Does Air Quality Affect Asthma?

No matter how hard you try, air pollution is nearly inevitable in everyday life. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air pollution encompasses both visible and invisible airborne gases and particles that are not naturally part of the air. It can come from both naturally occurring and man-made sources. 

It’s common knowledge that asthma is typically triggered by allergens. But can the quality of air also impact your asthma? Let’s find out. 

So, Does Air Pollution Affect Asthma?

The short answer is — yes, it does! Airborne pollutants can act the same way as other asthma triggers. They can irritate the airways, cause inflammation and tightness, and induce breathing problems. Pollutants also increase the chances of catching upper respiratory illnesses, which can trigger asthma symptoms. 

It’s critical for anyone with asthma to avoid air pollution. Furthermore, some people are at a heightened risk and may be more affected, such as asthmatic children and young adults whose lungs are still developing, asthmatic elderly who have other comorbidities, those with severe asthma, and those with hay fever. 

Research has consistently indicated that polluted air can aggravate the symptoms of asthma. In a study conducted on young asthmatic campers, 40% of the participants were more likely to have a severe asthmatic episode on summer days when pollution levels were high, as compared to summer days when pollution levels were average.  

These results are echoed by multiple studies that were collaborated with, or funded by (in part or in full), the EPA:

  • In a study on African American adolescents with difficult-to-treat asthma, researchers found that increased levels of ozone were linked to decreased lung function, despite being on asthma medication. 
  • Researchers from Johns Hopkins University studied data from almost eight million children between the ages of five and 20 between 2009 and 2010. They found that exposure to coarse particulate matter, which can come from roadway particles and combinations of metals and road dust, can increase children’s likelihood to develop asthma.  

Elements that Affect Air Quality

Many airborne particles can trigger asthma, such as:

  • Ozone – This is a common air pollutant that contributes to haze or smog. It’s formed when chemicals from cars, factories, and power plants react to sunlight. Ozone is more prevalent in cities where there are a lot of cars, as well as during summer when there are low winds and more sunlight. High ozone levels are known to directly cause asthma attacks, as they irritate the airways and induce breathing problems. 
  • Particle pollution – This includes a myriad of small particles, such as smoke, soot, dirt, and dust, that can hang in the air, penetrate the lungs, and make it difficult to breathe. 
  • Indoor air pollution – No matter how much you try, everyday activities may cause air pollution to accumulate inside your home. Common sources of air pollution indoors are:
  • Fumes from household cleaning products, air-freshening sprays, cosmetics, perfumes, hair sprays, etc. 
  • Wood-burning stoves and other heat sources that burn fuel.
  • Fumes released by the “off-gassing” of new furniture, carpet, etc. 
  • Smoke created by cooking, fireplaces, candles, and cigarettes.
  • Building products, paints, solvents, and adhesives.
  • Pesticides.
  • Monoxide from attached garages.
  • Humidity, which encourages the growth of mold

What Can You Do to Manage Your Asthma?

Just as how you’d take precautions to manage your exposure to allergens, there are also safety measures you can implement to reduce the air pollution you breathe in. Here are a few tips on how you can manage asthma triggered by bad air quality:

  • Monitor the Air Quality Index (AQI) – You’ll find daily information on air quality from weather reports published online or in newspapers. You can also check which uses data from the EPA and its various partners, like the National Weather Service, National Association of Clean Air Agencies, and the CDC. The site declares the daily levels of ground-level ozone, particle pollution, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide. 
  • Reduce outdoor activities on poor air quality days – Try to limit your time outside when weather reports declare that the day’s air quality will be poor. If possible, do your outdoor activities in the afternoon, when the air quality is a little better, or during low-traffic times. If you play outdoor sports, check for suitable arrangements, such as practicing in an indoor, air-conditioned gym.  
  • Improve your indoor air quality – It’s inevitable for air pollution to accumulate inside your home. Everyday activities like cooking, using aerosol products for cleaning and personal care, and smoking can lead to poor air quality indoors.

To improve the quality of air inside your home, consider the following tips:

  • Hinder the potential growth of mold by reducing indoor humidity. You can do this by using an indoor dehumidifier, an exhaust fan, or opening a window to air out areas of the home that are frequently damp, such as the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. 
  • Increase airflow by opening windows and doors when possible. But only do this if you live in an area where outdoor air quality is good. Do not do this if you reside in an area that is prone to allergens and polluted air. 
  • Some level of smoke indoors may be unavoidable, especially if you frequently cook at home. But minimize the accumulation of this pollutant by avoiding smoking or lighting candles indoors. 
  • Regularly clean the air by using an air purifier with a true high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. This is one of the most trusted filter types, as it’s tested to catch at least 99.97% of airborne pollutants that are 0.3 microns in size. This diameter is the worst case and most penetrating particle size (MPPS), so particles that are larger than this are caught by a true HEPA filter at a more efficient rate. 

The Sans air purifier is engineered to provide optimal air purification, with a three-stage filtration system and UV-C light sterilization. 

Sans is built with a HEPA 13 filter, a medical-grade air filter that’s tested to catch at least 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size, as well as 99.95% of particles that are 0.1 microns in size. This filter is protected by a pre-filter that traps large pollutants like dust and hair. The activated carbon filter neutralizes harmful chemicals and volatile organic compounds in the air, like formaldehyde, fumes from aerosol products, and the “off-gassing” of fabrics and furniture. 

Ensure you always have good air quality inside the home with a Sans air purifier. Shop our collection today!