Every parent dreams of creating a safe and beautiful environment for their little one, but when it comes to raising healthy, happy children, sometimes only mother knows best - Mother Nature that is. Like all good mothers, good old Mama Nature has a way of knowing just what’s good for us - and dangerous chemicals, like formaldehyde for example - just don’t make the cut.
Funny enough, the experts agree. Growing numbers of researchers and medical professionals assert that chemicals left over from the manufacturing process of many common household items can aggravate existing medical conditions and even cause new and potentially dangerous health problems, especially in young children.
In other words: Everyday items found in your child’s room could be making them sick.
The Environmental Protection Agency warns that paint, new furniture, carpet, mattresses, window dressings and even toys can contain nasty toxins called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Many of these chemicals evaporate over time but, in the process, create fumes that can compromise your child’s health.
According to the EPA, fumes resulting from VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose and throat; trigger headaches, dizziness and nausea; and can even damage the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Scary stuff! (Other studies have even linked chemical off gassing to SIDS, although the connection has not been proven.)
VOCs can prove especially dangerous for children who suffer from allergies and asthma. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, exposure to VOCs can cause severe allergic reactions in children and adults with allergies, ranging from skin irritation to respiratory problems. Those suffering from asthma are particularly vulnerable. The ACAAI identifies VOCs as a significant risk factor for the condition, explaining that exposure weakens the respiratory system and can even trigger life-threatening asthma attacks.
As if the potential effects of VOC exposure were not frightening enough, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that kids may be even more susceptible to environmental hazards than adults. According to the CDC, VOCs and other indoor air pollutants pose a greater threat to infants and young children, who breathe in and absorb more chemicals in proportion to their small body size than adults. Furthermore, because children experience their environment differently than adults, exploring things with their mouths and spending much of their time on the floor, they are more likely to come into direct contact with potential hazards, exposing them to higher concentrations of chemical pollutants than adults.
While it may be impossible to completely eliminate VOCs and other hazards from your child’s environment, you can limit their exposure to them.
Organic, eco-friendly products are widely available and more stylish and affordable than ever before. Produced without the aid of chemicals, organic products have no chemical residue and do not produce dangerous fumes. By choosing organic materials for your nursery or kid’s room and your home, you can reduce chemical pollutants, improving the quality of air your family breathes - a healthy choice for both your kids and the environment.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to scrap everything in your little one’s room and start from scratch. If you are starting a new project, like baby’s first nursery, try to buy as many organic items as possible. If not, consider exchanging a few items, such as carpeting or fiberboard furnishings, and replacing the rest as needed. If your child suffers from allergies or asthma, choose naturally hypoallergenic, organic bedding and an organic mattress.
Remember, every change made is a change for the better.