It is estimated that Australians spend around 90% of their time indoors, and this is especially true in the case of babies or toddlers, since most spend minimal time outdoors. The statistics indicate that indoor air quality should be a key priority for any family (especially those with babies or children). The CSIRO estimates that the cost of poor indoor air quality amounts to $12 billion per year, with indoor toxins linked to a plethora of health conditions - including skin/eye/throat irritation, hypersensitivity, headaches, and neurotoxic symptoms. Toxins such as formaldehyde, meanwhile, found in some soft furnishings, are linked to cancer, as are microscopic fibres such as asbestos. Pursuing better indoor quality can be seen as a worthwhile investment in the health and happiness, not only of your baby, but also of everyone living in your home.
Choosing Furniture For Your Baby’s Room
When selecting cribs, rockers, and other items for your baby, avoid pressed wood, since it can contain formaldehyde, which leaches into the air and can cause irritation to the eyes, throat, and respiratory system. If your baby’s room has soft furnishings such as a small sofa, footrest or other items that are filled with foam, ensure they are free of flame retardants, which leach toxic particles into the air. Opt for items made with sustainable materials such as bamboo, which is sturdy and does not require varnish. If you can, buy Greenguard-certified furniture from brands that are child friendly.
Humidity Levels And Mould
Homes that are humid and damp can be subject to toxic black mould spores, which can be difficult to differentiate from non-toxic mould. Good air quality begins by establishing healthy humidity levels (between 30% and 50% relative humidity) in your home. You can use a reasonably priced hygrometer to ensure your levels are optimal, taking steps to reduce humidity if necessary. If you suspect you may have mould, professional testing is key to ensure you do not have black mould. Small amounts of non-toxic mould, meanwhile can be cleaned with a mix of baking soda and water. Check for mould in any equipment that contains water - including air conditioning units. To stop mould growth in HVAC units, do not allow your air conditioner to remain idle for weeks on end. Clean your air conditioner every few weeks, and remove dust at least once a week.
Switching Up Your Cleaning Products
If you normally use harsh cleaning products like bleach/ammonia to clean your baby’s room, know that these can also cause irritation and health problems. There are many natural yet powerful ways to remove dirt and germs from your child’s surroundings. Thieves, for instance, is a cleaning product based on clove oil, which has antimicrobial properties. Steam vacuuming also eliminates hair, dander and germs without the need for additional cleaning products. If you do enjoy the fragrance and feel of cleaning products, then check out the plethora of eco-friendly products sold in Australia - including Euclove Stainless Steel Cleaning Spray (made with Australian blue gum eucalyptus, tea tree, menthol, and clove oils), Counter Culture Probiotic All Purpose Cleaner (which uses ‘good bacteria’ to break down dirt, grease, grime, and bad odours), and Naturally Better Oxygen Bleach (an environmentally friendly ‘bleach’ made from 100% sodium percarbonate leaves).
If you have a new baby or small children in the home, then pursuing pure indoor air quality can help safeguard their health and wellbeing. Start out by choosing safe furniture and controlling humidity levels at home. If mould is present, have it professionally tested and treated, since some moulds are toxic and can be harmful to human health. Finally, swap traditional commercial cleaning products for green ones that work efficiently without releasing toxins into your indoor environment.
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Sara is a freelance writer and editor