indoor environments

Attack on Asthma

In elementary school I played on a traveling soccer team. Before every game we would pack our bags. We were careful not to forget our uniform, shin guards, socks, and cleats. However, there was another item that was crucial to some of the members of the team: their inhalers. My best friend played on the same team that I did and before we would leave for our games her parents would always remind her to grab her inhaler. I remember having to get her inhaler for her during some of her asthma attacks, and it wasn’t always on the soccer field. Sometimes it was at school or in our homes.

Asthma has proven to be one of the most common serious chronic diseases of childhood. Schools and homes can harbor triggers that can lead to trouble breathing and asthma attacks.

Exposures that can trigger asthma attacks include:
·    Secondhand smoke
·    Dust mites
·    Mold
·    Cockroaches
·    Pet dander
·    Ozone and particle pollution

While most of these are exposures that you can look for indoors, there is also a way to become more aware of the quality of the outdoor air in your area. The Air Quality Index (AQI) , shown during your local weather report, can be a useful tool to provide information on the potential health risks of the air in your area.

Some children with asthma can have difficulty playing outside when there are high levels of pollutants in the air. Even small amounts of outdoor physical activity, such as walking, can trigger an asthma attack when the air quality is poor.

Some measures that can be made to help manage asthma include:

  • Eliminate smoking around children or the areas in which they live, learn, and play.
  • Use integrated pest management (IPM) to help prevent pest problems.
  • Fix leaks and moisture problems indoors.
  • Dust and vacuum regularly in areas that kids will be.
  • Locate animals away from sensitive children and ventilation systems.

About the author: Nicole Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Gardening Within the Walls of Your Home

A couple of years ago I gave my Dad grow lights for Father’s Day. He had mentioned to me that he wanted a garden, but living in a gated community there was not the appropriate amount of space on his property to do so. He started to create an indoor garden comprised of herbs and vegetables. It has been two years now and the small garden that started in the corner of his kitchen has now overtaken the entire kitchen and living room. I love to go over to my Dad’s to eat his homemade cooking made from vegetables and fruits straight from his indoor garden.

As more people are becoming concerned about the use of pesticides on the fruits and vegetables we buy at the grocery store, organic produce has been increasing in selection. However, organic produce is usually more expensive and the energy it takes to ship the produce increases carbon emissions. In-home gardening can be a way to divert away from pesticides while being fiscally and environmentally responsible. Although the grow lights, seeds, dirt, and pots will be relatively pricey at first, the results of your garden will pay off in just a matter of a few years.

Starting an indoor garden can prove to be an excellent solution to those living in the city who do not have the adequate amount of space outside to make a garden. However, if you do have a large yard and enough space for a garden outside, having an indoor garden can be beneficial to those who would like to enjoy fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and herbs year-round. No matter the size of your house you can still enjoy the pleasures of a garden as plants can be placed almost anywhere in a house while adding to the aesthetically pleasing aspect of the newly acquired greenery.

If considering starting your own indoor garden it is important to remember that it takes time to maintain a garden. You must remember to re-pot, water, and rotate your plants appropriately. Is it really taking time out of your day though? If you don’t have an indoor garden you must still go to the store, and pick out the produce that you want. It sounds a lot easier to simply just water the plants and then pick them when they are ready to eat.

What do you grow in your indoor garden?

About the author: Nikki Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.