Life with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) means you have to take good care of yourself, and optimizing your indoor air quality to avoid flare-ups is one way to do this. Although it may be hard to believe, indoor air is often more polluted than the air outside. Particulate matter (a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets, according to the Environmental Protection Agency) and fumes can irritate your lungs. To improve your life with COPD, follow these indoor air quality tips:
- Change air filter regularly: Most furnace and air conditioner manufacturers recommend checking the air filter once a month. After you pull out the filter, hold it against the sunlight. Replace the filter if it looks dirty. If you want to avoid breathing in any of the dirt, ask a family member to do the job.
- Upgrade air filters: Every air filter has an efficiency rating that indicates the type and quantity of particles that can be trapped. Basic air filters trap larger particles like dust, but a more efficient filter can trap smaller particles like pollen, mold spores and even some bacteria. Look for a filter with a minimum efficiency reporting value of 13 to 16.
- Install an air cleaner: For even better air filtration, consider installing a whole-house air cleaner with a HEPA filter. Bryon Thomashow, chairman of the COPD Foundation, recommends HEPA filtration. This type of filtration is used by hospitals to create the cleanest environment possible. You can use a portable room air cleaner, but a whole-house system goes right into your ductwork to clean the air in your entire home.
- Clean your ductwork: Dirt and dust trapped in your ductwork can end up in your living space. Hire a reputable duct cleaner who has the tools to remove contaminants without letting them get into your home. Then make sure all your ducts are properly sealed.
For more information about enjoying an active life with COPD, visit the Do More With Oxygen website. You'll find a wealth of helpful insights and advice.