According to the “Queen of Green” Debra Lynn Dadd, it is very important to filter the air in your babies room. Writing for the greenhomeguide she gives us this explanation.
The air your baby breathes in the first months of life should be as free of pollutants as possible. Babies are more vulnerable than adults to the negative health effects of indoor air pollution. Because they need more oxygen, babies breathe in two to three times more air than adults, inhaling two to three times more pollutants in relation to their body weight. And because babies suffer more frequently from respiratory illness, they often breathe through the mouth, which doesn’t filter out particles in the same way breathing through the nose does.
In general, it is better to remove sources of pollutants (such as phthalates from plastics and formaldehyde from crib sheets) than to attempt to remove pollutants from the air. But if there are pollutants in your baby’s nursery that you can’t remove or sufficiently dilute by opening a window, it makes sense to use an air cleaner—if it’s the right device.
Follow these tips to choose an air cleaner that’s right for your baby’s nursery:
1. Look for a single-room cleaning unit.
While central filtration systems, also known as “in-duct” units, can be very effective throughout the house, they will not equal a single-room air cleaner dedicated to the nursery.
2. Determine which pollutants you need to remove.
Indoor air pollutants fall into three classes:
- Gases or misty vapors of volatile chemicals such as formaldehyde, plastics, paints, pesticides and perfumes
- Particles such as bits of pollen, dust, mold and animal dander
- Microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses
If a member of your household smokes, you’ll need a filter that removes both particles and gases to protect your baby from secondhand smoke.
3. Choose an air cleaner designed to remove your chosen pollutants.
Different types of air cleaners remove different types of pollutants.
- Activated carbon cleaners remove gases or misty vapors of volatile chemicals.
- Mechanical filtration (High Efficiency Particulate Air, or HEPA) and electrostatic precipitation devices remove particles.
- A unit with a negative ion generator and activated carbon removes smoke.
- Ultraviolet light units kill bacteria and viruses.
4. Make sure the cleaner is the right size for the room.
Air cleaners remove pollutants by moving the air in the room through a chamber that holds the filter medium or device. Each unit is designed to effectively remove pollutants from the air contained in a certain amount of space. An air cleaner may be ineffective if the unit is too small for the room.
Measure your room in cubic feet (height by width by length) so that you can purchase an air cleaner with sufficient capacity. Choose a device that will process the air in the room at least once per hour.
5. Consider the frequency and ease of filter change or maintenance.
All air cleaners require some kind of maintenance. Make sure you understand what’s involved and how much it costs to replace needed elements. Maintenance could range from simply washing a reusable filter to replacing a bed of carbon that might cost $100 or more.
6. Find out how much noise the unit makes.
Quiet is supremely important in a nursery; if the air cleaner makes too much noise, you are not going to use it. Look for a unit that operates at less than 60 decibels—about the sound of normal conversation—at high speed. The best choice is a unit that operates in the range of 20 decibels, which is whisper quiet.
7. Check the fan speed.
The amount of noise an air cleaner makes is determined by the fan speed. At higher speeds, more air moves through the unit to be cleaned, but the unit also makes more noise. Fan speeds range from three speeds to six speeds to minute variable speed controls; choose a unit that will give you the degree of control you want.
8. Check the air flow rate.
The air flow rate tells you how long it takes to remove a given amount of pollutants. It is expressed in CFM (cubic feet per minute). Make sure that the CFM rating cited is with the filter installed. Some manufacturers try to make it sound like their cleaners are moving more air by quoting the CFM of air flowing freely through the fan.
9. Make note of the energy use.
A continuously operating air cleaner can use as much power as your refrigerator – 600 kWh of electricity per year! Save energy and expense by choosing an energy efficient Energy Star rated air cleaner.
10. Consider using houseplants to improve indoor air quality.
One drawback to air cleaners is that while they can remove pollutants, they don’t produce oxygen. Plants, on the other hand, both remove gaseous pollutants and produce oxygen, resulting in air that is more like natural outdoor air. A couple of plants can’t replace the cleaning capabilities of a good carbon filter, but they can do a lot to freshen relatively unpolluted air.
11. Avoid air cleaners that generate ozone.
Because of the documented negative health effects of inhaling ozone, the American Lung Association recommends against using ozone generators as air cleaners. Some other types of air cleaners also produce small amounts of ozone, especially electrostatic precipitators. Choose an air cleaner that does not produce ozone levels above 0.05 ppm, either intentionally or as a by-product of its design.
Once you have chosen the right filter for your nursery, make sure you use it properly. Place the air cleaner near a specific pollutant source, if known, and make sure the air intake and outlet are not against walls or furniture. Close all doors and windows in the room when the air cleaner is in use. And follow the manufacturer’s instructions for routine maintenance.