Do You Need an Air Purifier in the Nursery?

Lullaby 11/25/2014

Why is the air quality in a nursery so important for babies? Babies spend up to sixteen hours a day in their nursery sleeping or resting. As you can guess, during this time they’ll be breathing in any airborne pollutants invisibly floating about. And a newly painted and furnished nursery may contain more than 300 chemicals! So, do you need an air purifier in the nursery? Read on to find out!

Pediatrician Elizabeth McLeod says, "Unborn and newborn babies are going through critical stages of development that make them uniquely vulnerable to toxic exposures. In fact, some toxic exposures may have no impact on you whatsoever, but could have lifelong implications for your child. (Consider what alcohol consumption during pregnancy can do.) In addition, especially in the first months of life, babies’ immature metabolic systems are typically less capable of dealing with toxic exposures. And, because infants have more years of life in front of them than adults, they have more time to develop chronic diseases that may be triggered by early exposures."


The very best way to protect your indoor air quality and your baby’s health is by using safer products (find tips here). But, for regular “indoor pollution control,” here are a few tips:

1. Grow non-toxic houseplants. Studies conducted by NASA and other researchers have identified many plants to clean indoor air. Harmful, common pollutants including toluene, xylene, benzene, and formaldehyde (chemicals linked to cancer and neurodevelopmental toxicity – among other things) are absorbed through the plant’s leaves and neutralized in the soil. Here are 5 non-toxic, nursery-safe plants to clean indoor airSnake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Warneck Dracaena, Boston Fern, Spider Plant, and Bamboo palm.


2. Buy an air purifier. Here's advice from Consumer Reports:

Better air purifiers do especially well at filtering pollutant particles such as dust, tobacco smoke, and pollen. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other types of gaseous pollutants, however, are another matter. Some portable models with carbon pre-filters are claimed to filter VOCs, known respiratory irritants that arise from adhesives, paints, and cleaning products. But the Environmental Protection Agency warns that such filters are specific to certain gaseous pollutants, not for others, and that no air purifiers are expected to remove all gaseous pollutants found in the typical home. Carbon filters also must be replaced often, typically every 3-6 months, or they stop working--and can even, when full, release trapped pollutants back into the air. The safer course: Heed strict product-label warnings such as "use only in well-ventilated spaces."

Air-purifier models with an electrostatic precipitator remove pollutant particles by charging them as they pass through and collecting them on an oppositely charged metal plate or filter. In the process, they produce some ozone as a byproduct. You'll also find dedicated ozone generators, which produce relatively large amounts of this gas by design. While ozone in the upper atmosphere protects us from the sun's ultraviolet rays, ground-level ozone is an irritant that can worsen asthma and compromise your ability to fight respiratory infections. We believe that air purifiers that emit even small amounts of ozone are a poor choice if someone in your household has pulmonary problems or allergy symptoms. We also suggest that you avoid dedicated ozone generators entirely, given their high ozone emissions.

How to choose

If you want a purifier and don't have a forced-air system, consider a large portable. In addition to removing more particles at high speeds, the better large models still did well at lower, quieter speeds.

Weigh features carefully. Most air purifiers have an indicator that tells you when first to clean or replace the filter to maintain efficiency. But some indicators turn on based on length of time the unit has been running, not how dirty the filter is. Skip odor-removal features. In past tests it took up to an hour for them to make a difference--when they did anything at all.

And the certifications on the box? All tell how well a model filters particles at its highest speed. The certifications all also allow up to 50 parts per billion of ozone, a respiratory irritant. We advise against using models that produce any ozone, even if they are effective cleaners.

Check an air purifier's efficiency rating

If you still want one, use this air-purifier guide to choose. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers certifies most room models as part of a voluntary program that includes appropriate room size and maximum clean-air delivery rate (CADR), a measure of cleaning speed. We judge a CADR above 350 to be excellent and below 100 to be poor. Choose a model designed for an area larger than yours for better cleaning at a lower, quieter speed. Many whole-house filters list a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The top performers in our tests typically had a MERV higher than 10.

3. Use an air-purifying paint. Our “brother” brand, ECOS Paints, makes an amazing new paint that goes beyond the idea of simply not adding harmful chemicals to the environment – it actively removes them! This revolutionary air purifier wall paint absorbs chemicals and pollutants, solvents and VOCs, down to one part per million (in lab tests) for improved air quality in your home. The special air purifier silicate ingredients in ECOS Atmosphere Purifying Paint absorbs those pollutants permanently and this air cleaner effect is not exhausted within the average redecorating schedules (typical indoor home conditions over five years). Unlike a traditional air cleaner unit, it requires no power supply, maintenance or filters, simply apply as normal wall paint and when dry, it will filter out and absorb pollutants 24 hours a day, all year round. ECOS Atmosphere Purifying Paint (APP) absorbs up to 98-99% of volatile pollutants down to approximately one part per million (gas chromatographic data in closed chamber lab conditions). Good air cleaners or air purifiers are also effective, but they need to be switched on – there is nothing to forget with our air cleaner alternative: ECOS APP. For more information click here to view Atmosphere Purifying Paint in the Store.

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or recommendations. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the issues raised here.