Indoor Air Quality | Child Development
Your indoor air quality impacts child development. Home should be a safe place for your family. Apart from providing a cozy place to live and gather, the home serves as a haven for nutrition, sleep, comfort, and entertainment. But in many homes, these functions can be compromised due to unhealthy levels of allergens, mold, viruses, and bacteria lurking in the air around us.
THE HOME ENVIRONMENT
I’m a big believer that our home environment dramatically impacts our health. Even more so on the health of our children. For bodies and minds to thrive, healthy conditions are required.
The air quality in your home significantly affects your overall physical and mental health, especially in a child’s development. You matter. However, indoor air quality is more critical if children are present.
As parents, our top priority is ensuring our children are safe and healthy. This blog post aims to help you understand how the quality of air in your home has the potential to affect your child’s health and well-being, for better or for worse. It will discuss how air quality can affect their mental, physical, and emotional development and the potential health risks associated with poor air quality. Consider the following points so you can make smarter, more informed choices to ensure that the air quality in your home is optimal for your and your child’s health and overall well-being.
CHILDREN ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO TOXINS
According to research, environmental toxins that harm the body are most dangerous when introduced to the body during sensitive stages of development. This can include fetal development, early childhood, and adolescence.
Children are more vulnerable to environmental toxins’ effects than adults because they have smaller bodies and a less developed immune system. Their developing bodies have higher energy needs and increased oxygen requirements; thus, small and frequent exposures to environmental toxins can cause more damage to a child’s developing body and brain than it would to an adult. This means that the young and developing brain is highly vulnerable to toxicity, especially in early development.
AIR QUALITY & CHILDREN’S TEST SCORESA recent study from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that children with higher indoor air quality have higher scores on math and reading tests. The study, which involved measuring the indoor air quality in schools and comparing it to the student’s academic performance, found that children in classrooms with better air quality scored higher on standardized tests. The study suggests poor indoor air quality can negatively impact children’s cognitive function, leading to lower academic performance. This is not surprising, as the air we breathe plays an important role in our overall health and well-being. When the air we breathe is polluted, it can lead to various health problems, including respiratory issues, headaches, and fatigue. With that, It is crucial to enhance the indoor air quality in homes and schools, where children spend most of their time, to give them the best chance to excel in their learning and performance. Poor air quality can lead to a range of health issues. Children often spend most of their time inside, so the quality of the environment can significantly influence their growth. This means they’re breathing in any pollutants that may be present in your home daily. That said, children exposed to unhealthy air are more likely to develop asthma because air pollutants irritate the lining of the nose or throat, which causes inflammation and makes it hard for muscles in the airway to work correctly. Moreover, some substances can be carried through the air, and being exposed to items that contain a lot of chemicals can affect the air quality in your home. How toxins are absorbed into our bodies and travel through them is different for adults than children. Specific exposures over time can cause learning disabilities, lower IQ scores, and increased hyperactivity symptoms. On the other hand, when you keep your home’s air clean, you’re providing a healthier environment for children, allowing them to develop and grow without being exposed to harmful contaminants. Healthy air can help improve a child’s cognitive development and concentration, reducing stress and promoting better concentration. It also helps boost a child’s immune system, reducing the likelihood of illnesses. You can give your children a head start in life through the gift of clean air.
KEEP YOUR HOME HEALTHY AND SAFE
Just as regular visits to the doctor can help prevent diseases and illnesses, regular testing of the air in your home can help you avoid many of the common causes of indoor air pollution.
UNDERSTANDING THE COMMON CAUSES OF INDOOR AIR POLLUTION
If you haven’t been giving your home an air quality assessment recently, it’s time to do so! While clean carpets, furniture, and humidity may add to a home’s overall air quality, it is also essential to consider more than just dust, dirt, and germs when evaluating the air quality in your home.
