Breathe Clean Air Air, Breathing


Some Topics



Airborne Allergy and Air Quality

Airborne allergens and chemicals cause respiratory disease - inflammation in the nose and in the lung. Lung inflammation is often expressed as asthma. Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, plays a significant role in the exacerbation of airway disease in asthmatics and may contribute to the overall increase in asthma morbidity.

Hospitalization for asthma has increased by 50% over the past 20 years, and deaths from asthma in the United States have increased to more than 5,000 per year. It is suggested that mortality is particularly high in lower socioeconomic groups who are exposed to higher levels of air pollution and have poorer access to early and effective medical care. Air-borne particulates may be major factor in the increasing morbidity from asthma.

In the past, medical textbooks divided asthma into inside and outside forms.

  • Extrinsic (outside) asthma tended to occur in sudden attacks triggered by exposure to airborne materials.
  • Intrinsic (inside) asthma seemed to occur continuously or in prolonged episodes for no apparent reason.

Here are the three most basic ideas about asthma causes and treatment:

  1. Asthma is allergy until proven otherwise.
  2. Allergy comes from airborne and food sources.
  3. Solve asthma by improving air quality and diet revision.

Air Sources

  • The spring or summer wheezing attacks of pollen sensitive patients is a form of extrinsic asthma, usually obvious to patients and allergists alike.
  • Indoor allergens often play a role in maintaining year-round asthma and may present as "intrinsic" asthma.
  • Allergy to house dust mites is a leading cause of winter asthma.
  • Cigarette smoke is always a major problem for asthmatics - the rule is NO SMOKING
  • Outdoor Air pollution is a growing concern.
  • Chemical exposure at work and home causes asthma and should be avoided
  • Pets are a source of dander, mites and dust and exposure may have to be limited.
  • Books, papers, clothing and stuffed toys add airborne allergens and chemicals to any room and should be removed especially from bedrooms.
  • Hot water and simple detergent are the best cleaning agents and should be used often ( avoid strong smelling cleansers)


Many species of molds that develop on organic materials such as fruits, grain, compost and wood can produce allergens and/or toxins that can produce respiratory disease. The main route of entry is through respiration of dust particles contaminated with the fungi or its spores. The main hazardous species belong to the families: Aspergillus, Penicillum, Cladosporium, Mucor, Stachybotrys, Absidia, Alternaria, Fusarium and Cryptostroma. The greatest risks are caused by the Aspergillus and Penicillum strains. Various strains of these families of molds have been implicated in being causative agents in asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and pulmonary mycosis. See Fungi and Disease

Dust Mites

The droppings of dust mites are important allergens which can cause asthma in sensitized people. Dust mites live in bedding, carpets, stuffed furniture, old clothing and stuffed toys. They feed on human skin shedding. Dust mites are most common in humid climates and don't survive when the humidity is below 50%. If droppings of dust mites are inhaled or come in contact with the skin, they may cause asthma and/or eczema symptoms.

Air pollution

Air pollution has been shown to induce attacks of asthma in exposure studies of human volunteers. Ozone is an atmospheric pollutant that enhances the effect of inhaled allergens in asthmatics, suggesting that pollutants influence lung function by increasing airway inflammation. Over 50% of the United States population lives in areas which exceed air quality standards for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and particulates (as monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - EPA).  Steroid bronchodilator inhalers are used to reduce chronic asthma attacks but do not protect against air pollution triggers. Avoiding inhaling polluted air remains the only effective protection.  For industrial exposures special chemical filtering respirators can be worn.

Food allergy is another cause of asthma.

  • Discussions of Environmental Science and Human Ecology were developed by Environmed Research Inc. Sechelt, B.C. Canada. Online Topics were developed from the book, Air and Breathing. This book helps you understand air quality issues, normal breathing and the causes of breathing disorders. You will find detailed information about the atmosphere, air pollution, climate change, airborne infection, air quality and airborne hazards at home. Air and Breathing is available as a Printed book or as an eBook Edition for Download

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    The Author Stephen J. Gislason MD.

    Not all respiratory diseases are caused by airborne pathogens. If asthma, bronchitis and/or nose sinus congestion is chronic or attacks occur frequently in all seasons and are not related to airborne exposure, then consider delayed pattern food allergy as the cause and do diet revision using the Alpha Nutrition Program.

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