Indoor Air Quality and Children’s Health
When it comes to your children’s health, there aren’t any big secrets. Children respond well to a lot of the same things that keep adults healthy. This includes getting a lot of exercise, eating a well-rounded diet full of whole foods, and having enough of time to unwind and destress. However, there is one thing that a lot of parents may overlook when it comes to their children’s well-being. We often don’t think about the cleanliness of the air in our homes. After all, who can think about how clean the air is when you are constantly having to wipe off counter tops and vacuum up dust bunnies? However, clean air at home is crucial for a child’s healthy development.
A stuffy home can contain air that is more polluted than the atmosphere outside. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air indoors is up to two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Allergens, smoke, construction materials, and chemicals from cosmetics and cleaning products are just some of the pollutants contaminating your average household. Considering we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors, this can have a huge impact on your children’s health. Poor indoor air quality has the potential to trigger and exacerbate multiple ailments in children, including asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, and other pulmonary illnesses.
Warning signs of pulmonary illnesses in children include:
- Recurrent coughing
- Recurrent pneumonia or bronchiolitis
- Wheezing and crackling sounds in chest
- Fast or labored breathing
- Shortness of breath during exercise or eating
- Poor growth or failure to gain weight
- Low oxygen levels in the blood
How to Reduce Allergens and Indoor Pollutants
Ventilation is one of the keys to improving the air quality in your home. Hire a professional to evaluate your house’s central air conditioning system and duct work. They should be able to recommend how best to create proper venting around combustible appliances, make sure your clothes dryer vents directly outside, and take other measures that can improve your home’s overall ventilation. Any time you have to use cleaners, solvents, or other chemicals that pollute your home’s air quality, be sure to open the windows afterward to let fresh air in and indoor pollutants filter out.
Consider getting an electrostatic air filter that helps clean the indoor pollutants out of the air in your home. An electrostatic air filter removes pollen, dust mites, mold, bacteria, and other allergens that can exacerbate your child’s illness. Electrostatic pleated air filters are able to charge particles in the air so that they become attracted to the metal in the actual filter. From there, the polyester or cotton paper collects small particles, removing them from the air completely. While they can be a bit more pricey than other models, electrostatic versions are the most effective air filters for the home. You can find replacement filters online or at hardware stores, though a custom air filter will need to be ordered online to get the right match.
Besides proper ventilation and a quality air filter, you can reduce allergens in the home by having a good cleaning routine. Make sure that kids shower and change clothes when they come in dirty and covered in dust. Avoid having allergen-heavy landscaping near your home, and outfit your interior with houseplants that filter irritants and pollutants from your air instead. Wash your bedding and other home linens regularly with hot water that kills bacteria, mold, and other allergens. Furthermore, have carpets and floors professionally cleaned regularly.
Besides having clean air indoors, you can help strengthen your child’s immune system with plenty of outdoor playtime that lets their systems adjust to naturally occurring allergens in the air. Engage in some fun outdoor activities regularly such as backyard camping, bird watching, and riding bikes. Spending plenty of time outdoors is crucial for a child’s physical as well as mental health.
Since we spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors, the pollutants in your home’s air supply can wreak havoc on your children’s health. Make sure to keep your home’s air supply clean with proper ventilation, a high-quality air filter, and a solid house-cleaning routine. Keep an eye out for pulmonary illness in children, but bolster their immunity to pollutants with plenty of playtime outside that also promotes their overall mental and physical health.