Air quality in our homes is an important factor in the health of our children, far more than ever thought before. As parents, you spend the majority of your day doing things to keep your children healthy. The other parts of your day are spent thinking about ways to keep them healthy.
We feed them healthy foods, get their vaccinations and take them to the doctor when they feel bad. Additionally, we keep them clean, happy and sheltered. Moreover, we often assume that what hurts them lurks outside the confines of our homes. Unfortunately, we sometimes fail to consider how indoor air quality affects their overall health. Below are some things to think about.
Not to sound like an alarmist, but there are quite a few home health risks that can negatively affect the health of you and your kids — many of them tied to air quality. The dangers break down into two subcategories: pollutants and allergens (both of which can cause respiratory and other health problems).
The big three indoor air pollutants that are easy to detect and address are smoke, radon, and carbon monoxide. Don’t smoke indoors, obviously. When it comes to radon and carbon monoxide, trace amounts can cause problems, while substantial amounts are deadly. It’s worth getting an inspection and then installing detectors. Beyond that, other pollutants that can become airborne include viruses and bacteria, nitrogen oxide and particulates from burning natural elements (like wood) and building material compounds like asbestos and formaldehyde.
Allergens affect everyone differently, but it’s best to avoid them if possible. “Dust” is the catch-all term for what transports allergens through the air and into your respiratory system, but the particulates that make up your home’s “dust” can vary. You and your kids could be breathing pollen, mold, dust mites, fungal spores, microscopic bug parts (cockroaches, mostly), and pet byproducts (hair, feathers, and dander).
Signs and Symptoms
Is your indoor air quality up to snuff? There are signs around the home and symptoms exhibited by your children that can tell you. One thing to watch out for is the visual appearance of mold, mildew, and excess pet hair. If you can see it with your naked eye, it’s already a huge problem. Also be on the lookout for any damp areas on your floors, ceilings, and walls. This is a dead giveaway that something bad is lurking beneath the surface.
As far as health symptoms, be on the lookout for the following: itchy, watery eyes; irritation of mucous membranes (inside nose and throat); dizziness and headaches; and shortness of breath. If your kids show these symptoms, you may need to take big steps to clean your air.
How to Clean Your Air
Here are some surefire ways to improve your home’s air quality and protect your children:
- Replace your home’s air filters every three months. It’s easy and extremely important.
- Control moisture. Check vents and ducts leading outdoors for debris (especially your dryer vent). Repair any plumbing leaks — no matter how small.
- Invest in an air purifier. Ones with HEPA filters remove 99.97 percent of unwanted particles from your breathing air, so it’s worth it.
- Wash your bedding and blankets weekly. Vacuum as much as you can stand to, but make sure it’s a good machine with a HEPA filter or you’re just blowing stuff around the house. If you have pets, this goes double.
- Keep houseplants. Many types of plants will help clean the air inside your home. However, as Esurance notes, be careful not to populate your home with high pollen-producing or otherwise allergy-triggering varieties.
Indoor air pollution is ubiquitous. To avoid long-term health consequences, you need to get your home’s air quality under control as soon as possible. Doing so is as much of an investment in your kids’ future as anything else you do to protect them daily.
Written by Guest Author Sheila Olsen • fitsheila.com