October is Indoor Air Quality Month

Oct 04, 2010, 15:41 ET from American Lung Association in North Dakota

How Improving Air Quality Can Benefit People Suffering from Asthma

BISMARCK, N.D., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During the month of October North Dakota brings awareness to indoor air quality. Several factors contribute to poor indoor air quality including radon, tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide, and allergens from mold, insects, and pets. All North Dakotans could benefit from improving air quality, specifically households with members suffering from asthma.

"An asthma attack causes a person's airways to constrict, swell, and fill with mucus; this causes coughing and wheezing making it difficult to breathe," explains Jill Heins, American Lung Association. In severe cases, asthma attacks can be deadly killing on average 11 people each day in the United States. Asthma is the leading cause of emergency room visits and missed days of school for children and contributes to 12 million days of missed work for adults.

"Outdoor air quality is also an issue." In recent years, studies show that air pollution is a major cause of asthma attacks. Air pollutants that can trigger asthma come from car exhaust, coal-powered plants, oil refineries, diesel engines, dust, soot, ash, wood smoke, and sulfate aerosols.

For people with asthma, limiting exposure to these harmful pollutants can be an important step in preventing asthma attacks. The EPA releases a daily Air Quality Index that provides five stages of air quality from good to hazardous that are represented by a value and a color. "The Minnesota Department of Health recently released length of outdoor exposure in association with this index," said Heins. (http://www.health.state.mn.us/asthma/documents/mnairqualitycolorguideschools0510.pdf). "The index suggests that individuals with sensitive respiratory systems limit their outdoor activities lasting longer than one hour when the air quality value is in the yellow range."

Many people with asthma struggle with indoor and outdoor allergies. The most common allergies are pollen, grass, ragweed, molds, dust mites, and animals. Ragweed is at its peak in the fall. If you think you suffer from allergies talk to your doctor to get tested.

To make the air we breathe cleaner, everyone can take steps to creating healthier environments. To protect against allergens use a HEPA vacuum cleaner, do not allow smoking indoors or in your car, clean furniture regularly, use hypo-allergenic mattress covers and pillow casings, and use a dehumidifier. To help improve air quality outdoors, you can use a cleaner burning fuel such as E85 or biodiesel. For more information about asthma, air quality, and cleaner fuels visit www.lungnd.org.

SOURCE American Lung Association in North Dakota