(StatePoint) Asthma is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult for over 24 million Americans. While there’s no cure, there are steps you can take to help control it so you can lead a normal, healthy life.
This is why the American Lung Association’s Promoting Asthma Friendly Environments through Partnerships and Collaborations Project is seeking to ensure more people live, work and go to school in asthma-friendly environments. Here’s what to know:
- Understanding triggers. Asthma triggers can cause symptoms and if left untreated, could lead to an asthma attack. Common asthma triggers include respiratory infections, allergens, irritants, exercise and emotions. Indoor triggers found at home, school and workplaces include tobacco smoke, dust mites, pests such as cockroaches and mice, pets, mold, cleaning chemicals, dust, gases, vapors and fumes. Common outdoor asthma triggers include pollen, wildfire smoke, ozone and particle pollution.
- Reducing home triggers. People spend over 90% of their time indoors and most of that time is in their home. Whether you rent or own your home, you can make these changes to improve the quality of the air you breathe:
• Run the bathroom fan after showers and use the kitchen fan while cooking to control moisture and other air pollutants.
• Use vacuums with good filtration, such as a HEPA filter.
• Properly store food and other items that attract pests.
• Make your home (and vehicle) smoke free.
Additional actions you can take include improving ventilation, maintaining HVAC systems and using integrated pest management. If you rent, some of these solutions would be the responsibility of the landlord. Learn more about how to improve the indoor air quality of your home as a tenant by reviewing the guide developed by the Environmental Law Institute found at eli.org.
- Taking action for children. Children’s respiratory systems are still developing, making them particularly vulnerable to air pollution. However, 95% of American school buses are diesel-powered. To learn more about how to advocate for your school district to modify older diesel school buses or transition to zero-emission electric school buses, visit lung.org.
- Healthier workplaces. About one is six cases of adult-onset asthma can be linked to the individual’s occupation and about one in five adults with asthma experience worsening of symptoms because of where they work. Missed workdays and lost worker productivity due to asthma can be costly for individuals who live with asthma and employers. By establishing lung-friendly workplace policies and offering an employee asthma education program, employers can help employees and family members with asthma better manage their conditions and experience fewer symptoms. If you have asthma or are a caregiver for someone with asthma, consider speaking to your employer about instituting policies that promote a safe, healthy workplace.
- Additional guidance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Asthma Control Program developed “EXHALE” a set of six strategies that help contribute to better asthma control. The strategies can help you and your loved ones have fewer asthma symptoms, prevent emergency visits to the hospital and help you avoid missing school or work. To learn the strategies and for additional resources, visit cdc.gov. You can also check out the range of asthma programs and initiatives offered by the American Lung Association that align with the EXHALE strategies by visiting lung.org/AFE.