3 Easy Steps For A Greener Baby Nursery
A 2012 article by ABC News found 300 chemicals in the air of a newly decorated baby nursery. And today we know that children’s rapidly growing bodies are uniquely susceptible to the potentially harmful effects of these chemicals.
Here are three simple ways to limit chemicals and design a greener nursery for baby:
1) Choose Greener Bedding
That same ABC News report referenced above found more than 100 chemicals emitted from the crib mattress alone. To go greener, avoid crib mattresses made with polyurethane foams and PVC-based vinyl coverings. Instead, look for natural filling materials like organic cotton, coconut husks or coir, natural latex or steel innersprings. Wool padding is generally used to achieve fire resistance without the use of harmful chemical additives. If you are concerned about possible latex or wool allergies, consider a Greenguard-certified crib mattress, which is tested to ensure better indoor air quality.
Cotton crops use more pesticides per year than any other crop, and more chemicals may be added during the textile manufacturing process. For example, a recent report by the Washington Toxics Coalition found more than 200 children’s bedding items that contained toxic chemicals. Look for Oeko-Tex- or GOTS-certified crib bedding to ensure the textiles used are organically grown and contain a minimum of harmful chemicals. Avoid permanent-press and wrinkle-free sheeting, where formaldehyde is often added.
2) Use Zero-VOC Paints
Because VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) include such a broad group of chemicals, their health effects are varied. Acute symptoms of exposure can include eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; and nausea. Certain VOCs can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system, while others have been linked to childhood leukemia, reproductive and developmental problems, birth defects, and endocrine disruption. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. Since paint covers 70% or more of our interior spaces, it’s a significant and comparatively inexpensive way to go green.
3) Banish Vinyl Products
Most ‘vinyl’ products are made from PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, the manufacture and disposal of which can release harmful dioxins. According to the World Health Organization, dioxins are “highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.” Because PVC is a rigid plastic, phthalates and/or lead are added to make it soft and pliable. Phthalates are hormone disruptors that can shed from plastic products into household dust. Lead can cause irreversible damage to the brain.
In the nursery, PVC is most commonly found in crib mattress covers and waterproof pads; changing pad covers; children’s toys; upholstery; drapery blackout liners; and as carpet backing. Polyethylene is a safer synthetic option to vinyl; wool is a natural water-resistant alternative.
Try these easy steps and you’ll feel great knowing that baby’s nursery is one with fewer harmful chemicals and – hopefully – safer air to breathe.
Engineer-turned-interior designer, Trina Masepohl, is the founder and President of MIXX Modern Interiors, Inc. (www.mixxmodern.com). As a mom, Trina understands that while many parents want to go green, few know how or where to begin. She developed MIXX Modern Interiors’ ezGreen Design Plans to make green design for baby accessible, fun and affordable.