If you or someone in your family suffers from acute allergies or asthma, then you already know that even the slightest thing can trigger symptoms: changes in local climate, exposure to chemicals, new fragrances, off-gassing, or even leaning over to pet the neighbor’s dog. In public areas, it’s hard – if not impossible – to control an environment.
At home, however, it’s becoming increasingly easier to create an indoor space that’s conducive to your wellness needs. In fact, more and more designers, builders and construction companies are incorporating allergy- and asthma-friendly design into new homes, helping turn them into the ultimate haven for anyone with respiratory or breathing issues.
In recent years, 60 Breathe Easy Homes were built in Seattle as part of a project by the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), becoming some of the first homes in the nation to be built specifically to improve indoor air quality. Public health officials conducted extensive research of other projects and worked with SHA to determine the best construction and design practices to minimize respiratory risk factors and asthma triggers.
According to a report by the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH), Breathe Easy Homes “are built with air-tight construction with insulated windows and foundations to minimize the intrusion of dust, pollen, and other contaminants into the units. Airtight drywall construction reduces air leakage and mold growth. Positive ventilation removes stale air and filters incoming fresh air. A hydronic heating system, which uses hot water instead of forced air, reduces airborne particulates. Window blinds instead of curtains are installed to reduce dust. Marmoleum (a type of linoleum) covers most of the floors in the units instead of dust-trapping carpet and each unit comes with a High Efficiency Particle Air (HEPA) vacuum.”
The value of the Breathe Easy homes is measurable: the NCHH report noted that asthmatic children in Breathe Easy Homes had 63% more symptom-free days than in their previous homes and that their improved health resulted in a 66% reduction in the need for urgent medical care. And as asthma symptoms and triggers decline, the family’s quality of life improves: fewer sleepless nights, less lost work and school time, increased exercise and outdoor activities, and lower medical expenses.
Even if you’re not building a new home from the ground up, there are still measures can take to make your home more hospitable to those living with allergies and asthma.
- Mold and mildew is anathema for anyone with breathing or respiratory issues. Repair any leaks and consider installing a dehumidifier to reduce the excess moisture in your home. Update weather stripping on windowsills and doors to keep water out.
- Repainting or staining? Look into low-VOC options. They emit far fewer lung-irritating fumes and won’t leave behind the odor often associated with typical paints and varnishes.
- If you’re considering new furniture, choose solid wood over pressed or particleboard furniture. These materials often contain high amounts of VOCs like formaldehyde.
- Change your furnace/HVAC filters often, and use high-quality HEPA filters. If your HVAC system is old, consider an upgrade – you’ll be able to tell a difference in the air quality within your home if you do.
- Vacuum regularly and keep floors clean. Everything settles on the floor – dust, dirt, pet dander, and other contaminants. Choose a vacuum with a sealed HEPA filter to prevent debris pulled from the carpet from blowing back out into the environment.
- Invest in an air purifier. The best ones can significantly improve the indoor air quality within a home, helping the occupants sleep and feel better – simply because they can breathe better! Dust, dust mites, pet dander, contaminants and odors can all be either greatly reduced or eliminated with the proper air purification systems.
Our pick? The Beyond Guardian Air. It’s the only air purifier on the market that uses an exclusive combination of technologies, including ion generation, a better-than-HEPA filter, Photocatalytic Oxidation and our proprietary ActivePure Technology, which has been university tested and proven effective on bacteria, viruses, mold and fungi in the air and on surfaces.