Allergies and asthma
Reducing the cause of allergies and asthma through the design of your home
When building the home it is worthwhile to consider:
Wall and ceiling insulation
- Foil or polyester products help to avoid airborne particles that may cause allergies.
- Air vents designed to allow one air change per hour through the room. They are designed to stop particles from entering into the house.
- Bedrooms should have one ventilator per 10 square metres of room space.
- Large windows maximise light and ventilation and should be orientated North to maximise solar gain.
- Ideally use external blinds or shutters, vertical or roller blinds.
- Polished floorboards, ceramic tiles, cork, vinyl or slate are recommended as they are easily cleaned and do not harbour dust mites.
- Rugs can be used as long as they are beaten and aired to remove dust mites and allergens.
- Keep ledges and exposed tops of units to a minimum. Build pelmets up to the ceiling so they don’t have any horizontal surfaces to collect dust.
- Closed cupboards are a preferred to open shelves.
- Choose architraves, skirting boards and mouldings that are as flush as possible to the wall.
- Extractor fans help to remove moisture and fumes from different areas such as the kitchen, laundry and bathrooms.
- Heating is ideally slab, ceiling or any other radiant heating as they do not distribute heat using a fan. Fans may allow dust to build up in the appliance.
There are a number of ways to reduce the cause of allergies an asthma in your homes external environment including:
Trees and Plants
- Choose trees and plants that produce minimal amounts of pollen and without strong fragrance.
- Selects plants that are bee-pollinated rather than wind pollinated to reduce the amount of pollen in the air.
- Alternative ground covers to the typical rye grass, such as fragrant herbs, are ideal. Rye grass is a potent allergen.
- Drip systems are recommended over spray systems that can cause pollen grains to swell to a size where they can enter the airways.
Allergy & asthma triggers
Allergies and asthma can be triggered by any number of factors depending on the individual. Research has identified that potential triggers can include:
- Dust mites
- Temperature variation
- Relative humidity
- Fume or other gases
- Airborne particles
- Air movement
- Inhaled irritants
The main rooms in the house that trigger allergies are the bedrooms, followed by the living areas, where there are ample amounts of food (dead skin cells) for dust mites. Furnishings should be selected to reduce dust collection, where dust mites live and produce droppings, which become airborne and cause allergies.
- Leather or vinyl covers are preferred as they are easily cleaned and impervious to dust mites.
- Cane and rattan furniture are also suitable as they provide a non-conducive environment for mite growth.
- Removable cushions that can be easily cleaned are also a great option.
- The warmth and moisture of mattresses and bedding are ideal for the habitation of dust mites.
- Polyester bedding is recommended as it is non-allergic, is synthetic so does not encourage dust mite growth, does not break down into particles and is easily hot washed.
- Dust mites can be removed from bedding by regular washing at temperatures above 55°C and should be treated every 5-6 weeks. Airing bedding can also reduce humidity and kill the dust mites by drying them out. Tumble-drying linen at temperatures above 55°C is also effective at dehydrating mites after being washing in temperatures below 55°C.
Encasing the mattress and pillows in protectors
- This will prevent the mites from getting in or out.
- Electric blankets can protect mattresses by reducing the humidity in mattresses.