Good Health Depends on a Safe and Healthy Home
By Kathy Attar, Engagement Manager, Eco-Healthy Child Care®
June is Healthy Homes month! Good health depends on having homes that are free from physical and environmental hazards. For home-based child care providers, ensuring your home is safe and healthy is of the utmost importance.
Building materials, furnishings, poor maintenance, and occupant activities can add chemicals and particles that build up inside of home-based (and center-based) child care settings. Allowing indoor settings to remain damp can also encourage the growth of mold and mildew. All of these issues can lead to poor indoor air quality.
Poor indoor air quality is linked to acute respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, and emphysema. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution because their lungs are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults.
Poor ventilation is often found in substandard housing. Housing quality varies by social and economic circumstances. Families with fewer financial resources are more likely to experience unhealthy housing and typically less able to fix problems, contributing to disparities in health across racial and economic groups.
Because housing impacts health significantly, local, state and federal governments and organizations must work together to develop programs and policies that can improve the quality of housing. And, in addition, increase access to affordable and safe housing for black, brown and low-wealth communities.
There are actions child care providers can take today to immediately improve indoor air quality:
Ventilating a child care means bringing in fresh outdoor air into the building to dilute indoor air that contains contaminants including viruses, mold spores, house dust, and chemicals from furnishings and cleaning products.
Buildings can be ventilated naturally, by opening doors and screened windows or mechanically, by using heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that bring in outdoor air and distribute it through ducts.
Portable air cleaners can be used to supplement natural and mechanical ventilation systems in certain situations: 1) when windows can't be opened, 2) there isn’t a working HVAC system, or 3) when extreme weather conditions or poor outdoor air quality does not allow safely opening windows.
Learn more about best practices for improving your indoor air quality in our newly updated Protecting Children’s Environmental Health E-Course. The course is now available in Spanish and is approved for learning clock hours in 48 states.