So You Wanna Move?

Nancy Sanker Health Guide
  • Moving and Remodeling with Asthma

    OK, maybe we’re a little more adventurous than most. After all, at age eighteen my husband and I left the relative safety of home in Ohio for Colorado. We became seasoned do-it-yourselfers while remodeling three homes. and then were transferred to California where we trekked through 60 homes in five days before deciding where to put down roots. Who knew they would be temporary roots? Five years later we were playing the house-hunting marathon game again South of Atlanta and now…we must be crazy because we are packing up. Call it downsizing or call it waking up one morning and realizing we don’t need all this “stuff” – we’re out of here.
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    It’s time for you to benefit from our varied experiences and learn how to navigate when asthma is part of the family. Whether you are rolling out the map and considering where to move, plunging into the new/previously-owned housing market or strapping on goggles for remodeling, there are tips that can make your adventure a healthy one.

    Are you just at the dreaming-of -a-move stage? Or…is a job transfer part of your future? Talk to your healthcare professionals first. Find out if they have colleagues who live in the area and the level of healthcare offered at nearby the hospitals. Visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website and click “pollen counts” to reach the National Allergy Bureau for details about allergens across the country. Talk to as many “locals” as possible. Is there any type of industry in the area that is emitting potential irritants in the air? Use as many resources online as possible to become a detective and discover the best and worst of your new possible locale.

    So you’ve made the decision and it’s time to shop for a new home. There are several items to keep in mind as you travel from one potential abode to another. To make the best use of our time and the realtors, we advised our realtor that we did not even want to consider a house where cats had lived as they are a major trigger for me and no amount of cleaning seems to make a difference. Not everyone has such a severe issue with four-legged creatures, but it helped to eliminate potential disaster for us. We also did not want to consider a house where a smoker had lived as this irritant is exceptionally, well….. irritating. The American Lung Association (ALA) notes that tobacco smoke contains 4,000 chemicals, 200 of which are known poisons. Would I want the insidious “leftovers” in my living space?

    We also did not want to consider homes that were closely surrounded by pine trees because of pine sensitivity. We discussed this with our realtors who were amazed that while many of their clients mentioned allergies, they never considered the type/location of landscaping.

    Look beyond your yard too. In Colorado we discovered (too late) that we lived next door to a lot that sprouted a bumper crop of ragweed in August.

    A potential home in California was located right across the street from land that was vying for dust-bowl status. We did end up purchasing a home that was too close to a major highway in Yorba Linda and learned another lesson the hard way as we cleaned a layer of pollution off our glass table outside each and every day.

  • We also discussed types of heating because we had made a mistake in Colorado when we heated with a wood stove for a few years at the height of the energy crisis. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ( there are more than 11 million wood burning units in America today. Wood burning usually occurs in cold, oxygen-poor conditions that increase the emissions of carbon monoxide and other inhaled chemicals and particles. If you must buy a home with a wood burning stove have it checked by a professional. Radiant, electric and forced air heating are alternatives, but costs vary considerably.
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    After you are settled, remember the American Lung Association recommends changing your furnace filter the first day of each season and using filters that meet its indoor air quality guidelines with a Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) rating of 10 or higher.
Published On: August 03, 2006