The Air You Breathe and It’s Impact on Asthma

femme asthmatique

By Julian A. Cox

These 3 Gases

It is a good chance that the air you breathe in your home is full of high concentrations of harmful gases. Gases that are wreaking havoc on your respiratory system and preparing you to be the next asthma statistic. Or they are further aggravating the asthmatic condition of you or your loved ones. According to Science Daily, the United Nations Development Program in 1998 estimated that more than 2 million people die each year because of the presence of toxic indoor air and other studies estimate that 14 times as many deaths occur globally from poor indoor air quality. This was based on a comparison of indoor vs outdoor air pollution.

These three gases have been found to be at very high levels indoors and have a direct impact on your respiratory health:

• Formaldehyde

• Toluene

• Xylene

Q: How do these gases make their way into your home?

A: They do so through their uses in building materials, cleaning products, carpeting, cosmetics, paints, synthetic fragrances, cigarette smoke, waxed paper, and pressed wood products.

The Breath You Take

Another gas to be aware of is CO2. Every expired breath from your mouth or nose releases an unhealthy amount of it into your air. If you were in a small room sealed up tight for several hours you could die from your own breath. The reason is it is lacking a large percentage of the oxygen it contained upon inspiration. Pure, fresh air that rejuvenates and vitalizes you is composed of 21 percent oxygen. Even the slightest degradation of such equals unhealthy and impure air.

Did you know that a high concentration of CO2 in your air can do such things as:

• Induce drowsiness

• Inhibit concentration

• Impair cognitive function

• Contribute to headaches

The longer you are present in it the less you will notice the degradation of your air quality. Initially, if you were to step in from outside to indoors you would notice an obvious difference in the growing odor lingering in the air but the longer you are exposed it will dull your sense of smell. This occurs when CO2 concentration levels rise between 12 parts per 10,000 and higher. At this level of concentration your air is considered to be very bad.

Q: What is the best method to eliminate gaseous chemicals from indoor air?

A: Ventilation, activated carbon in the form of granules in sachets, use of activated carbon filters, and plants that remove gases from your environment.

The Ultimate Solution

Windows hold the power to unleash a flood of fresh, rejuvenating, and vitalizing oxygen into your household or barricade you up in your own personal gas chamber. Ventilation is the easiest, healthiest and most powerful method of purifying your air as well as significantly reducing those concentrated levels of harmful gases. It doesn’t get any easier than this. It is due to the lack of this that so many fatalities have occurred from poor indoor air quality. Without exchanging degraded, poisonous, foul air with fresh air full of its 21 percent value of oxygen, you cannot purify your air.

However, in order to achieve the full benefit of the wind in your home you must make sure to create cross ventilation or else you are just mixing fresh air with impure air. Without cross ventilation it does not take very long for degraded air to become more concentrated than the fresh air coming in. Cross ventilation is an application of windward and leeward. First you get a grasp on which side of the house the wind is blowing (windward) and open the windows and next you do the same on the side of the house it is not blowing (leeward) and open the windows. Put the two together and you achieve cross ventilation. Did you know that it is necessary for each adult present in a room or building to receive 3,500 cubic feet of fresh air on an hourly basis or at least 1 cubic foot of fresh air per second? That is exactly what it takes to reduce the high concentration of CO2 in your air down to 2 parts per 10,000, which is considered a safe level.

Q: What if I live in an area where the outdoor air is heavily polluted?

A: Depending on the type of pollution and how high it is – such as from nearby factories – it’s helpful to open the windows and ventilate for short durations off and on. It’s also highly advisable to have an abundance of plants inside, perhaps with a dehumidifier to keep extra moisture in check if the windows are always or often kept shut.

Hopefully the picture is much clearer as to the role that these gases play on asthma. If you have enjoyed this article and desire a more in-depth look at how to help remedy your asthma, allergies as well as indoor air quality issues, check out my new book Air Purifiers Exposed. It is available in both e-book as well as print. The e-book contains color photos. Check it out here.



Collier Engineer Co. (1899) A Treatise On Architecture And Building Construction Vol4: Plumbing And Gas-Fitting, Heating And Ventilation, Painting And Decorating, Estimating And Calculating Quantities New York: Press of Eaton & Maines

Ministry of Education (2007) Designing Quality Learning Spaces: Ventilation & Indoor Quality Air

Science Daily (September 9, w009) Houseplants Cut Indoor Ozone