. Designate a smoking area outside your home that’s far enough away from windows and ventilation systems that the smoke won’t be sucked indoors.
Control humidity levels. Aim to keep indoor humidity levels between 30% and 50% to discourage mold growth. Fix leaks promptly and address water damage or dampness issues. Use exhaust fans or open a window when showering. Repeated exposure to mold causes allergies, which can in turn lead to asthma.
Choose low-emissions products. When buying paints, cleaning products, and other household items, look for eco-friendly and fragrance-free options to reduce chemical emissions.
Improve ventilation. Open windows and doors when weather permits to allow fresh air circulation. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas to remove pollutants produced during cooking, showering, and washing laundry. Consider installing an air-to-air heat exchanger or mechanical ventilation system to ensure continuous fresh air exchange.
Maintain HVAC systems. Change filters regularly to prevent the circulation of dust, mold, and other allergens throughout your home. Schedule professional maintenance checks periodically to ensure your HVAC system is functioning properly.
Manage pet allergens. Regularly groom and bathe your pets to minimize shedding and reduce dander. Vacuum and clean surfaces frequently to remove pet hair and dander before it gets circulated in the air and breathed in by small lungs.
Reduce dust. Regularly clean and vacuum carpets, furniture, and other surfaces to reduce dust accumulation. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter that traps small particles more effectively. Wash your child’s bedding, stuffed toys, and curtains regularly. Considering adding a capful of an all-natural asthma relief solution like Easy Air Organic to your wash to keep allergens from sticking to your linens and other items where dust and pet dander like to hang out.
Use air purifiers. Running a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in a portable air purifier removes allergens, dust, and other particles from indoor air. Strategically place them in rooms where your children spend the most time.
Tame indoor allergens for childhood asthma prevention
It’s not always possible to prevent your child from developing asthma. However, you can reduce their chances by committing to steps that tame indoor allergens and pollutants to improve your indoor air quality.
Breathe safe, friends!
About the Author: Shari Berg is a researcher, frequent blogger, feature writer, and author of Wars End with Me.
- Assessing the Impact of Air Pollution on Childhood Asthma Morbidity: How, When and What to Do. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed July 12, 2023.
- Asthma in children. cdc.gov. Accessed July 12, 2023.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). who.int. Accessed July 12, 2023.
- Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposure. epa.gov. Accessed July 12, 2023.
- Particulate Matter (PM) Basics. epa.gov. Accessed July 12, 2023.