There are a lot of things you can do to keep your children safe. You can make sure they eat plenty of healthy food and get a lot of physical activity. You can care for them when they’re feeling sick. But how do you fight a monster that’s almost entirely invisible? We’re talking about the air they breathe.
How does air quality play a role in children’s health? What can we do to give them a safer, cleaner environment to live in?
Why Air Quality Matters for Children
Children face many of the same risks that adults do when it comes to breathing in air of poor quality. But they also have a few unique circumstances of their own.
Technically, the Trouble Starts Earlier
To be specific, the air we breathe affects our kids when they’re still in the womb. Pregnant women exposed to heavier air pollution are at an increased risk of premature birth (which happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birthweight.
The trouble continues once the baby is born.
Their Bodies Are Still Developing
When it comes to bad air quality, you might be thinking, “Kids are resilient! They can handle it.” But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. As you probably guessed, children aren’t born with fully developed lungs. In fact, the tiny air sacs in their lungs — called alveoli — which are responsible for transferring oxygen to the blood, aren’t completely grown until they are adults.
This means that children aren’t going to be able to fight the health risks of poor air quality as well as adults can.
The results can be long-lasting, too. Research has found that children who grow up in more polluted environments face a higher risk of reduced lung growth and a greater degree of respiratory symptoms.
This isn’t all, either. Because their bodies’ defenses that will ultimately help them fight off infections and illnesses also aren’t fully developed yet, should a child become sick due to low-quality air, they’re not nearly as equipped to handle it.
They Typically Spend More Time Outside
It doesn’t end there, either. Children also spend more of their time in a different environment: outdoors. This is where the air quality is truly suffering. To make matters more challenging, because they’re often more physically active, they’re breathing heavier and thus inhaling more polluted air than the average adult is, especially in relation to their total body weight.
How to Protect Children From Air Pollution
The answer might seem obvious: Just keep kids inside. But that certainly isn’t a practical approach.
First, it helps to understand what the air quality is like in your immediate area. For this, use AirNow. You can put in your zip code, city, or state, and it’ll tell you what your air quality is currently like. The higher it is, the more you’re going to want to consider moving the kids’ playtime and outside activities indoors.
Once indoors, the first thing to do is limit the impact that the outside air will have inside. While a little fresh air is good, if the outdoor breathing air isn’t safe, aim to keep the doors and windows of your home closed, even more so if you live near wildfires.
Check your HVAC system’s settings next. It should either shut out the outdoor air completely, or it should be recirculating it, at the very least, so that it never stays in the home.
Regular cleaning of your home will also keep the air quality better for your children. In particular, think of vacuuming the floors (both tile and especially carpet) on a regular basis, particularly if you have pets. Dust builds up quickly and can easily aggravate the respiratory system. Additionally, be sure to give plenty of ventilation to rooms where dampness is more common, like bathrooms and the laundry room. This will help prevent the growth of mold.
An air purifier might prove to be your strongest ally. This device will take the air you breathe, remove its contaminants — even the ones you can’t see — and make it safer for you to inhale. Be sure that you use one with HEPA 13 filtration since this is the most effective type of filter.
You certainly have plenty of options when it comes to choosing an air purifier to invest in. Sans offers four powerful layers of protection.
- The pre-filter captures larger pollutants, like dust and hair. This makes for an immediate improvement and also allows the subsequent layers to better do their jobs.
- The HEPA 13 filter is where most of the magic happens. This is a medical-grade filter that removes at least 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns and 99.95% of particles as small as 0.1 microns. (For context, the average human hair is about 90 microns.) In other words, the HEPA 13 filter packs a lot of punch and can even remove viruses, bacteria, and allergens (think pollen, dander, mold spores, and dust mites) from the air.
- The activated carbon filter removes harmful chemicals in the air in the form of gasses, like formaldehyde and other chemicals being added to the air from items like cleaning products and furniture. Additionally, if you notice any strange smells in your home, this layer will eliminate them.
- Lastly is the UV-C light, which only works on what’s inside your air purifier. At this point, your Sans has trapped all sorts of nasty pollutants. The UV-C light neutralizes them so that they can’t grow on the filters and make you sick.
While we can’t fully control the outdoor air that our children breathe, there are still steps we can take to keep them more protected from pollution overall. If you want to give your children a healthier environment, Shop with Sans today.