Spending hours shopping online for the perfect furniture, bedding and decorations to set up your baby’s nursery is one of the most exciting activities for mums-to-be. But did you know that indoor air quality is one of the greatest pollution threat for your baby? Don’t worry, Mirela Orlovic, founder of the great green lifestyle online blog Urban Meisters share with you 10 tips to help you set up a pollution-free room for your baby!
1. Start earlier than you thought
If you are setting up a baby room from scratch don’t waste time just looking up baby room ideas. Choose certain things like paint colour and key furniture like crib really early. Because paints even when VOC-free contain irritants, start with painting and then ventilate the room for several days. Wait before installing new carpeting and other textiles, because they can absorb chemicals from the paint and re-release them into the air over time.
2. Unpack outdoors!
Choose key furniture pieces way in advance, so that you can unpack it outdoors and let it sit for at least one week to air out. Then keep your windows open for a couple of weeks, if possible. Ideally check for pollution free or low pollution days. If you are simply adding new furniture to your kids room, then again follow the same tip. Let the furniture air outside and only when you are ready to move it in, change the old furniture.
3. Snap your fingers & make pressed-wood furniture vanish!
Avoid pressed wood and wood composite materials to avoid VOCs. VOCs like formaldehyde are hidden in the strong glues that are used by the manufacturers. (Formaldehyde was recently classified a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization.) And according to the American Lung Association, short-term effects of exposure to formaldehyde vapors include eye, nose and throat irritation as well as coughing, skin rashes, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and nosebleeds.
In 2010, IKEA took the pledge to remove flame retardants from its furniture. Flame retardants are carcinogenics that can easily be absorbed by our skin. Besides this, go for all wood furniture as much as possible.
4. Privilege sustainable manufacturing
A good alternative is sustainable furniture. I personally recommend the brand ‘oeuf’. The brand exists since 2002 founded by as they call it a “French/American husband and wife team”. Oeuf offers clothing, furniture, bedding and more. The brand uses natural, renewable and recyclable materials and eco-conscious manufacturing processes. Their design is just too cute and heartbreaking. All what they create and manufacture is done with the objective to make it with quality and last from generation to generation.
5. Abracadabra! Re-use, Re-build, buy vintage or Upcycle
For furniture and even decor pieces which you do not need any particular safety features, it’s best to re-use old furniture pieces or buy vintage. But again caution: if you are refurbishing anything vintage and painting it or gluing it, do it outdoors if possible.
6. Playtime made safe
Stock your little one’s room with non-toxic, chemical free toys. Especially with infants, they have a habit of putting everything in their mouth. The majority of plastic toy manufacturers use a lethal vinyl called PVC in toys. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the deadliest plastic produced today. It is typically mixed with another noxious chemical, phthalate, to make the finished plaything flexible rather than rigid.
So look up sites that offer traditional materials like bamboo, tree resins and wooden toys and even daily use products, like this store.
7. Bedtime stories
Before you think of sticking phosphorescent stars on the ceilings or musical lights, pay all your attention to the mattress when designing up your kids room. Most mattresses contain considerable amounts of synthetic and chemical-based foams, plastics and artificial fibers, and most box springs are made with chemically treated wood and chemical adhesives. Choose a mattress made from more health-conscious materials, such as natural fibers and untreated wood. And read away all those magic tales and fairy stories knowing your child is safe, sound and happily asleep.
8. The magic words: no-odor, non-toxic and no-VOC
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) – are the second biggest cause of indoor air pollution. These chemicals evaporate easily at room temperature and have various possible short- and long-term effects. The extent and nature of the health effect will depend on the level of exposure to VOCs and length of time exposed. Some examples are eye, nose and throat irritation, frequent headaches, nausea, until more serious stuff like damaging of the liver, kidney and central nervous system and even cancer. Read more on VOCs here.
While the paint is drying, VOC levels can be up to 1,000 times outdoor levels, and VOCs will continue to off-gas at much lower levels after the paint dries. When shopping for paint, look for one that contains VOC levels of 150 grams per liter or lower. Choose paints, stains, thinners and waxes no-odor, non-toxic and no-VOC that are made primarily from naturally-derived raw materials. Also go for no- or low VOC glue. If painting furniture etc, do not do the work inside your home, but in a garage and let it sit for a couple of days to air out.
9. Be a couch detective
This is the advice from our friends from Moms Clean Air Force that I met during the COP21. Actually, researchers from Duke University and UC Berkeley found 85% of couch cushion contain toxic or untested flame retardants. 41% of the samples they tested were found to contain chlorinated Tris, a carcinogenic flame retardant.
10. The invisible carpet
Did you know that carpeting in your kids room can be the other cause of indoor pollution? Our advise…use as little carpeting as possible in your kids room. The American Lung Association says new carpet — as well as the adhesives and padding used during installation — can be a source of VOC emissions and act as a “sponge” for chemical and biological pollutants.
So our advice would be to leave your shoes at the door and opt for natural flooring such as sustainably harvested hardwood, bamboo, cork or tile, and no-emission carpeting of natural fibers such as sisal or wool.
If your baby is beginning to crawl, go for sustainable rubber mats instead which can be removed and put on floor easily. These are commonly used in gyms.
Thank you Mirela Orlovic for these great tips! Follow Urban Meisters on their Facebook page.