Monday, May 17, 2010

The value of an open window

Kids generally are smaller than adults, right? Just want to make sure we're on the same page here. That said, it only makes sense that children who are exposed to any type of pollution, indoor or out, tend to be more susceptible to the harmful effects of it. The reason is directly related to their body weight; the smaller they are, the more at risk they are for exposure and effects of pollution.

Proportionately, kids eat and drink more per pound than adults do. They also breathe in more. Which is why any type of chemicals in their food or beverages and any type of pollution in the air they breathe has a greater affect on them. Their shortness of stature has an affect as well. After all, the closer they are to the ground, the more car emissions they breathe in when walking along the road. Had you ever even given that any thought?

And then there are the little ones with oral fixations, who put anything and everything in their mouths! It's a good thing their little bodies have the means to fight off some of these germs. Just think about the floors some of the crawlers out there shimmy across. Then the fingers or thumb goes into the mouth and BAM! Germs are having a your baby's expense! That's where their superior immune systems kick in.

But immature immune systems can only go so far to protect your kids from the pollution all around them. Environmental toxins affect children more than they do adults because their little bodies are not able to metabolize and get rid of these foreign invaders as well as adult bodies can. The absorption rate is quicker in children as well. And their systems simply cannot provide enough protection from these toxins. As a result, developmental problems often arise, affecting them physically as well as psychologically.

While the results may not be seen immediately, as the years pass, the damage done early on will inevitably manifest itself.

That's why it's so important to limit the amount of environmental toxins your children are exposed to. While there might not be much you can do about outdoor pollution, you can control the amount of indoor pollution in your home.

Open the windows
In our efforts to conserve energy, we've worked hard to make our homes airtight. This may be beneficial to the wallet, but not to our health and the health of our children. I know some people who never open a window in their homes. They go from running the furnace to running the AC without so much a day to air out the home in between. Of course, they're not concerned about conserving energy or giving their homes a chance to breathe. The reality is, this is a really bad idea. I remember growing up in a house where my mother opened the windows of the bedrooms at least weekly for a few hours, even in the dead of winter. Of course, with an asbestos plant a block and a half away, this might not have been such a good idea, but at least indoor pollutants weren't going to get us!

If your children are in daycare, try to find one that is not in an airtight, sealed windows building. Ask how often the windows are opened. And make sure you check to see if the buildings been tested and treated for radon.

Choose wisely when remodeling
Research environmentally friendly options when it comes to flooring, carpeting, paneling, cabinets, paints, etc. They may require a larger amount of money initially, but the health benefits will pay off in the long run.

Whenever you do any remodeling, load up on toxin eating plants. Check out A Little Greenery goes a Long Way for more information on this.

Furnace filters
Again, you want to do some research here. Look for ones that will filter out the most indoor pollutants as possible and make sure to change or clean the filters as needed.

Monitor humidity levels
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are necessary in most homes. Keeping the humidity at the right level provides a myriad of benefits.

Choose your cleaning products wisely
Perhaps this is the greatest source of indoor toxins -- chemically-laden cleaning supplies! Don't be fooled by names, either. Just because it uses the word 'green' in its name, doesn't mean it's a healthy choice. If you haven't checked out Vinegar Fridays here on the blog, I invite you to do so. Using common household products like distilled white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice can go a long way in cutting down the environmental toxins in your home.

Watch what you're putting on your pets
If you use flea collars on your cats and dogs, I urge you to throw them away. Every time you touch one of these collars, you need to seriously wash your hands!! But does you toddler do that every time he pets Fido or grabs Fluffy by the collar. Hand on flea collar, fingers in mouth....You get the picture.

Same goes for the products you bathe your pets in. Before you use something, ask yourself if it would be safe for your child to suck on. Ewww.

Obviously, I could go on and on. But here's where common sense just has to kick in. Parents need to think about the safety of their children. And that doesn't just mean installing drawer and cabinet locks and putting up some gates. It is natural for little ones to put their hands in their mouths....just make sure what they touch is natural as well.

Keeping it green and healthy,


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