>>Valley Patriot>>

Asthma Prevention At Home
Caroline Ganley, Exra Glenn, & Evelin Vierra, City of Lawrence

Did you know that Massachusetts has the third highest rate of asthma cases in the U.S.?  Here in the commonwealth, one out of every ten people has asthma.  No wonder we hear so much about it.  According to the Massachusetts Asthma Planning Collaborative, asthma is the most common chronic illness among children and one of the major reasons for missed school days in the United States. 

Luckily, with proper medical attention and education programs, asthma can be successfully managed.  As of yet, there is no known cure. Therefore, public health officials continue to focus on treatment and the prevention of recurring attacks.

Asthma is a disease of the airways.  Once you have the disease, certain things can trigger an asthma “attack.”   What causes this disease in the first place? This has long been a mystery to scientists.  But much is known about what can trigger or “cause” an asthma attack.  This means that health officials must focus on prevention.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has been reaching out to cities and towns, spreading the word on prevention.  In particular, DPH is focusing on environmental triggers – things that can cause an asthma attack.  These may be found in your home or yard.    Exposure to dust mites, cockroaches, cats, tobacco smoke, dogs, mold, nitrogen dioxide and viruses are all known to make asthma worse … in other words, to trigger attacks.

Here are some helpful tips for improving your home environment.

Don’t Smoke Indoors.  It may sound obvious, but don’t smoke indoors – especially in front of children. A number of recent surveys found that young children with asthma are still being exposed to second hand smoke. If anyone in your household has asthma, do not smoke indoors or in the car.

Get Rid of Dust Traps.   Dust mites are tiny bugs invisible to the naked eye. 

They live in rugs, on furniture, in mattresses and pillows.  Remove wall-to-wall carpeting to expose a wood or tile floor. Vacuum and clean the floors regularly.  If you must have a rug, choose an area rug and vacuum and clean it often.  Regularly vacuum furniture using the upholstery brush. Be sure to clean curtains and wipe down woodwork and walls at least twice each year. Your goal is a dust-free home.  Finally, use dust-mite prevention covers for your mattresses and pillows – these are now widely available.

Use Perfume-Free Cleaning Products.  Many people with asthma are sensitive to perfumes … especially in cleaning products.  Be sure to use laundry detergents, bath soaps, shampoos and all other cleaning products without perfumes.  These are readily available in grocery stores.

Use HEPA Filters in Your Vacuum.  Most vacuum cleaners are now designed to use a HEPA filter which prevents dust from escaping the vacuum.  Be sure your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter.

Exterminate Properly.  Be sure to keep a clean home with carefully stored food and lid-tight containers for garbage storage, etc.  If you have a roach problem, hire a licensed exterminator.  If you rent in Lawrence, your landlord is responsible for extermination and must use a state-licensed exterminator.  Roaches and other vermin pose serious public health threats and must be gotten rid of.

Get Rid of Mold.  Be sure your walls, floors, ceilings and cellar are dry.   Proper building maintenance is a must. If a roof or wall leak occurs, use heating equipment and fans to dry it out right away.  This will prevent mold from setting in. 

In New England, it is normal to have a pleasantly musty smell in a cellar or basement.  However, your house or apartment should not smell moldy or musty. (If your cellar is unusually damp or wet, use a de-humidifier and be sure to clean and empty the water tray often.)

In Lawrence, the Board of Health is forming a prevention team with other city departments and health providers. We will be working to remind everyone that improving your housing conditions can also help reduce asthma in our community. 


 *Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The November, 2006 Edition of the Valley Patriot
The Valley Patriot is a Monthly Publication.
All Contents (C) 2006
, Valley Patriot, Inc.
We publish 9,000 newspapers and distribute in Andover, North Andover,
Methuen, Haverhill, Chelmsford, Georgetown, Groveland, Boxford,
Lawrence, Dracut, Tewksbury, Hampton & Salisbury Beach, and Lowell.

Valley Patriot Archive

Prior Heroes

Prior Columns
by Debbie Quinn

Prior Editorials

Prior columns
by TomDuggan

Prior Lead Stories

Councilor Opposes
Home for Disabled Child