Today’s informative article was written by health professional Marissa Oachs. Check out Marissa’s blog for more up-to-the-minute articles on parenting at A BIG thanks to Marissa for this engaging piece for families!

What Every Mother Should Know…About the Air We Breathe

By Marissa Oachs

As a health professional, healthiness has always been a priority to me. Now that I have a new baby my focus on health has really switched from my health to focusing on making my child’s life and health as healthy as possible. What I have learned over the last year as I have researched the best products for my family is that it is a very scary world. Almost all the products you buy in the store are unhealthy for you…it scares me to death and often infuriates me. WHY and HOW can industries and companies sell things to humans that they know are hurting us! When I started learning this, I knew I had to change my life and spread the word to other mothers.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called indoor air pollution one of the nation’s top environmental health concerns. The World Health Organization (WHO) is investigating this disturbing phenomenon, too. In fact, the WHO states that 40% of all buildings pose a serious threat to health because of polluted air. A cubic foot of untreated indoor air alone can contain up to 20 million particles such as pollen, dander, and smoke. Scary, I know!

Even scarier is the fact that more than 99% can’t be seen, and many particles are small enough to enter your lungs. Pollen, ash, and dust come indoors from the outside. Pets give off dander. Dust mites, feeding on decomposing skin (gross!!), thrive in mattresses. And cigarette smoke lingers. We all know smoking is bad, but second-hand smoke has been identified as a major health risk too.

And as much as we care about our children, over the years the air has hurt us women the most. There has been a dramatic increase in rates of asthma in women in the past 10 years because of our longer exposure to household chemicals. We often work closely with toxic chemicals and research has shown that our health care costs are $12.2 billion just from environmentally associated diseases!!! Has it hit home, yet?!

So…what can we do to fight these harmful air pollutants in our homes and in our children’s lungs? The good news is there are lots of things we can do! And I can honestly tell you…once you start trying to make a difference, you will notice a difference. I did…and my conscience is clear too!

Here are some quick tips:

1) Start by cleaning up that air – Look into buying an air purifier. Look for one that attacks all three types of air pollutants – microbials, gases, and particulates

2) Ventilate your home – Run the exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen, open your windows, and make sure you have a good exhaust system in place for appliances and stove. Check out The American Lung Association’s recommendations for more ideas.

3) Prevention – Be careful of the products you use.

  1. a. Use no-VOC or low-VOC paints – Paints release trace amounts of gases for months after application — even though they appear to be fully dried and the smell is gone. These gases are called VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, and can include highly toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. If painting indoors, open windows and use exhaust fans to remove gases. Do not store open paint containers indoors.
  2. Use non-toxic cleaning products – Most cleaning products on the market today can produce harmful air pollution indoors. Hair and nail products, cleaning products, art and hobby supplies and other common products can increase the levels of VOCs. Some of the VOCs in these products include substances linked to cancer, headaches, eye and throat irritation and worsened asthma.

Feel free to reach out to Marissa Oachs if you have any further questions!