How does Indoor Air Pollution Affect a Baby’s Health?
Indoor air pollution is something many homes in America struggle with, since studies show that the quality of indoor air can be two to five times worse than it is outside. Particulate matter emanating from furniture, toxic cleaning products, and paint (to name just a few indoor toxins) can harm the health of everyone in the home, but if you have a new baby, be aware that it can be particularly risky and that it is especially important to make efforts to lower indoor air pollution levels. For babies who go on to develop asthma in their childhood, indoor air pollution is particularly risky, because poor outdoor air quality forecasts may mean your child needs to stay indoors on given days.
Why are Babies so Sensitive to Poor Air Quality?
Infants spend more time indoors than adults, and they breathe more air per body weight than adults. As noted in a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health, “Their respiratory and other systems are under development. Mouth breathing, which bypasses the filter of the nose, is more common in infants than adults.” Mouth breathing exacerbates the effects of indoor toxins because it pulls pollutants deeper into the respiratory system. Moreover, many babies are placed in newly painted rooms, which is food for thought for new parents who are considering redecorating a room for use as a nursery.
What Factors are Relevant to the Respiratory Health of Babies?
Studies have shown that some of the main sources of indoor pollution include paint and materials used in renovation, the use of gas stoves, smoking, dust mites, and mold. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), common sources of pollution in homes include combustion sources, building materials (including carpets, pressed wood products, and cabinetry), outdoor air pollution that makes its way indoors, viruses, and pet dander. When pollen counts are high, allergy can hit households strongly.
Why are Health-Context Weather Forecasts Important?
If allergies are an issue in your home or you have a newborn, the DailyBreath Forecast can help you to know the days for which it might be a good idea to close windows and doors, because the pollen count can be exceedingly high. This can be assessed through your DailyBreath Risk Index, which lets you know how the weather could possibly affect you and your family. The DailyBreath app will reveal daily environmental exposures, letting you know when a stroll with your baby in the park might be better left for another day.
Reducing Indoor Air Pollution Levels
There are many steps you can take to allow your baby to breathe in clearer, purer air. The first is to purchase a HEPA filter, which can eliminate particles measuring over 0.3 microns from your indoor environment. One with ground-breaking technology that destroys the particulates, so they are not re-circulated into the air, is Molekule. Control humidity levels, keeping them at under 50% all day, with the help of a dehumidifier or HVAC system if necessary. Opt for solid rather than pressed wood furniture, and do not burn paraffin candles in the home. Finally, try to reduce the number of chemicals you use to clean your home, opting for a quality steam cleaner instead. To wipe down furniture or remove dust, use essential oils mixed with water or gentle natural cleansers.
Research indicates that many homes have higher indoor pollution levels than is acceptable. If you have a newborn in the home, it is especially important to reduce toxic buildup through a HEPA filter and a reliance on more natural cleaning methods. When it comes to candles, replace paraffin with soy candles, preferably containing therapeutic grade essential oils for all the fragrance without the pollution.
Contributing Author: Cass Best