Did you know that most humans spend 90% of their lives indoors?
Add on to this the fact that we are living at a time when our understanding of the connection between our indoor environment and our health is understood and scrutinized at a level much greater than ever before.
The relevance of this connection is particularly apparent in children, who are the most likely to be negatively affected by a less than ideal indoor environment that may be characterized by both poor indoor air quality and exposure to surprising everyday materials that may emit low levels of potentially dangerous compounds.
Because of their smaller body size, children actually retain more of the contaminants they are exposed to from environment including those emitted from carpets, paints, cleaning materials, furniture, dust, mold and so on.
In the most severe cases, excessive exposure to indoor air hazards can contribute to coughing, sneezing, headaches, nasal congestion and difficulty breathing in both kids and adults.
So what can you do as a parent to ensure a truly healthy environment in your child’s room?
- Pick The Right Paint: Did you know that many commonly used paints emit potentially hazardous compounds known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds)? These gaseous particles may pose a risk to your child’s health over time but exposure can be limited by using lower VOC products such as water-based acrylic latex paints and other products that may be labelled either “Zero” or “Low” in VOC content.
- Consider An Air Purifying Plant: Although a single house plant is not necessarily a one-stop shop air purifying powerhouse, it can’t hurt to have popular non-toxic varieties such as bamboo palm, spider plant or boston fern in your child’s room. These plants are known for their air purifying qualities and in addition to adding an aesthetic touch, may be able to modestly improve the overall air quality in the room as well.
- Don’t Be Fooled By Air Fresheners: This isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last time you will read this here on eieihome.com, but it’s important to acknowledge that those plug-in air fresheners that so many of us love actually do more harm than good when it comes to indoor air quality. Although they may temporarily improve the aroma in a room, they contain compounds and chemicals that reduce air quality in the long term. You will be better served relying on essential oils to provide an aroma, and a HEPA-filter loaded air purifier ( which generally run in the $100-125 range) to serve the purposes you think that plug-in freshener is serving.
- Cut The Carpeting: Carpets, especially wall to wall carpeting, can be a breeding ground for mold, dust, dander and other less than ideal particles. Kids crawl and play on the floor all the time, leaving them particularly susceptible to these hazards. Ceramic, wood, cork and linoleum are ideal flooring options for a child’s room and certainly a superior choice to carpet if and when that practical option exists. Keeping a smaller rug on one of these surfaces is preferably as it still slows a cushioned area for play but also one that can be regularly washed and vacuumed with ease. If you have a large carpeted area in your child’s room and tearing it out isn’t feasible, be sure to vacuum it a minimum of twice a week, preferably using a HEPA filter loaded device.
- Keep The Pets Out: Most kids obviously absolutely adore their family pet and animals can play such an important role in a young child’s development. With that being said, minimizing the amount of time a pet spends in a child’s room ( especially if it is carpeted) is a simple way to maintain a high level of air quality and prevent the buildup of dander and allergens. And while you’re busy keeping the real animals away, it is also makes a lot of sense to keep the stuffed animals to a minimum as well as they hold on to all sorts of stuff themselves.
- Easy Ways To Improve Ventilation: Not everyone reading today’s article is in a position to be able to run over to their local home improvement store and install a heavy duty ceiling fan in their child’s room, but starting by simply leaving room doors and windows open when possible is a great way to keep the air moving and to push unwanted air particulates out of your child’s surroundings.
- Go For Floor Model Furniture: One of the most exciting things about having a child from a interior design perspective is planning for the new furniture you will inevitably need for the child’s room. There are two downsides to brand new furniture though! First of all, it’s expensive and secondly it tends to have high levels of VOCs. A great way to address both these issues? Buying floor model furniture when the opportunity to do so arises.