Caring For Little Lungs: Indoor Air And Its Effects On Babies And Children, by Kari Clarke
It is estimated that the average American will spend roughly 87% of their lifetime indoors. Adults may get a normal break from indoor environments because of work and errands. Young children — especially infants — spend almost every minute of their lives within the confines of the home, and we often assume that keeping them indoors helps keep them healthier. As it turns out, it all depends on the sort of indoor air quality that you have.
What Affects Indoor Air Quality
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) generally refers to the nature or condition of the breathable air within a confined space. There are several factors that can affect the sort of IAQ your home has. EPA listed some of the more common ones as mold, dust mites, cigarette smoke, humidity, cleanliness of the area, and pet dander. In other cases, the very paint that you use to add vibrancy to your home may carry harmful compounds that are released into the air. All these come together to build a negative indoor climate that can have adverse effects on everyone. Sadly, the most vulnerable to poor IAQ are infants and children.
What Can Parents Do
So what can you do as a parent? For starters, switching to natural or organic-based cleaners instead of chemical-based ones can make a big difference to the quality of the air. Removing harmful compounds that get distributed in the air can spare children from inhaling them. Bringing in air-purifying plants like Aloe Vera and the Spider Plant help clear the air naturally. For something more consistent, you can opt to invest in a reliable air purifier. Having an air purifier in your infant’s room can help boost the IAQ of your home and give you peace of mind. If you have budget concerns, something as simple as opening the windows and ventilating the space can improve the indoor air.
Immediate And Long-Term Effects Of Bad IAQ
Infants spend nine months in the womb to develop, but as parents, we should never forget that development continues well after the child is born. EPA says that when the IAQ is poor, some of the immediate effects include eye and nose irritation, dizziness and fatigue. Infants exposed to poor IAQ may also experience delays in the development of their lungs. In other cases, the effect does not show up until the child has been exposed for several years. Some of the more common long-term effects are respiratory diseases like asthma and allergies, and children who develop respiratory diseases are often unable to take part in sports activities that can help them grow stronger. Ensuring healthy IAQ in the home can minimize this risk greatly.
While it is extremely troubling that the very air that your child breathes can greatly affect them, you can make sure that your children are given the best sort of environment to grow and develop healthily. It is a blessing that there are steps to take to ensure that your home’s indoor air quality can remain at a healthy level that everyone may benefit from.