[ecis2016.org] Asthma can be caused by a variety of allergens, many of which may even be common in one’s home. We suggest some home improvement tips, to keep your home asthma-free, on this World Asthma Day
About 300 million people suffer from asthma, worldwide. Ten per cent of those, live in India. Despite advances in medicine and better technology, the number of asthma patients, has steadily climbed over the years. Asthma typically tends to affect babies, children and elderly people. Its symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and wheezing. However, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the triggers that cause asthma.
You are reading: How to keep asthma at bay, in your home
What causes asthma?
It can be set off by a variety of allergens, such as pollen, indoor dampness, hair shed by pets, dust mites and mold. Inappropriate moisture conditions, are a major trigger of asthma, and dampness in particular, can exacerbate a patient’s condition. It is therefore, crucial to guard your home against moisture.
If your family members constantly suffer from wheezing and cough, the real culprit could be leakage and dampness inside your own home. Research now suggests that there is sufficient evidence, to link indoor exposure to mold and dampness on the walls with upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing and wheezing in healthy people. It can worsen the symptoms in people with asthma and result in respiratory illnesses or shortness of breath in otherwise healthy children.
Mold produces allergens and irritants. Inhaling or touching it may, therefore, cause allergic reactions, such as sneezing, running nose, asthma attacks, red eyes and rashes. This is why it is crucial to watch out for signs of dampness or leakage in your house and get it corrected, before your family’s health gets affected. Mold can grow in ceiling corners, bathrooms, damp patches on walls, kitchen cabinets with leakage around it, window frames, wallpaper on a damp wall and so on.
Common causes for dampness on walls
However, cleaning or wiping damp patches on the walls, is not a solution, as mold will keep recurring till you correct the source of the dampness. Mold is usually noticeable. It has a velvety, fuzzy or rough appearance and can be black, white, blue, yellow, or green in colour and has a musty or stale smell. Moisture in buildings is caused, mainly due to leaking pipes, dampness in basements or the ground floor, or seepage from damaged roofs, window frames and the terrace. In a newly-constructed building, dampness may occur because the water used in construction may not have properly dried out.
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Besides affecting the health of the occupants, persistent dampness will also affect the building structure. To fix the issue, one needs to undertake a proper waterproofing solution that not only stops the seepage but also helps home owners to maintain a healthy home.
If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the source of the problem. Here is how to do it:
- Keep humidity levels in your home low. You can use an air-conditioner or dehumidifier, to do this. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day.
- Ensure that your home is well-ventilated. Use exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen. Air the room, when the weather is sunny.
- Do not dry clothes inside the house. This will cause mold to worsen.
- Do a thorough check of your terrace. See if any rainwater drainage pipes are clogged. Accumulation of water on the terrace, may cause the water to leak into the building structure. Fix any minor cracks with a good waterproofing product.
- Fix any leaks inside the bathroom. Water may leak into the gaps between bathroom tiles and cause dampness. Add mold inhibitors to paints, while painting the house and use products in bathrooms that deter the growth of mold.
- Remove or replace carpets and upholstery from damp rooms, as these will retain moisture and encourage the growth of mold.
(The writer is COO, construction chemicals, Pidilite Industries Ltd)
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