As the most common chronic disease, asthma affects more than 35 million people, including 6 million children. Each year, the prevalent disease causes more than 2 million emergency room visits and 500,000 hospitalizations. To help minimize asthma complications, the IICRC announced in a press release its top cleaning tips to help minimize asthma triggers for Asthma Awareness Month this May.
“It is often misunderstood that a primary triggers of asthma is found in dust mite droppings—something that can be significantly reduced through cleaning practices,” said Scott Armour, an environmental health science specialist. “Dust mites survive on skin cells. The skin cells are shed by the people in the house and simply land everywhere – in the carpet, on shelves, everywhere you see dust. It’s really amazing how many times we find lots of skin cells on samples when we test the indoor air quality of homes and offices.
The IICRC recommends the following cleaning tips to reduce asthma triggers:
- Don’t rely on disinfectants: Often, facility managers believe that using a disinfectant will reduce asthma and allergy triggers. However, more intensive methods such as carpet cleanings, dusting and extraction are required to remove dust mites and other contaminants that prompt asthma attacks
- Empty vacuums frequently: To ensure dust mites stay at a minimum, empty vacuum bags before they are full. When bags are roughly 1/3 to 1/2 full, empty them so vacuums can stay fully effective in the removal of dust mites and other debris.
- Dust frequently:Dusting is critical in the removal of dust mites, particularly in facilities that don’t have carpet. Dust all surfaces on a frequent basis using microfiber cloths, as these will be most effective in capturing dust mites and other asthma triggers. Also, consider dust mopping on a daily or weekly basis, based on facility usage and occupancy levels.
- Maintain A/C and heating units:Each month, change air conditioning and heating unit filters to ensure dust mites don’t recirculate into the building. Consider using filter enhancers which can be sprayed on units to help trap more debris and allergens.
- Increase carpet cleaning frequency:If the facility has carpet, ensure all vacuums are equipped with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters are most effective in the removal of the common contaminants that trigger asthma and allergies. In a commercial facility, deep clean carpets at least once a year. In facilities with high levels of foot traffic, consider deep cleanings on a more frequent basis.
- Limit mold growth: In addition to dust mites, mold is another primary trigger that can cause complications for asthma and allergy sufferers. Increase cleaning frequencies of areas that may be prone to mold growth such as restrooms, kitchens and window coverings.
- Focus on overlooked areas:In addition to carpets and flooring, concentrate on other areas of the building that occupants use frequently. For example, in offices, chairs are often overlooked, but these can become a breeding ground for dust mites.
“When facility managers understand the importance of cleaning and its effect on health for the millions of asthma sufferers, they will be better able to maintain the indoor environment,” added Armour. “Good frequent cleaning means fewer allergies and asthma attacks. By following the tips and choosing an IICRC Certified Firm for cleanings, facility managers can rest assured they’re doing all things possible to improve the building for employees and guests.”
For more information, visit www.iicrc.org.