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Creating a healthy home

Asthma is one of the most widespread and little understood diseases in Australia – its cause is not known and there is no cure. However, it can be treated and its effects mitigated by designing and maintaining homes which keep allergens to a minimum.

Allergens are substances that are in the air and produce an allergic reaction to asthma-prone individuals. In the home, allergens can come from a range of sources – from skin or hair shed by the family pet to the type of soap used in the bathroom. But the most significant source is usually dust and the mites that breed there.
Allergens are harboured in carpets or other fabrics, so if asthma is a problem for you or your family, consider the following options to minimise the problem.

  • Use smooth, hard floor finishes such as timber or cork. Dust mites cannot breed there and they are generally easier to keep clear of dust.
  • If you do have carpets, choose short pile synthetic fibre with a rubber underlay and have them regularly steam cleaned. Follow this up with a vacuum cleaner that has a filtration system that does not spread allergens through the air.
  • Electricity is considered the best form of heating for asthma sufferers, largely because it has no naked flame requiring oxygen so does not set up draughts that can stir allergens into the air.
  • Condensation is inevitable in most homes and occurs wherever there are significant variations in temperature. It is generally not harmful unless it continues for long periods, promoting the growth of mould, mites and bacteria.
  • Simple measures may help, such as keeping the lids on pans while cooking, drying clothes out on the line rather than inside the home, and making sure steam from the bathroom does not drift into the rest of the home.

Additional precautions can be taken with the installation of extractor fans in high moisture areas such as bathrooms, the kitchen and laundry and the placement of north facing windows for light and ventilation.

Contact an HIA member for more advice on how to make your home healthier.

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