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Think You’re Ready for Baby? Think Again!

Posted on January 27, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse
Baby nursery
Photo by GuruAnt via Flickr Creative commons

We talk a lot here on the AirTek blog about indoor air pollution and the chemicals and other contaminants that enter homes and offices, only to stay there and build up in amounts dangerous enough to affect your health.

But the most vulnerable to the pollutants in our indoor air are infants and children.

Infants breathe much faster than older children and adults and so have the highest potential exposure to contaminants in their environment. They also have the most rapidly developing nervous systems and so are more at risk for lifelong damage by dangerous substances like lead dust.

If you’ve ever decorated a baby nursery for an imminent arrival, you know the pride in a bright, beautiful room full of new furniture, happy colors and perfectly clean surfaces. But some of those things can actually be more of a danger to your new baby than dirt or germs.

Good Morning America logo

Good Morning America” decided to carry out an experiment based on this premise. They put together a baby nursery with brand-new crib, changing table, rocker, and other decorations, waited seven days and then tested the air. Their results were shocking!

300 chemicals were found in the nursery air. Only two of those chemicals were found in the outside air at the house. The rocker was giving off 7 times the California recommended limit of formaldehyde. The paint on the walls off-gassed 5 times the recommended limit of volatile organic compounds.

The worst offender was the crib mattress, which exuded over 100 different chemical compounds. Now, I know many babies don’t sleep well, but is that what you want them breathing when they do?

GMA recommends some ways of reducing the level of indoor air pollution in your baby’s nursery and I concur:

Buy products certified to have low emissions. You can also look for a “Green Label Plus” on carpeting.

Unscented if possible. If a product offers an unscented version, make that your choice.

Choose solid wood. More expensive, solid wood does not give off the gases of pressed wood products.

Unbox outside. When your beautiful new furniture is delivered, unwrap it outside and leave it out there for a week or so to let the gases dissipate before you bring it into the nursery.

Paint early and with the windows open. You want to let the volatile organic compounds in paint come out and proceed to the outdoors before bringing any furniture, carpets or other textiles in. Anything porous can absorb the chemicals and keep them in your environment.

Hand-me-downs. You know that crib your sister-in-law offered? In terms of air pollution, it is a much better choice than a new crib unless it has been recently refinished.

Of course we all want our babies to come home to a beautiful room that suits our taste and lifestyle, but as lovely as it is to look at, consider the invisible but very real dangers that come with redecorating.

AirTek is committed to cleaner indoor air in the homes, offices and workplaces of California. If you need help cleaning contaminants out of your indoor air or maintaining proper ventilation in your building, please contact us!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

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