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Keeping your home’s air healthy for everyone

Photo of Environmental Health Specialist Judy Olsen
by Judy Olsen05/05/2020 4:10 p.m.
Updated: 05/06/2020

Gov. Inslee extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order through May 31. If you’re not an essential worker like a healthcare provider or first responder, you’re probably spending a lot more time at home than you’re used to. 

Our homes are likely more crowded, noisy and dirty than usual. 

Indoor air can be dirtier than outdoor air. Pollens and particles get trapped in carpeting and furniture. Cleaning products and fragrances add chemicals that affect our lungs and nervous systems. Cooking, bathing and doing laundry increases moisture in the air. 

Just the act of breathing adds moisture and carbon dioxide to the air. Elevated carbon dioxide can make you tired and cause headaches, heart palpitations and other problems. 

Four plants sitting in a windowsill overlooking a yard

One of the best and easiest things you can do for indoor air quality is air out your home daily, weather permitting. Turn heaters off, open windows to bring in fresh air, and turn on exhaust fans for 10-15 minutes. This is known as “flushing” the home and is a fast way to reduce carbon dioxide and other pollutants. It’s especially useful if you don’t have a whole-house ventilation system. 

Flushing leads to minimal heat loss, even on a cold day, because your walls and furnishings don’t have time to get cold. You may be pleasantly surprised by a boost in energy when you do this! 

More ways to improve or maintain healthy air in the home 

  • Avoid adding pollutants to your indoor air. Avoid scented products like body sprays, plug-in air fresheners or perfumes. Use fragrance-free products. Avoid using sprays for pest control.  
  • Open windows when you use cleaning products or disinfectants. 
  • Don’t smoke or vape indoors. 
  • Vacuum and damp-dust to reduce dust particles that can carry pollutants, allergens and germs. 
  • Replace or clean filters in your furnace or heat pump every three months. Follow manufacturer instructions for air conditioner and air purifier filters. 
  • If you have allergies, consider airing out your house in the early evening when pollen counts are lower. 

Advice for those with asthma 

People with asthma are not more likely to catch COVID-19, but they may have more severe symptoms if they do get sick.

Here are some tips to keep asthma well-controlled:

  • Talk to your doctor now to discuss what to do if you get sick. Make sure your Asthma Action Plan is up to date
  • Use controller medications daily as prescribed to prevent asthma attacks, even when you’re feeling good. You can read more at the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology website.
  • Make sure you have an extra refill for your asthma inhaler on hand.
  • Ask your doctor for a spacer, which helps you get more medication into your lungs where it can do the most good.
  • Clean inhalers according to manufacturer instructions. Clean spacers weekly with warm soapy water, rinse and air dry.
  • Remain active indoors—safely. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to exercise that don’t put unnecessary stress on your lungs. Physical activity boosts your immune system. 

 Visit us at tpchd.org/coronavirus for our latest guidance and updates.

  1. Updated: 05/06/2020
Photo of Environmental Health Specialist Judy Olsen

by Judy Olsen

Judy helps residents breathe easier through asthma care management and environmental health improvements.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.