Building a Healthy Nursery Environment – A step at a time
Since World War II at least 75,000 new synthetic chemical compounds have been developed and released into the environment; fewer than half of these have been tested for the potential toxicity to humans, and still less have been assessed for their particular toxicity to children. (www.simplepureclean.com)
As parents our only desire is to provide a healthy, safe and secure environment for our children. We may not be able to provide a 100% chemical free environment, however, with a little care, a lot of reading labels and an awareness of what we are putting into children’s spaces, we can offer them a healthier future.
|Task||Natural or ‘green’ products||Exposure type||Exposure Burden||Notes|
|Repainting||Use low VOC (if you can smell it is not good for you)||Off gassing||Low||ventilate area when using|
|Floor or wall coverings||Low VOC paint
|Keep area well ventilated if applying paint|
|Cribs, Cribs, dressers, etc.||Solid wood or used
|Off gassing in used furniture should already be finished||None|
|Mattresses, crib bumpers||Unbleached Cotton or fabric w/padding|
|Toys||Cloth, wood, non-plastic materials|
Building a Healthy Nursery Environment – Checklist
- Remove furniture to another area or cover to protect from dust and debris
- Open windows and doors for increased ventilation
- Sweep or vacuum and dispose of all debris
- Wipe down all surfaces with clean damp cloth
- Cleaning Products – Read all labels carefully
- Do not mix and match different products you may end up producing a more toxic brew
- Lemon juice or baking soda are a natural addition to your bucket of water
- White vinegar is also a natural cleanser and can be used in this application as well as laundry
Wall and ceiling applications
- Primer, paints and stains should be no or low VOC.
- Remember if you can smell it, it includes VOCs. Also, the darker the color more VOC’s are needed to pigment the paint.
- Check for existing lead based paint on surfaces before sanding or scraping
- Continue to keep good ventilation in the area when applying these products.
- Wood floors are the easiest to keep clean and do not hold dust or debris for posterity
- If carpeting is desired, look for natural woven fibers, recycled plastic carpet, or area rugs that can be taken away and cleaned.
Crib, Chests, Drawers, Shelving and Mattresses
- New pieces should be solid wood products, not fiberboard, chipboard or particleboard.
- New pieces made of fiberboard or chipboard can be mitigated by ensuring that all exposed surfaces are encapsulated by a low VOC paint or sealer. (remember the holes for pegs and adjustments, a minimum of 3 coats are necessary).
- Used pieces several years old, acquired at a consignment shop, shared by a friend or found at a garage sale, have typically already off gassed.
Linens and other fabrics
- Natural fiber linens and clothing not chemically treated for fire, wrinkle or stain resistance. (linen, hemp, silk wool, cotton)
- Federal law requires treatment of clothing for toddlers to be fire resistant. This means chemical treatment. To lessen the off gassing of these products, you should wash them before their first use. It usually takes 4-5 washings with a non-phosphorus soap to break down these chemicals.
- Purchasing items from consignment or other similar shops, used and reused have already off gassed.
Toys and Trinkets
- The plastic toys having ‘softness’ and ‘flexibility’ contain phthalates. Read labels.
- Alternatives to plastic would be toys stuffed with natural fibers, and wooden toys .
- Pacifiers, nipples, plastic bottles and bags, if used should not be heated over flame or in a microwave. The plastic will breakdown and leach into the liquid being heated. Liquids should be warmed before filling containers.