GRAND Magazine - February 2009 - (Page 22)

The healthy crib By MiChelle BriseñO-TuCker VOCs—“that new carpet smell”—are dangerous in the nursery P reparing a speCial nursery for a new grandbaby is exciting. However, in our eagerness, we may create a toxic haven if our new purchases emit toxic airborne chemical pollutants known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—what are sometimes casually identified as “that new carpet smell” or “weird chemical odor” that burns our eyes and dizzies our senses. But, beware: There’s nothing casual about the dangers VOCs may pose in the nursery. VOCs include a wide range of hazardous substances such as formaldehyde, methane and benzene that evaporate or off-gas at room temperature from everyday objects: interior wall paint, carpeting, fabric window treatments, bedding, upholstered items and pillows, PVC vinyl plastic-covered mattress and changing table pads, and furniture. VOCs foul the indoor air quality of our homes—air the baby will be breathing. According to the EPA, indoor air concentrations of VOCs can be 10 times higher than levels found in ambient air. High indoor VOC levels place our grandchildren’s health at risk. chemical exposures. Research shows that the cumulative effects of exposures to low doses of certain chemicals may cause significant adverse health effects. Specifically, VOCs can cause short-term and long-term health problems including headaches, dizziness, nausea, respiratory problems—including nose, throat and lung irritation—damage to liver, kidney, immune system and central nervous system, eye irritation, fatigue and allergic reactions. Some VOCs are considered to be human carcinogens. What’s a grand to do? If we’re on a budget or if we’ve already set up the nursery, we need to prioritize the necessary changes, beginning with the item that contains the greatest potential exposure of VOCs: the crib. is baby’s crib a hotbed of toxins? Although cheaper, avoid cribs constructed from or that contain in part any pressed wood materials, such as particleboard. Pressed wood is notorious for off-gassing VOCs, in particular formaldehyde. According to the National Cancer Institute, exposure to formaldehyde can cause “watery eyes; burning sensations of the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation.” Formaldehyde has been What’s the risk? Due to their developing organ systems, low body weights relative to those of adults, and highly permeable skin, infants and children are vulnerable to toxic 22 GRAND FEBRUARY 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - February 2009

GRAND Magazine - February 2009
GRAND View
Contents
GRAND Central
On the Cover: Susan L. Taylor, One in a Million
Get a Job!
The Healthy Crib
Movin’ to the G’Kids
Closing In
10 Disney Secrets
Ask GRAND
Just the Family We Are
Grand Prix: 0-3
Left Behind
Cycle Safe
Resources
GRAND Finale

GRAND Magazine - February 2009

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