Create a healthy living environment for your children
During the day, it’s a paradise for playing and romping. At night, it’s a cosy haven for sleeping and dreaming. But harmful pollutants have a nasty habit of creeping in with play rugs, rocking horses and children’s beds. To keep your little ones’ surroundings healthy, there are several things to look out for when making interior choices for the children’s bedroom. Floors, walls, furniture or toys: children’s bedrooms can harbour many harmful or toxic substances. Because a child’s fast metabolism and young immune system are highly sensitive to residential toxins, a healthy living environment is especially important in children's bedrooms. The less a material emits, the better the room’s atmosphere and the healthier the living environment. If you come across substances such as solvents, softeners, or formaldehyde, or even terpenes, PVC or phthalates, particular care is advised.
Low-emission flooring: The foundation for healthy livingIts large surface area alone means that flooring plays a key role when it comes to a healthy living environment. Even when they’re no longer toddlers, little ones spend hours playing on the floor. So, flooring must not only be resilient, but also friendly to (bare) feet and soft enough to absorb knocks and bumps. Wooden floorboards or solid timber parquet flooring industrially treated with hard wax or oil are the best choice. Cork, lino and natural rubber are also healthy alternatives.
Though thick-pile carpet or rugs are popular for children’s bedrooms, they often harbour hidden hazards – even natural fibres may have been chemically treated. Parquet and laminate flooring, too, may contain glue that seep PAHs or other harmful substances into the air. Therefore, you should always closely examine the production information and composition.
Healthy and colourful: Wall décor for children’s bedroomsThe best option for decorating children’s bedroom walls is to use mortar, filler and paint. Painting and plastering can get as colourful as you like, just be sure to use low-pollutant, water-based emulsion paint containing natural resin or go for natural colours by using silicate, casein and loam plaster. If you prefer wallpaper, choose actual paper over other materials and check that it’s produced using solvent-free printing ink. Wallpaper made of vinyl or non-wovens are best avoided as these contain PVC, which emits harmful substances into the air and inhibits the natural regulation of the indoor climate.
Safe and pollutant-free children’s furnitureFurniture often brings along unwanted baggage when moving into the children’s room: that inflatable armchair, the rubber sliding mat or plastic children’s settees rarely come without PVC. With cupboards, tables and beds made of untreated wood or solid timber – ideally bearing an eco-certificate seal – you’re on the safe side. Furniture surfaces should be treated with oil or wax only and should ideally not be painted. But that doesn’t automatically make children’s furniture boring! Natural wood staining is a pollutant-free way to add some colour. Screws and bolts along with solid fittings made of metal rather than plastic also usually indicate sound craftsmanship and higher quality.
Healthy flooring for the children’s bedroom
Carefree fun and gamesToys are also regular suspects when it comes to harmful substances. Not entirely without reason: space hoppers, building bricks, and even some stuffed toys can contain odourless pollutants that are emitted into the air. If you cannot resist toys in brightly coloured plastic, choose products made entirely of pollutant-free bioplastics. Toys containing cadmium, lead or the softener DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate) shouldn't be anywhere near the children’s bedroom. While the EU strictly regulates these substances, cheap imitations from Asia should be treated with care. In many cases, the materials not only contain harmful substances but the toys often have defects, which may lead to safety and stability issues. If you’re looking for completely healthy alternatives, toys made entirely from natural materials and bearing quality seals from testers such as Öko-Test or an organic label are your best bet.
Always follow your nose: Clean air in the children’s bedroom
Even though many toxins are odourless, you can still trust your sense of smell. If paints, floor coverings or furniture emit a strong odour, they should be kept clear of the children’s bedroom.
But besides chemical culprits, the level of dust and the air circulation in a room play a key role for a healthy living environment. Airing and heating the room properly are important here. To avoid electrosmog, it’s worth carefully considering what multimedia equipment to install, particularly in an infant’s room.
Quality at a glance: Eco and health labels
Products that have been tested for emissions can best be identified by the labels of impartial testers like the Sentinel Haus Institut or the German TÜV. Seals like the blue angel of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), the Natureplus quality seal, or the eco-Institut label indicate healthy and environmentally friendly construction materials and products. However, the sheer number of different certificates can also be confusing. If you are unsure about a seal, it’s worth checking out the institute and their testing procedures online before making a purchase. You can also check the eco-business pages to find manufacturers and retailers focussed on healthy building and living.
How do you ensure a healthy living environment in your home? Do you have any other tips to create a healthy home? We look forward to hearing your thoughts!