Indoor Air Quality and Infants: What Parents Should Know
Many individuals in the United States spend 90 percent or more of their time indoors. Limiting access to the outdoors can result in poor health outcomes since indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.
Although the effects of indoor air pollution is not fully understood, research links it to an array of health problems. These health problems range from damage to the kidneys, liver, nervous system, and brain to developmental disorders, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and deficits in lung function. Find out why parents with infants should be concerned about their indoor air quality and their homes.
Higher Susceptibility of Infants
Infants feel the impact of indoor air pollution more acutely than adults since their respiratory and other systems are not fully developed. They also spend more time indoors and breathe more oxygen than adults (relative to their body weight). As such, they are more at risk of developing serious health problems caused by poor indoor air quality.
The Negative Impact of Poor Indoor Air Quality on Infants
Infants who are exposed to indoor air pollution for a long period can develop health problems. These problems can lead to poor health outcomes and may eventually cause the following:
- Neurological impairments
- Dysfunctional immune systems
- Learning disabilities
- Behavioral disorders
Parents should be aware of the sources and causes of indoor air pollution and the ways it can affect the health and development of their infants.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Common sources of indoor air pollution in homes and child care facilities include the following:
- Combustion sources (wood, coal, kerosene, gas, oil)
- Building materials
- Volatile organic compounds in paint and furnishings
- Asbestos-containing insulation
- Damp carpets
- Tobacco products
- Personal care products
- Products used in cleaning and maintenance
Other sources of indoor air pollution include poorly maintained HVAC systems and inflow of outdoor air pollution.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Although it may be impossible to eliminate all allergens from the home, parents should take steps to reduce exposure to them and improve the indoor air quality of their homes. The following strategies are ones you can take to improve indoor air quality.
When your house is clean and tidy, you can greatly improve your home’s indoor air quality. Good hygiene cuts down on dust, biological growth, and animal dander lurking in the home. Vacuum area rugs and carpets using vacuum cleaners equipped with HEPA filters.
Regularly clean drapes, bedding, and other materials that can play host to dust, mites, and other allergens. You can also use a range of products to improve your home’s indoor air quality. These products include ventilators, air purifiers, and whole-home dehumidifiers to keep indoor air clean.
Other measures for improving indoor air quality include the following:
- Change the air filters in your HVAC system.
- Keep plants outdoors.
- Allow fresh air to enter your home for ventilation.
- Stay away from synthetic fragrances that contain VOCs.
Although poor indoor air quality is harmful to everyone in the home, infants are more susceptible to their effects. Parents need to take some necessary steps to improve the indoor air quality of their homes to ensure their infants breathe safe, clean air.