Most parents have experienced spending sleepless nights caring for their babies’ cold, cough, skin rash or vomiting. But few of them are aware that the source of their troubles could be the air surrounding their little ones. Actually, the air pollution inside your home can be up to five times worse than outside. The air quality at home does have an impact on infants’ health, especially during the first year.
People spend as much as 90% of their time in confined environments, especially at home, and the concentrations of some air pollutants may be two- to five-fold higher indoors than outdoors. — M. Helin
Several studies have established a correlation between indoor air pollution and various symptoms such as inflammation of the eyes, nose and throat, skin irritation and hives, coughing, wheezing, nausea and fatigues. An extended exposure to indoor air pollutants can cause long-term health issues such as allergies, asthma, heart diseases and cancer. And while our (adult) bodies can somehow accommodate, babies and children’s ones can’t. Their immature respiratory system and metabolism make them more vulnerable to these harms, particularly asthma. In 2015, 1 in 12 children in the US (being 6 million children) were affected by asthma according to AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America). What if these symptoms could be avoided or relieved by monitoring and improving the air quality at home?
Indoor air pollutants, the hidden dangers in your baby room
Pollution of the indoor air is caused by two main pollutants: biological agents and air chemical pollutants.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
(VOCs) are compounds that vaporize (become a gas) at room temperature. They are emitted from various sources including house cleaning products, building materials, furniture, carpets, scented candles, personal care products (cosmetics, perfume), combustion sources (cooking, cigarettes)...etc.
And, surprisingly, baby products and furniture are no exception. While you honestly think that remodeling the room (painting the walls, buying new furniture…) is the best thing to do to ensure your baby’s comfort, it is, in fact, the exact opposite. This is when the concentration of VOCs is the most important. And because your purchase furniture that are ‘for babies’, you may think they are safe. Well, they may not be as several studies proved it: baby crib mattresses, cribs and changing tables do emit VOCs.
Several studies showed that children being exposed to Formaldehyde, one of the most commonly used VOC, have higher risks to get asthma. A ECRP report stated that 16% of children in homes with formaldehyde levels less than 16 ppb had diagnosed asthma, while 44% had asthma in homes with indoor formaldehyde concentrations greater than 40 ppb. An INSERM study also concluded that for each 10 ug/m3 increase in formaldehyde concentration, the risk of asthma is increased by 17% — meaning a micro increase of the VOC causes the harm to skyrocket.
- Dust Mites — The mites’ dried body parts and excrement are known pollutants and allergens. Broken down into small fragments, they become airborne when dust is disturbed, thus being inhaled. Dust mites are found in textiles, mattresses, beddings, carpets, and cuddly toys making it easy for babies to breathe them in.
- Animal Dander — Pet dander is a common allergen that triggers asthma and eye irritation. It can be found in beds, carpets, sofa… anywhere our cats and dogs love to visit.
- Mold — Fungi release airborne spores that cause a number of adverse health effects including diseases and allergies.
Effects of temperature and humidity on air pollution
These air pollutants are sensitive to the increase in temperature and humidity levels. An ASHRAE study shows that the concentration of formaldehyde doubled when the temperature from 14°C to 35°C and when the humidity was increased from 30% to 70%. Simply drying clothes in a room for one to a few hours causes the level of formaldehyde to increase. Biological pollutants (dust mites, mold and bacteria) grow also in great numbers in a relative humid and warm environment.
How to deal with polluted air indoors?
Monitoring air quality at home
Seeing how dangerous can be indoor air pollution, it is necessary to check air quality at home on a regular basis. As the degree of harm depends on the concentration of VOCs as well as temperature and humidity levels, it is important to be able to detect precisely these pollutants anytime and, above all, on time, before they present a real danger for our loved ones.
- VOCs — Should be as low as possible. The World Health Organization recommends a concentration of 0.1 mg/m3 for the formaldehyde.
- Temperature — Should be maintained around 18°C or 19°C to ensure your baby’s comfort while avoiding the growth of mold, dust mites and the increase of gas.
- Humidity — Should not exceed 60% and may be adapted depending on your location’s climate and the occupant’s health conditions.
This is why adding sensors to your shopping list for baby accessories before your baby arrives may be a good, not to say crucial, idea.
Taking actions to improve indoor air quality
Improving the air quality at home can be done rather easily by simple and regular actions:
- Ventilate the room — simply open the windows at least 10 min a day whatever the temperature may be. If your home has a ventilation system, make sure it is cleaned and maintained regularly to avoid mold and bacteria.
- Check the furniture — Before purchasing a baby crib or other, ask about the formaldehyde emissions and avoid products with components made of composite wood.
- Place pollution-absorbing plants — Spider plants, Boston ferns, dwarf date palms, or peace lilies are known to purify the air.
- Prevent humidity — Place dehumidifying products in the room or use regularly a dehumidifier.
Even with these solutions, there’s still one thing to know: whether our furniture emits VOCs and when (or remember) to ventilate. Thankfully, some smart solutions can help you monitor the air quality and get things done before it is too late. That was the idea behind the development of your new MicroBot, Sense, the smart multi-sensor.
Our solution: MicroBot Sense
MicroBot Sense is a tiny smart sensor that measures different atmospheric variables including VOCs, CO2, temperature, humidity, air pressure, luminosity, noise and movement. It helps ensure the well-being and safety of your family on a daily basis easily so that you can focus on parenting.
A comprehensive solution
MicroBot Sense includes several sensors to control the indoor air quality at home: TVOCs, CO2, temperature and humidity. There is no need to purchase multiple devices (thermometers, hygrometers) or sensors, Sense collects all the information you need and you can easily review the data in the MicroBot Sense app or by pressing the Sense’s capacitive button. And if your hands are busy with your baby, you can ask your voice assistant (Alexa, Google Home) to read the data for you.
MicroBot Sense is a very tiny and light device that can be easily and discreetly affixed to any wall or furniture in your baby room. Because air quality should be checked wherever you and your baby are, Sense can be taken with you anywhere so that you can effectively monitor the air quality in the car, at the grandparents’ home or at the day-care facility.
How to make sure actions against air pollution is taken on time to limit the exposure? It is to answer this concern that we developed the smart alert feature. With this feature, receive Push notifications when the VOCs are above a level that you’ve set or when any air condition presents a danger to your baby. You can also get some recommendations to improve the well-being of your loved ones. And the more Sense is used the more accurate the advice is. Thus, you are sure to remember checking the air quality and you can take the necessary actions before any harm is caused.
And, as always, our Support team is always happy to answer any questions you may have. Do not hesitate to contact them if you need anything!