Your children are potentially breathing in toxins day and night, whether outside or inside your home. Generally, people associate air pollution with outside air, but according to the EPA, the level of indoor air pollution is estimated to be 2-5 times higher than outdoor pollution. Considering that most children spend most of their time indoors, indoor pollution is becoming a significant concern. Many energy-efficient homes in the market today have little ventilation, which doesn’t help with indoor air pollution.
There are various types of pollution, in this article we will focus on Indoor air pollution and its effects. Effects with particular interest concerning allergic and respiratory health disorders. Indoor air pollutants also cause symptoms like sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, fatigue, headaches, difficulty breathing, and dizziness.
What Causes Indoor Pollution
Indoor air pollution is often released from molds, dust mites, bacteria, fungi, and pests (mice, rats, cockroaches).
Most products like finishes, paint strippers, rug and oven cleaners, pesticides, paints and lacquers, dry-cleaning fluids, home furnishings, mosquito repellants, and building materials also release indoor pollutants.
Kerosene also emits significant amounts of CO, SO2, PM2.5, and NO2, even though it is considered a cleaner alternative for biomass, solid fuels, and coal. All these air pollutants can potentially trigger allergy or asthma symptoms among children.
Passive tobacco smoke is considered more carcinogenic compared to the mainstream smoke active smokers inhale. This is because second-hand has a complex mixture surpassing 4000 chemicals, with more than 40 compounds identified as carcinogens in particle and vapor phases.
Vapor-phase compounds include vinyl chloride, benzene, and acrolein, while the particulate-phase include nicotine, alkaloids, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aromatic amines, and others. Other than carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead, there are quite a few other pollutants that affect the air quality in an enclosed area.
Volatile organic compounds originate mainly from compounds and compounds. The main indoor sources are perfumes, hair sprays, furniture polish, glues, air fresheners repellents, wood preservatives, and other products. The most important health effect is that the imitation of their eye, throat and nose. In more severe cases there may be headaches, nausea and loss of coordination. In the long term, some of the pollutants are supposed to damage to other parts of the body and the liver.
Tobacco smoke generates a broad range of damaging chemicals and is known to cause cancer. It’s well-known that passive smoking causes a wide range of issues into the smoker (the person who’s in the exact same room using a condom and is not a smoker) including burning eyes, nose, and throat irritation to cancer, bronchitis, acute asthma, and a decrease in lung function.
- Pesticides, if used carefully along with the producers, instructions followed carefully they do not cause too much damage to the indoor air.
- Biological pollutants include pollen from crops, mite, hair from pets, fungi, parasites, and some bacteria. Most of them can cause asthma, hay fever, and other allergic diseases and are allergens.
- Formaldehyde is a gas which comes mainly from carpeting, particle boards, and insulation . It may cause allergies in some people and causes irritation.
- Asbestos is principally a concern because it is suspected to cause cancer.
- Radon is a gas that’s emitted naturally from the soil. Due to contemporary houses it’s confined inside the home resulting in harm to the dwellers.
According to the World Health Organization, about 1.5 million premature deaths annually are directly linked to indoor air pollution emitted from the use of solid fuels. Meaning more than 4,000 people die daily from this, with over half of the victims being children under the age of five. Indoor air pollution is relatively low in rural areas which is contradictory to the benefits of living in urban areas.
How Does Indoor Air Pollution Affect Children?
Children, compared to adults, breathe in and retain more polluted air per body weight unit. Air pollution, therefore, has a more significant impact on kids than adults because their lungs and elimination systems are still developing.
When a child’s body is overloaded, they can’t efficiently deal with more toxins. Hence, children can begin to have adverse reactions when exposed to new paint, cleaning materials, carpet, furniture, or furniture because they may off-gas dust, pollen, or molds.
Relative to their size, children have an increased need for oxygen because they have narrower airways compared to adults. Thus, while adults will have a slight response to irritation caused by air pollutants, children could experience potentially severe obstruction to their airways.
This is why oedema causes dramatic effects on a newborn’s airway that an adult. Children also have smaller peripheral airways, which means that intra-lumenal debris in their case could cause more significant obstruction.
Besides, babies also have fewer inter-alveolar pores, which produces a negative effect on their collateral ventilation and increases their likelihood of atelectasis and hyperinflation, which causes concern.
Indoor air pollution can also impact children’s academic performance by lowering the concentration levels and increases cases of absenteeism due to allergies and asthma.
Because indoor air pollution reduces children’s immunity and weakens their lungs make them more susceptible to airborne infectious diseases like flu and cold. This kind of pollution also impacts the development of their endocrine glands, immune, and nervous system.
Gases or particles are released into our air throughout our homes from many sources. However, the room your child sleeps should be the most important, especially because sleep allows our bodies to regenerate.
When children are sleeping, their bodies go into deep repair mode as their immune system attempts to remove impurities. With additional toxins in the air, their bodies experience difficulty detoxifying while in the bedroom.
Since children spend most of their time in the bedroom, whether napping, playing, or sleeping at night, parents should consider ways to reduce indoor pollution.
Ways to Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
Use Natural Cleaners
Most household cleaners contain a lot of chemical cleaners that are potentially both harmful for you and your children.
We recommend that you be on the lookout for cleaners with 2-butoxyethanol (toxic solvent responsible for irritating the eyes and damaging red blood cells), ethanolamine, and formaldehyde (can trigger asthma), and DEGBE (inflames and irritates the lungs).
Before purchasing cleaners, we recommend looking at the ingredient list very carefully. Luckily, you can create gentle and effective DIY cleaners using natural ingredients like lemon juice, baking soda, olive oil, castile soap, vinegar, and essential oils.
Natural cleaners have no chemical smell, are cheaper than store-bought cleaning supplies, and they are natural disinfectants.
Invest in an Air Purifier
Indoor pollutants like mildew, mold, chemical cleaners, cooking fumes, and pet dander are mostly visible and rampart. This is why we recommend investing in an air purifier. Air purifiers are witnessing a increasing rate of adoption in urban areas.
If you use air purifiers in conjunction with other methods, you will significantly improve your in-home air quality, which allows you to promote a more restful sleep for your children and the entire family.
Advocate for Your Children
Even if you are not a smoker, you could be bringing visitors to your house who enjoy a cigarette or two. Tobacco smell results from toxic particles and gases that tend to cling on clothing and hair.
As your child’s advocate, don’t allow smokers in your house or near the main entrances and windows. If they have to come inside, ask them to thoroughly wash their hands or remove their jacket or coat.
Bring Plants into your House
A plant nursery is the most attractive and inexpensive way to improve air quality in your house. Houseplants have microorganisms leaving them responsible for removing all kinds of chemicals like benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, formaldehyde, and ammonia.
We recommend spider plants, bamboo, mums, ficus, aloe, or any plant in the dracaena family. These plants aren’t just pretty; they also not need constant watering to remain alive.
Know What Comes Out of your Humidifier
Most humidifiers can breed bacteria and mold in just a couple minutes of being turned on. These humidifiers further circulate bacteria and mold around the house.
We recommend investing in humidifiers that use ultraviolet light technology and cleaning humidifiers in your home regularly.
While it may not be practical to move from a busy city to a rural area to keep your child safe from indoor air pollution, taking specific steps towards can help reduce your child’s exposure to air pollution.