Air Quality For Homebound Patients Is An Important Element To Monitor
At Pegasus Home Health Care, we advocate diversity, equity, and inclusivity in our clients and our professionals. Our licensed nurses come from all walks of life. We respect and value the uniqueness of each individual.
Pegasus in-home nurses in Palmdale and elsewhere help clients live safely in their homes. Some of their patients are homebound due to their medical conditions. Career home health care nurses know it’s important to monitor the air quality for patients who must stay indoors.
Indoor And Outdoor Air Can Be Polluted
Smog comes to mind when most Californians think of poor air quality. But it’s more than that. Air pollution results when “any chemical, physical, or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.”
Obvious culprits include ozone, smoke from fires, and vehicle emissions. However, household chemicals, pesticides, and gasses can also contaminate the air. Sometimes indoor air is as severely polluted as outdoor air.
Statistically, “nine out of ten people now breathe polluted air.” Even your homebound patients are exposed to less-than-clean air. That has potentially adverse effects on their health.
Polluted air harms health in numerous ways. It’s a factor in cardiovascular diseases, respiratory issues, circulatory problems, and asthma. Poor-quality air is also linked to bronchitis and “eye, nose, and throat irritation.”
Although your in-home care may include young individuals, most patients are probably older adults. Age itself doesn’t make a person more susceptible to the effects of poor-quality air. However, older patients often have chronic medical conditions that decrease their ability to resist the effects of toxic air.
Sources Of Indoor Air Pollution
A multitude of products causes indoor air pollution. Some are controllable, such as tobacco smoke. Others are not.
Sources of contamination include any products that potentially release gasses, liquids, or solid particles into the air. Lack of ventilation compounds the problem.
Pollution sources that your patient or their family may need to have evaluated by experts include:
- Asbestos insulation
- Deteriorated structural materials
- Furnishings, including cabinets, made from pressed wood
- Heating and cooling systems
- Malfunctioning gas appliances
- Water leaks, which can be a source of mold or fungal growth
If the outdoor air isn’t polluted, and the weather allows, opening windows and doors can temporarily improve indoor air quality. But the underlying source of contamination must be eliminated to the extent possible.
Products that are in frequent use can adversely affect indoor air quality. These include, but are not limited to:
- Cleaning products
- Hobby products such as glue
- Personal care items
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Advise your patient and family members to use all products according to instructions and in well-ventilated areas.
You may notice other sources of pollutants when you evaluate the patient’s home for safety. For example, if humidifiers or dehumidifiers are used, check the inside for mold. Make sure that your patient or their family members understand the cleaning instructions.
Another source of potentially harmful substances is gas cook stoves, which can emit gasses, including carbon monoxide. If the flame is orange, yellow, or sooty, the burners need to be cleaned and possibly serviced. Advise your patient to have a properly sized exhaust fan installed and use it whenever the stove is in use.
The Air Quality Index Is A Measure Of Pollution
The Air Quality Index (AQI) describes the level of outdoor air pollution. Air quality varies from good to hazardous. Levels are color-coded to make it easier to know if it’s safe to breathe outdoor air.
The AQI is included in nearly every weather report. Because it varies throughout the day, individuals can receive real-time notices of changes. For example, AirNow offers free cell phone apps and other notification services.
Although your homebound patient may not go outside, knowing the AQI is still important. Family members and friends often unwittingly bring in unsafe air when they open a door. The AQI also determines when a patient can open windows to let air in.
There are always harmful pollutants in homes. These are usually in such small quantities that they don’t pose a risk to healthy individuals. But they can be deleterious for your vulnerable patients.
How To Improve Indoor Air Quality
Recommend that your patient install a carbon monoxide monitor and, if warranted, an indoor air quality monitor. Indoor air quality monitors continuously test the air for a variety of contaminants. The EPA has a comprehensive guide.
The kind of pollutant that is potentially present determines how to improve air quality. Then the appropriate steps can be taken to reduce it. Some remedies may be as simple as changing air filters more frequently in central heating and cooling systems.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers may improve indoor air quality. Air filters can remove particulates, smells, VOCs, and some bacteria and viruses. This buyer’s guide includes ratings, specifications, and prices.
Join Us In Providing Quality Care
Pegasus in-home nurses in Palmdale and our other locations enjoy flexible work hours. They also build rapport with their patients because they visit them regularly. That increases a career home health care nurse’s awareness of each patient’s needs, such as monitoring indoor air quality.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Nurses who join our healthcare team receive the training and support they need to advance their careers. We are an equal opportunity employer, and we’re hiring licensed professionals.