Environmental issues in managing asthma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Management of asthma requires attention to environmental exposures both indoors and outdoors. Americans spend most of their time indoors, where they have a greater ability to modify their environment. The indoor environment contains both pollutants (eg, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, secondhand smoke, and ozone) and allergens from furred pets, dust mites, cockroaches, rodents, and molds. Indoor particulate matter consists of particles generated from indoor sources such as cooking and cleaning activities, and particles that penetrate from the outdoors. Nitrogen dioxide sources include gas stoves, furnaces, and fireplaces. Indoor particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are linked to asthma morbidity. The indoor ozone concentration is mainly influenced by the outdoor ozone concentration. The health effects of indoor ozone exposure have not been well studied. In contrast, there is substantial evidence of detrimental health effects from secondhand smoke. Guideline recommendations are not specific for optimizing indoor air quality. The 2007 National Asthma Education and Prevention Program asthma guidelines recommend eliminating indoor smoking and improving the ventilation. Though the guidelines state that there is insufficient evidence to recommend air cleaners, air cleaners and reducing activities that generate indoor pollutants may be sound practical approaches for improving the health of individuals with asthma. The guidelines are more specific about allergen avoidance; they recommend identifying allergens to which the individual is immunoglobin E sensitized and employing a multifaceted, comprehensive strategy to reduce exposure. Outdoor air pollutants that impact asthma include particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, and guidelines recommend that individuals with asthma avoid exertion outdoors when these pollutants are elevated. Outdoor allergens include tree, grass, and weed pollens, which vary in concentration by season. Recommendations to reduce exposure include staying indoors, keeping windows and doors closed, using air conditioning and perhaps high-efficiency particulate arrestor (HEPA) air filters, and thorough daily washing to remove allergens from one's person.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-615
Number of pages14
JournalRespiratory care
Volume53
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2008

Keywords

  • Allergens
  • Asthma
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Ozone
  • Particulate matter
  • Pollutants
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Sulfur dioxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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