In 1993, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported on a respiratory technologist who developed occupational asthma after being exposed to sterilizing agents in her work. Whenever she cleaned bronchoscopes, her asthma worsened.
The sterilizing agent glutaraldehyde may be unusual, but most American homes have their own share of asthma-aggravating allergens. In 1993 The American Journal of Epidemiology reported on a study of 457 asthmatic Canadian children ages 3 to 4, which compared them to 457 control subjects. Independent risk factors for asthma included heavy smoking by the mother, the use of a humidifier in the child's room and an electric heating system in the house. Less important but still significant were the presence of other smokers in the home, a history of pneumonia, the absence of breast-
feeding and a family history of asthma. Other studies have shown that smoke from a fireplace or wood stove can aggravate asthma, as can a host of common household cleansers, paints, paint thinners, perfumes and some types of incense.
The problem with humidifiers, which are supposed to help relieve respiratory congestion, is that they are breeding grounds for molds, bacteria and other germs. To prevent these problems, add liquid grapefruit seed extract to your humidifier's water reservoir. Grapefruit seed or citrus seed extract, which kills viruses, bacteria, yeasts, molds, parasites and other pathogens on contact even when greatly diluted, is sold in health food stores.
Tea tree oil has similar properties, in addition to a sinus-clearing antiseptic fragrance reminiscent of eucalyptus oil and turpentine. In fact, some people relieve sinus congestion by placing a drop on the upper lip, just under the nose, at bedtime. Unlike liquid grapefruit seed extract, tea tree oil is not water-soluble, so for best results, dissolve a teaspoon of tea tree oil with an equal or larger amount of vodka or other alcohol before mixing it with water.
To disinfect a humidifier that is used daily, add 1/8 teaspoon of liquid grapefruit seed extract or tea tree oil/vodka solution to the water reservoir once a week, and add several drops of either solution to the reservoir daily.