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Indoor environment

Along with the correct medicines, avoiding your asthma triggers can help you to control your asthma. There are a number of things in your home that might trigger your asthma, and if you know what these are you can take steps to avoid them so that you reduce the risk of having asthma symptoms and asthma attacks.

Indoor triggers

  • Smoking
  • House-dust mites
  • Animals
  • Moulds and fungi


  • Strong scents such as perfume and aftershave can be a trigger for asthma symptoms. If perfumes are a trigger for your asthma you could ask your close friends, family or colleagues to avoid wearing them when they are with you. Perfumed air fresheners and scented products should also be avoided where possible.

Carpets and furniture

  • Furniture, flooring and shelving made from chipboard or MDF may trigger asthma symptoms in some people. This is because it contains formaldehyde resin, which gives off a pungent, colourless gas that can irritate the airways.
  • Carpets can also be a source of formaldehyde gas. If you are buying a new carpet ask the shop if they could unroll and air it before you bring it home.
  • People who are allergic to latex should avoid carpet with a foam underlay.
  • Some people report that their asthma is triggered by the smell of new sofas and soft furnishings. Try airing new furniture before bringing it into the house and keep the windows open for a few days.
  • Those allergic to pets may continue to have symptoms for many months after an animal or bird last lived in the house. This is because pet allergens can linger for a long time on furniture and in carpets and are very difficult to remove without resorting to a rigorous cleaning measure, such as steam cleaning. When moving house it is wise to check whether the previous homeowners had pets.

Heating and cooking

  • Any type of heating that emits gases, fumes or particles may be a problem for people with asthma.  
  • Dampness in housing has been linked with asthma in some people.
  • We do know that some people find that their asthma gets worse when the heating is turned on in the autumn and better when it goes off in the spring.  However, there are many other asthma triggers in the home, which may alter at this time of year.

Cleaning, decorating, building work and repairs

  • Many households and DIY products such as cleaning fluids, varnishes, glues and paints can trigger your asthma. This is because they have a chemicals in them called volatile organise compounds (VOCs).
  • Cleaning products
  • you may find VOCs in furniture polish, air fresheners, carpet cleaners. To avoid triggering your Asthma 
  • use solid or liquid alternatives rather than sprays where possible
  • use as little of the product as possible and open window
  • Decorating -there has been little medical research in the many chemicals used in decorating a home. What we do know is:
  • Wet paint can cause problems as it gives off chemicals that can trigger asthma symptoms in some people. 
  • Stripping wallpaper can unsettle dust so wash down the wallpaper before starting as this may help dampen down the dust.
  • Ensure there is plenty of ventilation
  • Some people wear a mask while decorating and even when doing the cleaning. At the moment there is no evidence to suggest wearing a mask will reduce asthma symptoms. 
  • There is not a particular type or brand of paint that can be guaranteed for people with asthma.  New low-odour, water based gloss paints are now available that may be less of a trigger for some people with asthma. These paints are available at most large DIY outlets and manufacturer details can be found by asking the Paintmakers association.

Building works and repairs

  • There is a link between poor housing conditions and asthma. It is important your house is not damp, has good ventilation and good heating to avoid asthma symptoms and asthma attacks.
  • Major repairs on your property can cause a lot of dust and may trigger your asthma
  • Some older insulation materials contain formalin and formaldehyde which is a known to irritate asthma and other respiratory conditions. It is important that the surrounding seal of the insulation is not cracked. Fumes may leak into the house if the insulation seal is cracked.  

If you are thinking about doing any building work within your home it is worth seeing your doctor or nurse to check if a temporary increase in your asthma medicine is needed. Or you might like to consider staying with friends or family while the work is being carried out.