Common Asthma Trigger #5: Mold
Outdoor and indoor mold are potent allergens. Mold allergens are particularly prevalent in damp basements or humid bathrooms. Recent evidence suggests a link between sick building syndrome and allergy to fungi and severe asthma.
What can I do?
- Decrease humidity indoors to less than 50%.
- Seal all leaks to prevent water accumulation.
- Increase ventilation by using exhaust fans for bathrooms and kitchen.
- Vent clothes dryers to the outside.
- Use a dehumidifier in basements or other damp areas.
- Use sump pumps in areas that are prone to flooding.
- Use air filters to remove particles from the air (HEPA filters).
- Remove musty-smelling items.
What else can I do?
- Vacuum carpets regularly.
- Treat washable wallpaper and panelling with a 5% bleach and detergent solution (respiratory protection is necessary).
- Regularly maintain, inspect and clean heating, ventilation, and air conditioning appliances.
Special caution: If you are highly sensitive to mold, use special masks when involved in the above preventive activities or ask another, less susceptible person to do them for you.
Please note that these recommendations are preliminary and more scientific research is needed.
Most of the above information derives from a published article by asthma specialist Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Dr Wanda Phipatanakul, of Harvard Medical School and attending physician, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.: 'Environmental Factors and Childhood Asthma'. Pediatric Annals, 35:9; September 2006.
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