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Learning How to Control Your Environment


More than 20 million American children and adults have asthma, the #1 chronic disease among children in the U.S. and a leading disease among adults. People with asthma should talk to their physician about developing a comprehensive asthma action plan that includes information on treatment, emergency care, and prevention tips, such as how to reduce exposure to common asthma triggers.


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Reducing the sources of triggers, and exposure to triggers is called "environmental control," and is a cornerstone of modern asthma management. 

Common Indoor Asthma Triggers

Floors, walls, window sills, toys, pets, bedding, carpets, curtains, furniture, basements, attics, air ducts and garages can all be sources of asthma triggers.

Allergens - In many people with asthma, their asthma symptoms can be caused by exposure to certain triggers called “allergens.” Household allergens can be found in mattresses, pillows, rugs, furniture, plush toys, bathrooms, basements, attics, air ducts, and more. Some common allergens in the home include:

o   Dust mites
o   Mold
o   Pet or animal dander
o   Cockroaches
o   Pollen

Irritants - Asthma symptoms can also be caused by exposure to some triggers called “irritants,” a variety of particles that can pollute indoor air and disturb or irritate the airways in the lungs. Many household irritants can be found in certain types of paints, varnishes, waxes, solvents, cleaning products, pesticides, cosmetics, fuels, and more. Some common irritants that can be found in the home include:

o   Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)*
o   Tobacco smoke
o   Fireplace smoke
o   Strong fumes and odors
o   Wood dust

*VOCs are gases from certain solids or liquids that can be found all around the house, many of which can trigger asthma symptoms if their levels are too high. Since the level of many VOCs can be higher indoors than outdoors – up to ten times higher – people with asthma should talk to their doctor to get more information on how to avoid VOCs.

VOCs include a variety of chemicals. Common types of VOCs and a few select examples of where they may be found are:

o   Aldehyde (cleaning products, manufactured wood, plastics, resins)
o   Benzene (lubricants, detergents, polymers, adhesives, plastics)
o   Chlorobenzenes (pesticides, herbicides, rubber)
o   Polychlorinated biphenyl (paints, sealants, cement, flame retardants)
o   Toluene (paint thinners, inks, lacquers, disinfectants)
o   Trichloroethane (metal cleaners, aerosol propellants, paint solvents)
o   Xylene (fuels, varnishes, pesticides, paint thinners)




HHI Error Correction Policy

HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

Learning How to Control Your Environment:  Created on July 28th, 2011.  Last Modified on April 7th, 2014


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About AAFA


The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is a leading national nonprofit organization fighting asthma and allergic diseases. AAFA provides free information, conducts educational programs, fights for patients’ rights, and funds research to find better treatments and cures. Visit



Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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