10 Tips for Indoor Air Quality for Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a deadly disease caused by a defective gene. The body produces a buildup of thick mucus in those with CF, which coats the lungs and other organs. As mucus gets into the lungs, the person with CF will find it difficult to breathe and is prone to infections from bacteria trapped in their airways. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 30,000 Americans have CF, including both adults and children.
People with CF typically suffer from frequent lung infections, wheezing and coughing. The thick mucus that coats the lungs and airways may cause lung damage or respiratory failure over time. Because respiratory complications are the most serious and common concern for a person with CF, air quality is important. Studies have shown that polluted air results in exacerbated symptoms for those with CF.
By reducing the dust and particle pollutants in the air, exacerbated symptoms are less likely to occur. According to WebMD, expert Nathan Rabinovitch, MD, says an air cleaner should be a backup only applied after exposure to allergens and air pollutants is minimized.
The following tips may help improve indoor air quality for a person suffering with CF symptoms.
1. Reduce the Dust Traps
Fabrics and pads are a natural trap for dust particles. By exchanging carpeted flooring with wood and curtains with blinds, you will reduce the dust in your home.
2. Cover and Launder Regularly
Using a dust cover for your mattress and pillows is an inexpensive way to keep the dust buildup from occurring or escaping into the surrounding air. Also, washing any fabrics in your home on a regular basis will be important for removing and reducing dusty sources. Comforters, throw pillows, throw blankets and curtains are among some of the items that will need to be laundered regularly to improve the indoor air quality for a person with CF.
3. Clean Floors and Surfaces
Vacuuming the floors frequently reduces much of the dust and allergens in your home. A good vacuum with an allergen-reducing filter is important for reducing the dust allowed back into the air during the vacuuming process. Mopping the floors and dusting surfaces afterwards will pick up the smallest particles that the vacuum did not retain.
Avoid tracking in dirt as much as possible, keeping a large floor mat by your doors and removing your shoes once inside. These mats will need to be shaken out regularly (far away from the house), but will eliminate much of the particle pollution which will rest on the floors throughout your home.
4. Reduce Indoor Moisture
Moisture is home to dust mites and mold. A healthy level of moisture is considered to be around 30-50% in your home. If your home is not within this moisture range, use a humidifier or dehumidifier to adjust your levels. You may need different machines on different levels of your home, since basements tend to be moister than upper levels in the house.
5. Avoid Smoke and Fumes
Research has shown the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke in the lungs. With CF, it is very important that smoke is kept far away from the home. Also consider other forms of pollution you should avoid; be careful not to run your car in the garage any longer than necessary and keep the garage door open for a few minutes to let the area air out before entering the house. What’s more, open the windows and turn on a fan if something burns on the stove.
6. Use Natural Cleaning Products and Scents
As you work to keep your home clean, consider carefully the products and fragrances you add to the air. Many lemony or piney scents are chock-full of chemicals that are released into the air. Your cleaning products, air fresheners or laundry detergents could be adding to the poor air quality of your home.
Try fragrance-free laundry soaps and mild cleaners that use natural scents and not artificial ones. Avoid all types of aerosol sprays, including hair sprays, deodorants, cleaners and air fresheners. Try homemade cleaning product recipes with natural products, like lemons, vanilla or baking soda to clean and deodorize your home.
7. Add a Houseguest
Not the kind that add to the air pollution, but the kind that actually filter your air naturally. Did you know there are many houseplants that improve air quality by filtering out common volatile organic compounds and purify the air? These plants not only reduce the bad particles in the air, but they also replace the carbon dioxide you exhale with fresh oxygen.
One of the most common on this list of air-improving plants is the Aloe Vera plant, which is not only capable of clearing the air, but also producing a gel useful for treating cuts and burns. A Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is a common and resilient plant that thrives indoors and battles pollutants in the air. A Snake plant (or mother-in-law’s tongue) is considered a good choice for your bathroom, since it does well in low light, will love the moist conditions and filters out many of the pollutants found in cleaning products, tissues, toilet paper and more.
8. Tone Down the Furry Flurries
If you are thinking of getting a pet, clearly a hypoallergenic pet is the way to go. Fish, lizards or snakes may also be a good choice, since they do not have fur or bring in outdoor dust (although you will have to control reptile habitats to reduce dust). Some types of cats and dogs do not shed and are considered hypoallergenic. A furry friend will need to be regularly groomed, brushed and bathed to reduce any dust or hair that could be released into the air. Also, keep their bed frequently laundered and their crate area well swept out on a frequent basis to eliminate any shedding or dirt that may have been tracked in.
9. Replace Quality Air Filters
Your filters should be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis at the start of each season. While you may add an air filtering machine to your home, it is important to ensure dust is not being blown throughout your home because of bad or dirty filters. A quality air filter in your ducts will reduce dust, pet dandruff and seasonal allergens that are airborne throughout your home.
10. Clean Air Ducts Regularly
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not found clear evidence on whether or not regularly cleaning your ducts will actually reduce the pollutants in your home. They have found that much of the dirt actually adheres to the duct walls and is not blown back out into the home. The EPA recommends cleaning air ducts when a noticeable problem arises. Those with CF may be wise to consider cleaning the ducts of a new home before moving in, since the level of pollution (smoke, pet dandruff, etc.) or last duct cleaning is most likely unknown.