5 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality
People who have COPD tend to spend a lot of time indoors, so paying attention to your indoor air quality can have huge benefits for your respiratory health. We tend to hear a lot more, though, about outdoor air pollution than we do about indoor air quality.
Here are a few tips that can help you improve the air quality inside your home.
Reduce your allergens
If you also suffer from allergies or allergic asthma, then allergens can increase the inflammation in your airways. That can make breathing even more difficult than usual with COPD. Allergens are external substances that put your immune system into overdrive. Common examples of indoor allergens are pet dander, molds and dust.
Anything you can do to reduce your exposure to these allergens may help you breathe easier.
Identify respiratory irritants and reduce them
Irritants are external substances that irritate your respiratory tract, without actually producing an allergic response. Examples could be:
- wood smoke
- fumes from paint and household chemicals
- perfumes and other strong odors
Take steps to avoid coming into contact with such substances. Look for natural and/or unscented alternatives for cleaning products, cosmetics such as hair sprays, candles and air fresheners and craft supplies. If products must be stored, then make sure they are tightly closed to prevent escape of odors and pollutants.
Improve the ventilation in your home
Air needs to be recirculated to stay fresh and to dilute indoor pollutants. So, use exhaust fans where you can. Run the air conditioner as weather permits. Having windows open can also help, provided you are not sensitive to outdoor allergens such as pollen and molds.
Air purifiers can also be helpful. Central systems are most efficient, but a room air purifier can also be used in the rooms in which you spend most of your time. Make sure the purifier you use has a HEPA filter and does not produce ozone.
Every home should have a working carbon monoxide alarm as well. Update the batteries regularly. Also, make sure to change or clean the filters in your furnace and air conditioner regularly, following the instructions on the package.
Adjust your indoor humidity
Humidity can affect the concentrations of indoor air pollutants. One common example is molds. Try to keep your indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent. You can use a moisture or humidity gauge to see if the humidity in your home is at a good level.
If you wish to increase your humidity, you can use a vaporizer or humidifier. If your humidity levels are too high, opening the windows will help, unless it is very humid outdoors. Or, in warm weather, running the air conditioner or adjusting the humidity setting on a humidifier, if you have one should help.
Add some houseplants to your indoor space
Did you know that certain houseplants can actually improve your indoor air quality? Some studies suggest that certain plants can filter volatile organic compounds (VOCs for short) out of your air. VOCs include things like carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, benzene and mercury.These VOCs can result from building materials, using home & personal care products and even from smoke and cooking byproducts. These compounds are known to worsen symptoms in people who suffer from respiratory conditions such as COPD.
Some examples of houseplants that may help filter VOCs out of your indoor air include:
- Peace lily
- Boston fern
- Devil's ivy and English ivy
- Lady, Dwarf Date & Areca palms
- Rubber plant
- Weeping fig
Houseplants may improve air quality in your home. But, keep in mind that if you are allergic to molds, houseplant soil may contain mold spores. That means they could actually worsen your COPD symptoms. So, if you decide to add houseplants, do so carefully and gradually to see how you respond.
Do you have a COPD exacerbation tool kit?