Air Pollution and Humidity Are Potent Triggers of Asthma, But Sufferers Credit Symptoms to More Visible Factors
Breezometer, the company that delivers street-level air quality data and informed lifestyle recommendations to consumers in 100+ countries, today shares the results of its 2022 Asthma Awareness Report. The new study reveals the top three cities in the U.S. with the most difficult air quality conditions for asthma, as well as other outdoor and indoor air quality triggers of asthma. BreezoMeter consulted its historical air quality index, as well as direct insights from consumers around their triggers and how they cope with them in partnership with global technology company Airthings, creators of indoor air quality and radon monitors for homeowners, businesses and professionals.
Asthma Hotspots in the U.S. Show High Levels of PM2.5 and Humidity
Toxic PM2.5 particles-invisible to the naked eye and small enough to get deep into the lungs-are triggering for asthma sufferers as they cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the airways, similar to the inflammation caused by smoking. PM2.5 particles primarily come from transportation exhaust (e.g., pollution from trucks, buses and trains); the burning of fuels (e.g., wood burning, heating oil and coal) and natural sources (e.g., wildfires). As for humidity, increased moisture in the air can directly irritate the airways. Common allergens that aggravate allergic asthma, like dust mites and mold, also thrive in humid air.
A High Majority of Asthma Sufferers Alter Their Daily Routines to Avoid Environmental Triggers
The likelihood of staying indoors to avoid asthma triggers increases with the age of asthma sufferers. Fifty-five percent (55%) of 18-24 year olds choose to stay indoors as part of adjusting their day for their asthma, followed by 63% of 25-34 year olds, 65% of 35-44 year olds, 79% of 45-54 year olds and 84% of 55-64 year olds.
While 91% of people report having to adjust their daily routine to contain asthma symptoms, only 67% of asthma sufferers actually track their asthma symptoms, which can help sufferers manage their condition in a more proactive manner.
"Asthma sufferers don't necessarily need to avoid the outdoors completely, as air quality can change drastically within meters or miles of where they're located. Just because they see high pollen levels, for instance, within their direct location, doesn't mean that the conditions are the same even a mile away," said Ran Korber, CEO and Co-founder, BreezoMeter. "When asthma sufferers understand how the quality of the air they breathe can differ so drastically between one place and another, they can better predict environmental triggers and eliminate the need to put their lives on hold for days or months at a time."
Asthma Sufferers Overlook Indoor Air Quality; Most Say Their Asthma Symptoms Are Triggered More by Outdoor Air
Airthings found that 72% of asthma sufferers named indoor dust as the top indoor environmental factor to trigger asthma, followed by 54% of asthma sufferers naming pollen. Pet dander (39%), strong odors/scents (34%) and cooking or fire smoke (29%) were also named as indoor air factors likely to trigger asthma attacks.
Scientists today speak of the indoor-outdoor air pollution continuum to underline the fact that air quality shouldn't be thought about solely indoors or outdoors, but rather seen as two parts of a greater whole-people's daily air quality exposure.
"Asthma impacts millions of people around the world, but BreezoMeter's research shows that most don't know where to start when it comes to identifying and minimizing the triggers that cause it," said Oyvind Birkenes, CEO, Airthings. "The reality is that indoor air quality can often be just as bad, or worse, than outdoor air, and contains higher levels of common asthma triggers like dust and pet dander. Nobody wants conditions like asthma to prevent them from enjoying their lives, and that's why we believe the most powerful and effective tool is awareness. By monitoring indoor air quality, anyone can gain insight into the unique conditions inside their home and take the necessary steps to foster a healthier, more comfortable indoor environment - and ultimately, minimize their asthma symptoms."
The full 2022 Asthma Awareness Report and methodology can be found here.