Did you know that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside our homes, schools and offices is often two to five times more polluted than outdoor air? Since we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, we’re actually getting the majority of our chemical exposure at home – the very place we thought we were safe!
Children are naturally more susceptible to pollutants than adults because they take in more air relative to body size and because their developing organs and respiratory systems are more vulnerable to certain chemicals, particles and allergens. Even being closer to the ground allows children to breathe in more than their fair share of heavier airborne chemicals.
Sources of Indoor Pollution
Lots of things contribute to poor indoor air quality, including the chemicals that get released into the air by furnishings, building materials, office products, cleaning products and other everyday items. Chemical exposure from indoor air has been linked to eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, coughing, wheezing, asthma and even cancer.
Moisture leading to indoor mold growth is another common source of pollution that can trigger allergies and other respiratory problems. Also affecting indoor air quality is poor ventilation in tightly sealed and insulated buildings. These buildings may do a good job of minimizing energy costs, but because they don’t allow enough fresh outdoor air to flow indoors, they can allow contaminants to build up inside, negatively impacting the air we breathe and, ultimately, our health.
Breathe Easier: Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality
In spite of the dangers of indoor air pollution, there are currently no defined federal regulations protecting indoor air quality. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help protect your family and the air you breathe. Here are some easy-to-follow suggestions:
Pick Paints Carefully
Paints can release harmful VOCs into the air. Be sure to choose third-party certified, low-emitting paint, such as UL’s GREENGUARD Certified paint, and be wary of paint products labeled “Low VOC,” as this claim typically refers to paint’s impact on outdoor – not indoor – air.
Making your own cleaning supplies out of household products is safe and easy– it just takes a little baking soda and vinegar! Check out the recipes at. If you’re buying cleaning products, choose fragrance-free options that won’t adversely affect air quality.
Give Furniture Some Air
When buying furniture, select hard woods over pressed woods, as chemicals such as formaldehyde are often used in pressed woods. Also, before you bring any new furniture inside, allow it to air out for at least two weeks outside or in a space that’s not heavily used.
Choose UL’s GREENGUARD Certified Mattresses
When you see UL’s GREENGUARD mark on mattresses, you know that samples of the product have been tested for low chemical emissions by a third party, independent company. You can trust that your child will have a safer and healthier sleep.
Clear the Air
Because of potentially dangerous fumes, it’s a good idea to paint a new baby’s room at least a month before your child moves in to give it ample time to air out. Be sure to keep your space well ventilated while painting and take frequent fresh-air breaks.
Eliminate the Dangers
According to the EPA, one of the simplest ways to improve indoor air quality is to reduce or eliminate possible pollutants. Common pollutants include chemical emissions, mold spores, dust, animal allergens, radon, combustion gases, tobacco smoke and pesticides. Washing your bedding regularly to eliminate dust mites, only smoking outdoors and using unscented versions of products are just a few things that you can try.