10 Easy Tips
With a new baby or small children at home, no doubt your top priority is their health and wellbeing. You provide nutritious meals and make sure they get enough sleep. You keep them safe and ensure they receive the medical attention their growing bodies need. Have you ever thought about the air quality in your home and how it affects their health and wellbeing?
Effects of Indoor Air Pollutants
From time to time, we may all experience the adverse health effects of indoor air quality. After a single exposure, for instance, we might have some eye irritation, headache, runny nose or fatigue. These effects can be short term and quite treatable. The problem can sometimes be resolved simply be eliminating the source of the irritation once identified.
Children breathe in and retain more air pollution per unit of body weight than adults. They are at greater risk for health concerns caused by pollution because their lungs and body elimination systems are still developing. So, it’s vitally important to improve and maintain the quality of your indoor air, even if symptoms are not noticeable. Of course, you should speak with your doctor about any symptoms that do occur.
The primary causes of indoor air quality problems are those pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air. Insufficient ventilation can increase pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute indoor pollutants, and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. Once you’re aware of common indoor pollutants, you can take steps to control it and help reduce the risk of health concerns.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are lots of practical things you can begin to do right now to improve the air quality of your home. Reduce the risk of adverse health effects by starting with the following actions.
- Don’t smoke. Is there really anything more that needs to be said?
- Avoid using products made with toxic chemicals.
Check the ingredients list of the cleaning products and personal care products you use on a regular basis. Choose organic products whenever possible.
- Keep humidifiers clean.
Humidifiers are commonly used in children’s bedrooms. It’s vital to keep these appliances clean according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Refill with fresh water daily as they can become a breeding ground for biological contaminants. Evaporation trays in air conditioners, refrigerators and dehumidifiers need to be cleaned frequently as well.
- Clear away the dust bunnies.
Common household dust contains many chemicals that can contaminate the indoor air. Remove dust, pollen, animal dander and other allergy-causing agents by vacuuming regularly. That includes upholstered furniture, drapes and mattresses.
In today’s energy efficient homes, there’s not a lot of ventilation. Open the windows and use window fans as well as kitchen, bathroom and clothes dryer fans that are vented outdoors to mitigate the indoor pollutants.
- Don’t let mold grow.
Mold grows in areas that are not properly ventilated. Common areas include the bathroom, basement, in the soil of overwatered house plants and on produce. Don’t overlook the attic and crawl spaces as potential sources of mold and be sure these areas are well ventilated also.
- Keep indoor emissions to a minimum.
Be sure that the doors in wood-burning stoves are tight-fitting. Use only dried/cured wood and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when starting, stoking or putting out a fire in a wood stove; never use pressure-treated wood indoors. Maintain all home HVAC systems including flues, chimneys, furnaces and central air conditioning. Inspect annually and promptly make repairs as necessary. Avoid also the use of scented candles as they can emit soot into the air. Instead try non-toxic, soy-based candles.
- Choose organic and natural finishes.
Babies and young children spend a lot of time in the bedroom, so choose organic mattresses and solid wood furniture with natural finishes. Keep away from any composite or pressed wood pieces that can emit toxins.
- Launder regularly.
Yes, you may be doing this already, but don’t forget the stuffed animals, and use hot water when washing bed linens.
- Purify the air.
A HEPA room air purifier reduces allergens, gases, odors and chemicals.
Improving the quality of your home’s air may not have been on your to-do list. Now that you know the role indoor pollutants can play in your family’s health, don’t you want to do everything you can to protect them?