This post was written by Erica Montes, editor for LiveWellTesting.com
As a parent, you will do everything possible to protect your children. Unfortunately, most parents often fail to notice the various health hazards present right in their home. Indoor air, which is two to five times more contaminated than the outdoor air, is one such health concern for everyone at home, especially the tiny tots.
Babies are particularly susceptible to indoor air pollution because their immune system is underdeveloped. Besides, children under the age of 24 months often spend most of their time in their room, exposing themselves to air contaminants almost 24/7. Constant exposure to these contaminants can lead to several health issues such as irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and even asthma.
Fortunately, parents can protect their children from these pollutants by implementing a few simple methods to make indoor air healthier.
Choose the Right Bedding for the Baby
The purpose of the bedding is to not only keep your baby warm, but also protect him/her from air contaminants such as dust particles, pollen, and mold. That's why choosing a latex foam mattress instead of a fibrous one is a good idea. Make sure to use organic covers to limit dust mites that newborns inhale when asleep. Wash these covers in chemical-and-perfume-free detergents so that the fumes associated with detergents won't cause irritation to your baby's throat. Using hot water to clean these covers is the best way to eliminate dust mites, if any.
Apart from mites, dust particles, pollen, dander, and mold are also tossed in the air when you clean the bedding daily. These air pollutants can lead to serious health problems such as asthma or even bronchitis. Hypoallergenic bedding can be used to curtail these contaminants and improve the air quality in your child's bedroom.
Purify Indoor Air
One of the best ways to reduce indoor-air pollutants is to install air purifiers in your baby's room. The market is overflowing with a wide variety of air purifiers. You can choose the one that fits your requirements and budget. But, make sure it consists of High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters as these are the most efficient. They can remove 99.97% particles bigger than 0.3-micron in diameter.
However, before installing an air purifier, make sure to get your indoor air quality tested. If you don't have the budget for this, you can buy a DYI indoor air quality testing kit. You can collect the air samples and send them over to a lab for testing. You will get the results usually in a couple of weeks by email.
Say No to Toxic Paints
Did you know wall paints and finishes continue to emit toxic chemicals for years after application? These chemicals are nothing but a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can lead to short and long-term adverse health effects. Apart from causing health issues, VOCs also pose a serious threat to the environment. However, strict environmental regulations have prompted the development of low-VOC or zero-VOC paints. Make sure to purchase VOC-free paints so that your toddlers don't inhale toxic fumes when sleeping.
VOCs are also found in aerosol sprays, cleansers, disinfectants, moth repellents, and even air fresheners. So, the next time you go grocery shopping, stick with products marked ‘VOC-free’ or the ones containing organic ingredients.
Reduce Pet Dander
Pets shed dead skin cells and hair (or feathers), which may impact your baby's lungs and sinus health. Though regular grooming can help reduce the spread of dander, you can’t stop your pets from shedding altogether. Regular washing of bedding carried in and out of your toddler's room can also limit the spread of dander.
Keeping your pets out of your baby's room may not be enough because dander can travel through air. It can be found even in the areas where pets are not allowed. Fortunately, HEPA filters can trap pet dander and stop them from entering your tot's room. My advice is to install HEPA filters in your home wherever possible.
Manage Indoor Humidity
High humidity not only makes the air heavier and causes difficulty in breathing, it also leads to the growth of unwanted fungus, yeast, and bacteria. The level of indoor humidity may differ from place to place. However, it should always be between 30 to 50 percent, with the ideal level being about 45 percent.
Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity level in the nursery. There are two ways to decrease indoor humidity levels. You can either install exhaust fans in the rooms with higher humidity levels (although this can be expensive) or install a dehumidifier in the nursery, which is relatively cost-effective. However, you will need to clean the dehumidifier daily to keep it in excellent working condition.
Most of us are unaware of the fact that indoor air can be more polluted than outside air. Several different allergens, such as dust particles, mold, pet dander, and volatile chemicals used in conventional cleaners, can contribute to indoor air pollution. While these allergens are a potential health hazard for everyone in the house, they’re a major concern for parents as babies are more susceptible to them. Fortunately, you can take various steps to ensure your children breathe safe and clean air. The above five tips are the best way to guarantee this.