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Can the air in your house make you sick

Child Health

Child Health

Child Health
Source: Canadian Health Network

This is the first of two articles on children and respiratory health. Part one examines the effects of poor indoor air quality on children. Part two, coming at the beginning of March, will focus on managing children’s asthma.

Canadians spend roughly 90 percent of their time inside homes and buildings that are increasingly airtight and often poorly ventilated. Children can be exposed to indoor air contaminants that derive mainly from human activity, combustion appliances and building materials.

Children are more vulnerable than adults are to indoor air pollution, and exposure to indoor contaminants can have a significant impact on a child’s respiratory system. Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. The rising number of cases is partly due to poor air quality. Exposure to respiratory allergens at an early age increases the likelihood of health problems such as asthma later in life. You can lower your children’s risk of respiratory disease by taking a few simple precautions around your home.

There are many different kinds of contaminants that can affect the quality of the air in your home. Most fall into one of two main categories – biological and chemical contaminants.

Biological contaminants

Mites

Mites are extremely small animals that live in dust and require a warm, humid environment to reproduce. Mite droppings are the main source of allergens in Canadian homes. Mites live primarily in mattresses, pillows and carpets. Nearly 80 percent of asthmatic children are allergic to mites to some degree. When mite droppings, which are suspended in the air, come into contact with the skin or the respiratory system, they trigger allergic reactions such as asthma, chronic colds and allergic inflammation of the skin (dermatitis).

Mites are extremely small animals that live in dust and require a warm, humid environment to reproduce. Mite droppings are the main source of allergens in Canadian homes. Mites live primarily in mattresses, pillows and carpets.

Nearly 80 percent of asthmatic children are allergic to mites to some degree. When mite droppings, which are suspended in the air, come into contact with the skin or the respiratory system, they trigger allergic reactions such as asthma, chronic colds and allergic inflammation of the skin (dermatitis).
It is nearly impossible to avoid mite allergens completely, but even a small reduction may help reduce allergic reactions:

  • Maintain air humidity below 50 percent
  • Increase ventilation in the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen
  • Avoid objects that collect dust (i.e. wall carpets, heavy curtains, non-washable stuffed animals)
  • Clean carpets, rugs, sheets and fabric-covered furniture frequently, and use pillow and mattress covers
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