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Is Your Facility Asthma-Friendly?

With the constant application of cleaning chemicals, businesses need to ensure that they are providing a healthy workplace for their employees as well as providing a healthy place for their customers, particularly those with asthma.  Children and the elderly with pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma are highly susceptible to irritants.  Statistics show that 1 in 10 children and 1 in 12 adults in Florida currently have asthma.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children, and cases in Florida of adults with asthma are on the rise.  During an asthma attack, the person may experience wheezing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing requiring a visit to an emergency room.  Although there is no cure for asthma, it can be controlled and exacerbations can be avoided by eliminating or avoiding asthma triggers, using medication properly, and following medical advice from healthcare providers.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates many different “asthma triggers” that could exacerbate asthma in both children and adults.  Some of those triggers come from chemicals used for cleaning and disinfecting purposes.  These chemicals produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  With improper air flow or ventilation, the vapors from these chemicals can accumulate in indoor spaces and subsequently trigger an asthma attack. Building owners, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, schools, learning facilities, and daycare centers should make certain that their facilities implement a management plan to reduce or eliminate those asthma triggers to ensure they are providing a healthy indoor environment.

Some of the ways building owners can implement a plan to be an asthma-friendly facility are as follows:

  • Ensure the building is free from pests, pest droppings, and heavy dust/debris accumulation
  • Make sure the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are functioning properly and the air filters are installed correctly
  • Repair any water leaks and water damage immediately to prevent mold formation
  • Clean up areas with visible mold growth
  • Limit exposure to VOCs by minimizing product use
  • Only use cleaning and disinfectant products that are EPA approved

During this pandemic, the overuse of cleaning chemicals is not uncommon.  Therefore, building owners need to be vigilant in ensuring they are providing a healthy place for guests, employees, residents, students, and other building occupants who may have asthma.  With the help of a qualified indoor air quality specialist, such as a Certified Industrial Hygienist, building owners are able to provide an asthma-friendly facility.