Healthy Home, Healthy Children
Daily toxin exposure in children has risen dramatically in the past few decades. Children are now exposed to potentially harmful chemicals in everything from plastic wares to sunscreen to pesticides, in food to air pollution and beyond. Chemical toxins have the capability to alter growth and development in children producing potentially lower IQs, increasing risk of asthma and allergies, and increasing potential for behavioral and learning disorders.
Reducing toxic exposure in children can begin with overhauling their bedroom environment. Children spend the most amount of time in one single sitting in their bedroom during sleep, nap, and play times. Creating a healthy, clean, low-toxin producing bedroom environment can significantly reduce overall toxin exposure.
There are three main areas to review when lowering toxic exposure in the bedroom: air quality, sleep environment, and exposures to accessories and decorations (furniture, paint, toys).
The indoor home environment has higher pollutant levels than the outdoor environment. The inside of homes can become congested with toxic products without the benefit of ample space and wind flow to release and move the toxins out of the area. By reducing toxins released in homes, the air quality indoors improves.
In addition to reducing toxin-emitting products, air quality can be continually improved with implementation of high quality air filters. Air filters can reduce pet dander, molds, and dust particles, all of which accumulate toxins, as well as air contaminants such as VOCs (volatile oil compounds) from paint, and chemicals from furniture and household cleaners. Single room air filters can be placed near the bed where children breathe deeply during sleep. Whole house air filters can be attached to existing a/c and furnace units to improve deeper air purification for the entire home. Quality air filters can be purchased through http://www.air-purifiers-america.com/pages/air-purifiers-by-concern, or at the Clean, Green and Lean Healthy Living Store at Amazon.com.
New standards have been implemented in California to reduce certain flame retardant agents in bedding and furniture that have shown to be harmful to health. However, there are many current toxic agents in mattresses, pillows, and bedding that have potential to damage health.
Pillows and mattresses are an area of close contact and proximity for long periods of time during deep breathing where chemical exposure is highest. It is essential to invest in non-toxic pillows and mattresses to reduce harmful chemical exposure in children. Replace standard pillows with organic, latex pillows. These pillows are easily found at big box retail stores or online, are reasonably priced, comfortable, and longer lasting than standard pillow fillers.
Organic, non-toxic mattresses are difficult to find for a reasonable price. However, Pebble mattresses by Nook have very low toxicity and toxin exposure, are reasonably priced and very comfortable. Pebble crib, twin, and full mattresses are an exceptional option for reducing bedroom toxicity exposure.
Children’s bedrooms serve as storage areas for toys and games and need frequent cleaning with sanitizing agents. Toys that are made of plastics can ‘off-gas’ harmful chemicals into the air, reducing air quality. By purchasing wood toys decorated with non-toxic paint, off-gassing is limited. There are many great toy makers on websites such as Etsy that create handmade, non-toxic toys.
Similarly, painting bedrooms and furniture with no-VOC paint (which can be found at any home improvement store) can significantly reduce off-gassing of VOCs into the air. Buying natural wood furniture from companies such as Whimsy Woods treated with low toxicity stains or paints, or simply treated with beeswax-based wood tints reduces chemical exposure and improves air quality. Then, use natural cleansers that use essential oils as the sanitizing agent such as Better Life, ECOS, or Seventh Generation products.
Use the following checklist to review your child’s bedroom environment to ensure you are reducing toxic exposure and providing an optimally healthy growing environment:
- Organic bedding
- Natural latex pillows
- Mattress made without flame retardants
- Wood toys
- Absence of electronics
- Natural cleaning agents
- Air filter
- No-VOC paint
- Natural wood furniture
For more information, visit any number of websites dedicated to natural children’s health and wellness such as Wellnessmama.com, Mightynest.com, or DrGreene.com.
Dr. Shannon Sinsheimer is state licensed naturopathic doctor with a focus on fertility, family wellness, and pre-conception health. She can be reached at Optimal Health Center (760) 568.2598.