Protecting Allergies and Asthma from Home Improvement Projects

July 1st, 2010


Conducting a home improvement project in the confines of a house with an allergy or asthma sufferer requires constructive pre-planning to keep potential asthma attacks and allergic reactions to a minimum. There is rarely a home-improvement or remodeling project that doesn’t involve the dust and debris that can aggravate breathing difficulties. Steps can be taken to minimize the affects of construction, and remodeling plans can be altered to make life more comfortable for the breathing-impaired without sacrificing comfort for healthier family members.


When you are discussing your home improvement specifications with the construction crew, specify that there needs to be adaptations for asthma or allergies. An electrostatic furnace filter should be replaced with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. This will prevent dust circulation. Temporary plastic walls that are manufactured to zip closed will securely seal off the room that is being remodeled. Make sure that exhaust fans are used for “negative pressurizing” - and work to move contaminated construction air from the construction zone to the outside. These steps will likely add to the cost of your home improvement project, but they are necessary if anyone with breathing problems is inside the home.

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Even after the construction crew has finished, steps need to be taken to keep the air clean and free from lingering harmful particles. Make sure the house is cleaned with HEPA filter vacuums, and use only cleaning products that are free from “volatile organic compounds” (VOC) – toxic air pollutants.


There are other choices that can be made during the planning of a home improvement project to accommodate allergy and asthma sufferers. Instead of knocking a whole wall, consider a partial knock-down – and try to avoid moving walls. This can save money that can be reallocated to the cost of protecting the breathing-impaired during the construction phase. Choosing solid wood instead of particleboard for kitchen cupboards keeps the toxic formaldehyde of particleboard far away from the sufferer’s breathing passageways. To compensate for extra cost, consider not moving a sink – which entails added plumbing expenses.


Carpets can be an invisible nightmare for serious allergy and asthma sufferers. Consider making plans to eliminate carpets. A combination of Sheetrock with cork liner under a floor will even improve upon the sound proofing capabilities of a carpet. If you’re remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, keep in mind that fans that exhaust air to the outside are healthier choices than fans that recirculate air. Keeping moisture to a minimum by upgrading windows and installing water-impervious flooring is a long-term healthy investment that will improve your budget and the value of your home as well as the health of your home.


Even if you or your household members don’t suffer from allergies or breathing difficulties, a healthy home and a protective home-improvement construction process will benefit the health of everyone – and your healthy home will be a breath of fresh air for everyone that lasts long after your home improvement project is completed.