Indoor air quality is important for everyone, but it’s even more important for expectant mothers. We don’t want anyone to worry, but just to be armed with the facts!
There are already so many things to avoid during pregnancy … from the obvious, such as smoking and alcohol, to the less obvious, like foods such as pineapple, sesame seeds, and even caffeine! But one thing that most people don’t consider is the potential effect of indoor air pollution during pregnancy.
Certainly, outdoor air pollution, like nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide, are not good for either a mother or a developing baby. In fact, a study done in 2010 in Los Angeles looked at birth weights of babies in more polluted areas of LA, versus cleaner-air areas of LA. On average, the babies born in more polluted areas weighed 0.7 pounds less than the babies born in the less polluted areas. Similarly, one study done at the University of York showed that fine particulate matter (from car exhaust to agricultural pollution), is the cause of up to 20% of all premature births.
So, you might be thinking, there’s definitely a link between outdoor air pollution and potential pregnancy issues. But, that’s outdoors! And the Environmental Protection Agency states, people spend 90% or more of their time indoors! But unfortunately, also according to the EPA, the air in your home can be far more polluted than outdoor air.
Why is this?
It’s because of something called sick building syndrome, in a home or other building that is not properly ventilated. Essentially, sick building syndrome means that you have pollution from outdoors getting into the building. (Again, these contaminants include car exhaust, and factory byproducts like dioxides, asbestos, lead, dust and formaldehyde.) There are lots of sources of outdoor air pollution that become your problem —indoor air pollution — when they enter your home!
However, there are also sources of indoor air pollution that are coming from inside the house! These are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a term you may be familiar with. But everything from your furniture, to your carpets, to pesticides, to hair products, to cleaning products, to the combustion from your cooking, all are examples of volatile organic compounds. AKA, indoor air pollution generated from inside your home!
Unfortunately for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, immune-compromised, or pregnant, there are many organic, synthetic, and biological contaminants inside your home. Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms like respiratory illness while pregnant, it’s a great idea to investigate your own indoor air quality:
Are you noticing home odors? Is your HVAC equipment dirty? Is there moisture on your walls? If so, your home may have a ventilation problem, and one thing you can do about that is to open your windows, run fans, and use your bathroom fan to improve ventilation.
But another smart choice is to potentially invest in an indoor air purification system, in addition to having a well-maintained HVAC system. A whole-home air purifier is specifically designed with a filter that is guaranteed to remove even smaller microscopic particles than an average air filter. Also, some whole-home air purifiers, such as the REME HALO®, use electromagnetic energy technology to magnetically attract pollutants!
Breathing clean air is important for everyone, but exposure to air pollution is especially risky during pregnancy. Although there is no way to completely avoid this exposure, clean air indoors, where you spend 90% of your time, is a fantastic start! If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about our indoor air quality solutions, contact us or give us a call at (713) 481-1305. We are proud to serve you and your family in the Greater Houston area!