Indoor air quality is how clean the air is that we breath while indoors. Unfortunately, due to weather-tight homes, dust, pollen, dander, chemical cleaners, etc, the indoor air we breath can be as bad as the most polluted city. Indoor air quality is listed as one of the EPA’s top three health concerns.
What we bring into our homes directly affects our indoor air quality. The good news is we can choose what we bring into our homes.
Here’s a few easy ways to improve the air quality in your child’s (or your) bedroom:
1. Ventilate. The easiest way to improve your indoor air quality is to open the window and let the fresh air in. This will get rid of any accumulated VOCs. For the winter months, a good-quality Hepa air filter is a great thing to have, such as the Austin Air Filter. Consider using a washable electrostatic air filter for your HVAC vents which trap five times the amount of airborne particles as opposed to a regular filter. This will end up saving you money over time since you will never have to replace another air filter again.
2. Vacuum often. This will get rid of allergy-triggering dust and dander (if you have pets). Vacuum or wash anything else that traps dust such as stuffed animals, comforters, and window treatments.
4. Use natural cleaners. Most common cleaners have harmful chemical ingredients. Most of these chemicals are not tested for toxicity before being put into products we buy off the shelves. We are the lab rats who end up testing for product safety! An easy solution is to make your own inexpensive, non-toxic cleaners with water, vinegar, a touch of essential oil to scent, and a few drops of liquid castille soap, or buy a natural cleaner through Green Irene.
5. Buy natural toys. A lot of flexible plastic toys such as blow-up balls or blow-up chairs, etc, have harmful chemicals that offgass into the air. A good rule of thumb is if you open up a package and smell that “new” vinyl smell, it’s got to go right back to the store. For future purchases, consider natural toys made out of wood or cloth, and don’t forget beeswax or soy crayons and no-VOC paint for crafts.
6. Natural bedding and mattresses. Kids spend a lot of time in their beds sleeping (or so moms wish!) Make it a safe haven by using organic cotton bedding. Organic fabrics aren’t treated with formaldehyde, and are kinder to the earth in how they are processed. If you can’t afford one now, plan to save up for an organic cotton, wool, or hemp mattress. Regular mattresses are full of fire retardants and other nasty chemicals which kids will be breathing in while sleeping. If you are planning on having a baby soon, organic mattresses are made to fit in cribs too.
7. Redecorating. If you need to replace the flooring, consider earth-friendly alternatives like bamboo or cork flooring instead of dust-collecting carpets that can also offgass VOCs. Use low or no-VOC paints on the walls. Buy furniture made of solid wood or metal, not pressboard which contains formaldehyde.
8. Clothing. Chemical flame-retardants can be in our child’s clothing. An inexpensive way to dress your child is to buy used clothes from garage sales, consignment sales or second-hand stores, since the chemicals have most likely been washed out. For new clothing, buy organic items which haven’t been treated with chemicals and are made with earth-friendly practices.
9. Have fun! Laughter is the best medicine and happy people live longer!
This blog post was written by Linda Tarr, a Green Irene Eco-Consultant based in Maumelle, Arkansas.