A mix of the following sources can cause indoor air pollution:
- Outdoor Air
- Indoor Sources (Building Materials, Appliances & Equipment)
- People (Body Fluids & Waste)
- Pets (Dander & Hair)
- Cleaning Products/Household Products (Mold Spores)
This may surprise many people because it is often assumed that outdoor sources create all the pollutants. Still, many everyday household items can introduce pollutants into your indoor environment.
STEPS TO OPTIMIZING INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Apart from educating yourself about the possible sources of indoor air pollution, you can still do many things to improve the air quality in your home without compromising comfort or convenience.
It only takes a few small changes to alter your habits significantly, and here’s a simple guide on what steps to take to improve air quality in your home.
AVOID ARTIFICIAL FRAGRANCES
Say no to mothballs, air fresheners, or scented candles. To be safe, it’s best to avoid these types of products. They contain harmful chemicals and fragrances, which can cause health problems. Thus, It is important to note that not all fragrances are harmful. You can always opt for natural fragrances, such as essential oils that are produced from plants and contain no chemicals.
AVOID HARMFUL CHEMICALS IN CLEANING INGREDIENTS
If you want to make your home a healthier place to live in, avoid using harsh products that can irritate your respiratory system. For your family’s health, consider using toxin-free cleaning products. Cleaning with natural products is simpler, less expensive, and better for the environment than the alternatives.
If you are looking for natural home cleaning products to use, visit the Environmental Working Group for some great suggestions. In addition, you can visit ECO CRATES of America and see what specials there are this month.
Some questions you should ask when buying anything new for your home:
- Open your windows as much as possible to get fresh air circulating throughout your home
- Check your filters and change your air cleaner bags regularly
- Use natural fabrics
- Instead of synthetic fabrics, opt for natural ones such as cotton, wool, and silk. These fibers are more efficient at releasing dust particles than trapping them.
- Minimize your use of plastics
- Some additives in plastic can off-gas and contaminate the air in our homes and personal spaces. If you want to reduce your exposure to unhealthy chemicals, you should look for alternative storage containers (e.g., glass or ceramic)
- Avoid using pesticides and insecticides as much as possible.
Pesticide exposure in early childhood can lead to neurological problems and is associated with cancer development.
HOUSEPLANTS NATURALLY PURIFY INDOOR AIRWith houseplants, you can let the purifying process start immediately. They consume carbon dioxide and give out fresh oxygen. Research has shown that they can be effective in purifying indoor air. Houseplants are natural air purifiers. They absorb toxins and pollutants from the air, including pet dander, dust mites in mattresses, and formaldehyde from cleaning products. For suggestions on great houseplants to own, check out this blog post: Four Best Houseplants for the Home. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and updates on new blog posts. We never want to miss a chance to connect with you and help you in your journey to a healthier home.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 15). Children’s Environmental Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/tracking/topics/ChildrensEnvironmentalHealth.htm
- Durán, N., Eichholtz, P., Kok, N., & Palacios, J. (1970, January 1). [PDF] indoor air quality and student performance: Evidence from a large scale field study in primary schools: Semantic scholar. [PDF] Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance: Evidence from A Large Scale Field Study in Primary Schools | Semantic Scholar. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Indoor-Air-Quality-and-Student-Performance%3A-from-A-Dur%C3%A1n-Eichholtz/35b0f9068b6266d15c8f3f8b0484cbd9f21c5b55
- Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). EPA. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/how-does-indoor-air-quality-impact-student-health-and-academic-performance
- Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). How Does Indoor Air Quality Impact Student Health and Academic Performance? EPA. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/how-does-indoor-air-quality-impact-student-health-and-academic-performance
- First in Air Quality. IQAir. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.iqair.com/newsroom/can-clean-air-increase-child-iq
- Hauptman, M., & Woolf, A. D. (2017, December 1). Childhood ingestions of environmental toxins: What are the risks? Pediatric annals. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982419/
- Yahoo! (n.d.). Gas stoves have given 650,000 U.S. children asthma, study finds. Yahoo! News. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.yahoo.com/news/gas-stoves-have-given-650000-us-children-asthma-study-finds-204619540.html