Home Sick: How Your Home’s Air Affects Your Child’s Health

As a parent, you only want what’s best for your children. If you’ve been noticing that your child is wheezing or coughing more lately, or if your kids are prone to colds, allergies, or asthma, it’s only natural to want to find the source. Sometimes, the underlying reason for illness hits closer to home than you might expect. Keeping clean air in our homes does more than reduce odors and make everything smell fresh and clean. Clean air can also help keep our families healthy.

Fresh air is still beneficial to your and your kids’ health and well-being, so don’t stop enjoying those outdoor activities you all love! In fact, scientists have recently discovered that air pollution doesn’t just strike the human body outdoors. In some cases, indoor air pollution may be the culprit. The air inside our homes can be polluted by everything from man-made chemicals to environmental allergens to carcinogens. Luckily, there are many things you can do as a parent to purify your home’s air and reduce your family’s risk of illness.

When it comes to cleaning up the air inside your home, it helps to start by understanding which factors can impact indoor air quality. Poor ductwork and improper ventilation can keep air from circulating properly. Smoking cigarettes or using harsh chemicals, such as certain cleaning products, indoors can have a lingering odor, trigger allergies and asthma, and possibly even cause cancer. Pets could shed allergy-causing dander or track in environmental pollens and other allergens from outdoors.

Keep Your Home Ventilated

Proper ventilation is one of the key factors to improving the air quality within your home. This isn’t something to be taken lightly. If possible, it’s strongly advised that you hire a licensed professional to evaluate your central air conditioning system and ductwork. These professionals are trained to spot any issues that might be damaging the air quality inside your home — and help you repair them.

Speaking of ventilation and ductwork, it’s important to make sure your clothes dryer vents directly outside. If you’ve recently purchased a home, don’t just assume that the ventilation is doing what it needs to be doing. Even if you’ve had your home inspected, remember that some inspectors can miss major issues. It’s always good to get a second opinion or even check for yourself to be certain that the dryer vents outside. This not only improves air quality within the home; it also helps the home stay cool while reducing fire hazards. You should also create proper venting around your dryer and any combustible appliances.

Cleaning Your Home

When it comes to reducing indoor allergens, pollutants, and smoke, try to keep your home as clean as possible.

  • Regularly change bedsheets and dust to keep allergies under control.
  • Invest in a high-quality HEPA air filter and an air purifier, to clean the air while reducing risks of environmental allergens and toxins in the home. Check out some online reviews for the most effective allergen- and smoke-reducing air purifiers.
  • Run a dehumidifier to reduce humidity and decrease your home’s risk of developing mold or mildew.
  • If it’s been more than five years since you’ve purchased a new mattress for your child’s bed, it might be time — especially if they’re complaining about comfort.

To be safe, open windows when using cleaners, solvents and chemicals. An even safer bet is to avoid harsh chemicals altogether. You could use all natural, organic cleaning products. Soothing essential oils can be used to clean and disinfect your home, reduce odors and freshen the air. Plants can be a natural way to add tranquil greenery while also cleansing the air.

When to Worry

Young children, especially infants, are at highest risk for respiratory illness. But when should you be concerned enough to take your child to the doctor? Some common warning signs for pulmonary illnesses in children include:

  • Repeated colds, especially if the child tends to catch bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Gasping or wheezing for air, or otherwise struggling to breathe
  • Inability to cough up mucus or clear infection from the body

If your child displays any of the above symptoms, it might be time to consult with your pediatrician.

We all like to believe that the air inside our homes is clean. However, the truth is clear. Science is showing that the air inside our homes might be even dirtier than the air outdoors. Luckily, there is some good news. The silver lining is that there’s something we all can do about it. As a parent, you can follow the steps listed in this article to start purifying the air in your home. In addition to reducing odors and helping you breathe easier, it will also boost your family’s health, which is the most important outcome of all.


Amanda Henderson is a mom to two wonderful, active boys and a preschool teacher. She enjoys writing in her free time and recently decided to create safechildren.info so that she would have a place to share her thoughts and favorite resources on parenting and child safety.