Follow the ABC'S for keeping your home healthier for children
Follow a few simple steps to create a healthy, green home for children who may be more vulnerable to poor indoor air quality and other potential hazards.
Keep in mind children often come into closer contact with their environment than adults. They put their fingers in their mouths, crawl on the floor, and touch, taste and breathe things without knowing if they are harmful. Because their organs and respiratory, immune and neurological systems are still developing, children can be more sensitive to harmful substances such as certain chemicals, particles and allergens, according to the Greenguard Environmental Institute.
Dr. Alanna Levine, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP), reminds parents that allergy symptoms typically begin during childhood. In fact, the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America warns that allergies are the most frequently reported chronic condition in children, limiting activities for more than 40 percent of them.
Levine recommends following the ABC's -- Avoid, Balance and Change -- to help maintain a healthier home environment for children.
A is for Avoid: Whenever possible, avoid irritants that often trigger allergies, such as products made of feathers or down. Use hypoallergenic pillows on your child's bed, and limit exposure to perfume, talcum powder, hair spray, air fresheners, fabric softeners or other strong odors or sprays. Strong fragrances and odors may aggravate allergy symptoms, so be sure that children prone to allergies are not in the house when spraying fragrances or using strong cleaning products.
B is for Balance: Maintain a consistent balance in the home to help minimize allergens. Keep the windows shut and use central air conditioning during high-pollen seasons to help protect children from pollen particles that trees, grasses and weeds release into the air. These particles can harbor in the eyes, nose, and airways, causing allergy symptoms to flair for those allergic to pollen.
Also, give children washable, non-allergenic stuffed toys when possible, and be sure to wash the ones played with the most on a weekly basis, in hot water at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
C is for Change: Change items that are easy to neglect but are important for maintaining a healthier home, such as leaky faucets, pipes and other high moisture areas that are common places for mold growth. Don't neglect their air in the home either.
Change your whole-house furnace filter every three months, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends using a filter with a MERV rating from 7 to 13 to filter out allergens and other particles.
For those with carpet in the home, vacuum it often and thoroughly, and change the vacuum cleaner bag on a monthly basis.
For more information, visit our Indoor Air Quality Research Center.