Most children under 24 months old spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, where research proves the air can be two to five times more contaminated than it is outdoors, says Alan Greene, MD, a pediatrician with a special interest in children’s environmental health and the author of Raising Baby Green.
Dirt accumulates indoors for a few reasons:
- Black carbon from street traffic can seep inside and get trapped, making it difficult for kids to breathe, says New York’s Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH). What’s more, tiny airborne particles known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) or as we like to call them “little floaties” originating indoors and also on what we bring into our homes can be very dangerous to a child’s health, upping the risk of cancer and asthma. Then there are the toxins being released into the air from sources like building materials, household furnishings and cleaning products. All of these tiny chemical particles irritate human respiratory track and lungs, especially our tiniest humans.
Here’s three ways to make your indoor air healthier for your baby.
As long as the outside air quality is good (check it at airnow.gov), ventilation can help. When weather permits, open windows, in your child’s room, in main living spaces and anywhere your family spends time, Greene suggests. Running exhaust fans like kitchen and bathroom fans as well as basement ventilation, like an EZ Breathe Ventilation System that exhaust to the outdoors helps send indoor contaminants packing and creates healthier indoor air quality.
- Put a stop to “little floaties” in the air (tiny airborne particles known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs)
When cooking, always use a range hood or stove fan and be sure not to burn, char or blacken food. Ditch the scented candles and incense; instead, use natural herbs and essential oils to freshen the air. Frequently wet-mopping floors and vacuuming carpets (preferably using a vacuum with a HEPA filter) can help eliminate “little floaties” that can attach themselves to dust.
- Kick the habit
Never light up a cigarette (or allow anyone else to!) inside your house or anywhere near your child. And remember that third-hand smoke can cling to your hair and clothes, so it’s really best not to puff at all.