How to protect your child’s air quality
When school shootings, abuse or other violence take up the bulk of the news, it’s easy to miss that the very air your family breathes has a great impact on childrens’ health (even more than ours). Why? (from lung.org)
- Air pollution can affect them even before they’re born, with increased chance of pre- term birth (California study published in 2016)
- Eighty percent of a child's lungs will develop after birth, and continue development until the child becomes an adult. Air pollution increases the risk that their lungs will not reach full maturity.
- They take 2-3 times as many breaths as adults.
- According to a 2021 meta-analysis from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) has been linked with significantly increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children, particularly if exposure occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy or during early childhood,
- They spend a lot of time in schools that may have inadequate ventilation and high contaminants.
- They don’t behave like adults–they spend a lot more time outdoors with increased activity.
Protecting your child’s lungs and body from polluted air is not always easy. Masks can help, but they’re just one part of your arsenal.
Masks need to have good filtration, fit and comfort. AirPOP is a company that was founded when the children of one of the founders suffered from acute respiratory reactions to the local air pollution in China.
When choosing a device for your child, make sure to choose one that has undergone some lab testing against fine particles or is officially certified as KN95, N95, KF94, FFP2, or another regional standard. For air pollution, cloth masks and surgical masks provide minimal protection. (airpophealth.com) Here is one of the highly rated KN95 kids’ masks from their collection.
In moderate to severe air quality environments, it also comes down to monitoring your children’s whereabouts and activities. Teaching them about air quality conditions and forecasts lets them know why they are wearing a mask or doing activities indoors, and every parent knows that the “Why?” is very important!
Whether it’s walking, riding a bus or driving them in your personal car, getting your children to school can expose them to a lot of pollution. Finding less polluted routes or using a mask or HEPA filter in the car makes sense.
At school, teachers need to know the outdoor air forecast in order to plan outdoor time or alternative indoor activities. Also at school, you can inquire about whether they have an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) monitoring plan. If not, the EPA has suggestions on how to develop and implement one.
At the end of the school day, idling busses and cars (in the car pickup line) can be a problem as the vehicles queue up and wait for their passengers and the scheduled time of departure. According to the EPA, it’s a myth that busses need to remain idling to keep the cabin (inside the bus) at a comfortable temperature. There are technologies available to avoid idling and strategies to help parents and schools implement anti-idling policies.
Children love to learn. Learning eventually gives them power over their environment through the ability to make wise choices. They are also naturally fond of the earth, our natural environment, and their ability to do physical activity (read: play!), so that educating them on air quality can be done on age-appropriate levels with fun activities. Here are some sites to help:
Getting your child “on-board” with protecting their air quality will come in time, but until then, there are daily decisions that parents need to make that will impact their life and health for years to come. Don’t worry, HypoAir is here to help! Consider adding an Air Angel and HEPA filter to their bedroom to cut down on fine particulates, germs and allergens. For a whole home solution, our Whole Home Polar Ionizer and HVAC home filters protect through your HVAC system. These are low-maintenance ways to take the burden of air quality off your shoulders at home!