Because indoor air moves far less than outdoor air, it can be five times as polluted as outdoor air. While we might believe that our biggest exposure to pollutant is outside, where we can often physically see the pollution, those contaminants are most potent when they get into our homes, either through windows or through an unfiltered or malfunctioning HVAC system. Most people spend the majority of their time inside. Even if your children spend a huge portion of their day outside, they still sleep inside for at least eight hours, ensuring that they are breathing indoor air for at least a third of every day.
The place that we often consider the safest place in our lives and certainly in our children’s lives, can paradoxically be the most dangerous when it comes to air quality. But what makes indoor air quality so poor?
The chemicals that we use every day to clean our homes can actually have an adverse effect on children, who are more susceptible to irritation from hazardous chemicals. Even just spraying down the bathroom and allowing the fumes to waft throughout the house can be dangerous. This is not, however, the only source of chemical fumes in a house. Furnishings, office products, and even the materials used to build your home can gas volatile organic compounds which can be dangerous or, at the very least, irritating if breathed in.
Mold spores are surprisingly common. Outdoors, they are sufficiently diluted so that breathing them in will not harm a young child. However, indoor, especially in a home or building where mold has started a colony and has been allowed to proliferate, the concentration of mold spores can be much higher and therefore, more dangerous.
Dirt and dust that is tracked inside, in addition to the particulates that your building materials or other products might release into your home. Any of these particles can be irritating, especially to a child who has respiratory issues. Even the cleanest homes will collect dust and other similar particles.
But why is indoor air quality so important to young children? Here are just a few of the many reasons:
Children spend a lot of their day inside
Most homes, schools, and public buildings will be affected by at least one of these three things. Because most children spend most of their day in at least one of these types of buildings, they are exposed to lots of indoor pollution. Think about how much of your day you spend inside—children likely spend at least that much time indoors and if the buildings they spend their time in have poor air quality, it can start to take a real effect on your children.
Poor air quality has a number of side effects
Some of the most common effects of poor indoor air quality include headaches, difficult concentrating, fatigue, dizziness, and inflammation of your mucus tissue. If your children seem to be sick all the time or if they leave the house feeling perfectly fine by come home feeling sick, it could be due to poor indoor air quality in the buildings where they are spending their days.
While none of these issues may seem that severe, over time, children can begin to develop respiratory problems related to the poor air that they have been breathing all day or night.
Poor air quality is especially bad for children who already have a respiratory condition
If your child has asthma, for example, poor indoor air quality can make that asthma much worse. Even if your child only has allergies, they might be entering a building where those allergens are significantly concentrated, ensuring that they will have an allergic reaction.
Better air quality prevents more serious issues
For example, if you have a well-functioning HVAC system that routinely cycles the air in your home or building, you are at far less danger for carbon monoxide poisoning, which is far more common in young children than it is in adults.
Better overall air quality and a system that is designed to improve the air quality can prevent real tragedy from happening. Issues like carbon monoxide and gas leaks can be much less damaging when the building has great air quality to begin with.
Indoor air quality is one of the top five risks to public health
Most people probably do not think about the quality of the air they breathe very often, but studies by the EPA have found that it is one of the biggest dangers to public health. It is the foundation of a healthy environment, especially for children. Poor indoor air quality has far-reaching and negative effects that are the most dangerous to children.
Indoor air quality is important not just to adults, but to children, too. Because most children spend the majority of their day inside, it is imperative to find a way to improve the quality of the air that they breathe, to ensure that they are not experiencing the negative effects that come from indoor pollution.