Asthma is a lung disease. It causes people to wheeze, cough, be short of breath, and sometimes even die. People with asthma can suffer from frequent periods of difficulty breathing called “asthma attacks.” During an attack, the airways swell, the muscles around them tighten, and the airways produce thick yellow mucous.An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from asthma (1 in 15 Americans), and 62% of asthma cases are “allergic-asthma.” The prevalence of asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups.
- Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children.
- Asthma is more common among adult women than adult men.
- Asthma is more common among male children than female children.
- Asthma is more common among children (7 to 10%) than adults (3 to 5%).
- Nearly 5 million asthma sufferers are under age 18. It is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting more than one child in 20.
- Asthma is slightly more prevalent among African Americans than Caucasians.
Asthma is not contagious, but it does run in families, so if parents have asthma, their children are more likely to have it, too. Children, particularly those living in urban areas and crowded or unclean conditions, are especially at risk for developing asthma. African-American children living in low-income families tend to have more severe asthma and are at greater risk of death.
What causes an attack?
Each person is different, but many things (called “asthma triggers”) can cause asthma attacks. These can be found both outdoors and indoors and include:
What can you do?
- Cold weather
- Dust and dust mites
- Pet dander (skin flakes)
- Tobacco smoke
- Air fresheners
Because there is no cure for asthma, it is most important to work on preventing attacks. There are three major categories of prevention:
Keep a clean home
Keep people with asthma away from dust, dust mites, and smoke
- Make sure that your home is free of dust, mold, smoke, and other potential triggers.
- Vacuum often-HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Air) filters remove dust best.
- Keep foods stored in tightly sealed containers to avoid attracting cockroaches and rodents by keeping food in tightly sealed containers.
- Clear crumbs, drips, spills, and dirty dishes immediately.
- Identify and quickly fix water leaks in your home.
- Use zippered “allergen resistant” mattress and pillow covers to keep dust mites out of sleeping spaces.
Radon is a radioactive gas that cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. Radon gas is a natural substance that can be found in the dirt and rocks beneath houses, in well water and
in some building materials. It can enter homes through soil, crawlspaces, foundation cracks, floors and
walls. Once inside, it can sometimes become trapped in your
home. All homes have some radon gas. Breathing high levels of radon can put you at risk for lung cancer. To see if your house has dangerous levels of radon, you should test it.
Radon is measured in picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/L). Radon levels inside houses below 4 pCi/L are considered acceptable. If your home has radon levels above 4 pCi/L, you should take action.
What can you do?
Test your home:
* Use a 2-day test kit or 90-day test kit (90-day test kits take longer but the results are more accurate).
* Follow test kit instructions closely.
* You may also hire a professional to test for radon for you (Contact your state’s radon office for a list of qualified
·* Fix your home if you have unacceptable levels of radon: Hire a professional contractor.
* Contact your state’s radon office for guidance and assistance if you are thinking about fixing your radon problem yourself.
* Re-test your home after repairs to make sure the problem was fixed.
Follow these additional tips:
o Do not smoke in your house. Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer from radon.
o Keep your home ventilated by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate air. (This will only temporarily reduce radon levels.)
o Seal cracks in floors and wall with plaster, caulk or other crack sealants.
o You can cover the earth floor in crawl spaces with a high-density plastic sheet. A vent pipe and fan can be used to blow the radon from under the sheet and vent it to the outdoors
Whom can you contact?
· Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse (to find a state radon contact) click here.
· National Radon Hotline (to order a radon test kit) 1-800-767-7236
· National Safety Council/EPA Radon Hotline (for questions about radon) 1-800-557-2366
· Radon Fix-It Hotline 1-800-644-6999
· Spanish Language Radon Hotline 1-800-725-8312