By: Kendall Seddon
Out of a total 5.5 million deaths globally caused by exposure to polluted air, 4.3 million are due to indoor pollution. Enclosed spaces leave little opportunity for harmful particulates to escape, meaning that it can be inhaled. Gas stoves, health and beauty products, aerosol sprays and cleaners all contribute to dirty air. Young children and babies are most at risk so it is important to take steps to clean the air in your house.
Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
Despite Australians spending 90% of their time indoors, the effects of indoor air pollution are not well known. Recent studies have suggested that carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide can become concentrated, leading to an increased risk of asthma, heart disease and lung cancer.
Symptoms of inhaling polluted air include coughing, nose bleeds and fevers. If your baby is experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be linked to their exposure to dirty air. Australian homes tend to be well ventilated, with limited use of traditional cooking methods such as coal or wood. Despite this, even a small amount of pollution can be harmful to babies. They have not developed a strong immune system so extra caution should be taken.
What You Can Do
Since the inside air is dirtier than outside air, it is recommended that you give your baby as much outside time as possible. Rather than leaving your little one at home, bring them on a walk to the shop with you. This allows them to spend time breathing the fresh, outdoor air and less time spent breathing the dirty air at home.
For times when your baby is at home, take time to identify products that pollute the air. Cleaners containing bleach, chlorine or ammonia all release chemicals that are harmful when inhaled. The same goes for beauty products such as moisturisers and deodorants containing phthalates and propylene glycol. Ideally, find natural alternatives for cleaning and beauty products. Using chemical free alternatives effectively kills germs, while releasing a spray that is harmless when inhaled by a baby.
If you are using hazardous aerosol sprays or cleaners, open windows for an hour afterwards to allow the chemicals to disperse. In the bathroom and kitchen, ensure extractor fans are fully functioning.
This may be the first you’ve heard about the dangers of indoor air pollution, but health organisations have become increasingly concerned. It leads to death and disease worldwide, with women, children and babies most at risk. As a caring parent, take steps now to reduce the risk of exposure to polluted air.