Having a working gas heater can make your home comfortable when temperatures start to drop. Unfortunately for asthmatics, gas heaters can present some problems when it comes to maintaining respiratory health. If you are among the 2,488,417 people who suffered from asthma in 2014, it's important that you learn to recognize common irritants caused by gas heaters.

Here are three common irritants, and some simple ways you can avoid having them infiltrate your home.

1. Nitrogen Dioxide

Your gas-powered heater produces an odorless gas called nitrogen dioxide. While most people don't have a problem with the presence of this gas in their homes, asthmatics can experience serious side effects when exposed to low levels of nitrogen dioxide over an extended period of time. The nitrogen molecules in nitrogen dioxide can penetrate your lungs, irritating the mucous membrane that protects the cells in your lungs.

Over time this irritation can lead to chronic bronchitis and even an increase in emergency room visits for respiratory issues. To prevent nitrogen dioxide from lingering in your home, be sure that you have a heating professional direct your gas heater's flue outdoors. This will channel any nitrogen dioxide away from your home, where it cannot irritate your asthma.

2. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is an organic substance often used for preservation in a medical setting. Some items in your home, like upholstered furniture and furnishings made from particleboard, can contain formaldehyde as well. Over time, the formaldehyde in these furnishings is released into the air. Since formaldehyde can trigger an asthma attack, it's important to recognize that your heater can be your greatest ally in preventing exposure to formaldehyde in your home.

Studies show that temperature plays a role in determining how quickly furnishings release formaldehyde. Work with a heating professional to ensure that your thermostat is working, then reduce the temperature in your home from about 30 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius. This will result in a 70% reduction in the level of formaldehyde being released into the air inside your home.

3. Humidity

If you are relying on a gas space heater to warm your home in an effort to reduce heating costs, you could be exacerbating your asthma symptoms. Humidity in the air can lead to mold growth, and mold spores have the potential to trigger an asthma attack.

Since a 30,000 BTU/hour space heater can produce up to a third of a gallon of water per hour, the potential for mold growth using space heaters is increased. Instead, work with a heating professional to ensure that your vented gas heating system is clean and well-maintained. This will help you get the heat you need without breaking the bank, or exposing yourself to mold spores.

Living with asthma can be difficult, but when you work with your gas-powered heating system, you can better manage your asthma symptoms. Channel nitrogen dioxide outdoors through a flue, lower the thermostat setting of your gas-powered heater to stall the release of formaldehyde, and have a heating professional maintain your gas-powered heating system to eliminate your reliance on space heaters so mold spores won't agitate your asthma.

If you have questions, visit Summers & Smith Cooling.