Off-Gassing 101 – How to Keep Toxins Out of Your Home & Nursery

Choosing the right furniture and decorations are critical to preventing off-gassing chemicals in your new nursery

Getting ready for your new baby is exciting. You want to bring baby home to the perfect nursery and so you get to work painting the walls, laying down new carpet, and picking out furniture. When everything is all done, you take a deep breath. Inhale that new nursery smell.

That particular “new nursery smell,” is from off-gassing and it is not harmless. Here is everything you need to know about off-gassing and how you can keep your air cleaner to protect baby from all of those nasty chemicals.

What is Off-Gassing?

Off-gassing takes place when new, manufactured products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful chemicals into our homes. During the production process, products inhale gaseous chemicals. When these products are unwrapped, they exhale this gas into our homes.

What are some common culprits causing off-gassing?

A lot of our household products are emitting VOCs and other chemicals into our homes. Everything from floor to ceiling (literally) emits these toxic chemicals. Mattresses that contain synthetic materials are often offenders. Other guilty parties include carpeting, vinyl flooring, wall paint, particleboard, plywood, and insulation. Formaldehyde is used in many wood glues and finishes. This known carcinogen is off-gassing into our homes.

How does off-gassing affect me and my new baby?

What is toxic to you is even more toxic to your baby. As their body is growing and maturing, so is their immune system. Baby’s developing immune system is not as efficient at eliminating toxins. Plus, baby’s tiny body inhales more in proportion to his or her body weight. Your child has proportionally greater exposure to toxins by inhalation, meaning the effects of off-gassing are far greater for their delicate baby body.

The health effects of off-gassing include headaches, skin irritation, and damage to the liver, kidney, and the central nervous system. The long-term effects of off-gassing are more serious. Exposure to VOCs and gaseous toxins in young children is linked to asthma and even developmental disorders in young children.

What can I do to minimize my risk?

Luckily, it is very easy and affordable to protect yourself and your baby from harmful chemicals and VOCs. Here are some easy steps to take to lessen the effects of off-gassing in your nursery.

boys_clouds decals form lovely wall co

Buy used. Used products have already had the chance to off-gas their toxic chemicals. Plus, they are more affordable and environmentally friendly.

Air it out. Allow new furniture or new carpeting a few weeks outside.  If you let your furniture off-gas in the fresh air these chemicals won’t affect your in-home air quality. If the outdoors is not an option, open the windows and set up a fan to send toxic air outside.

Go Green! Add air-purifying plants to remove toxins from the air and give your space a lovely look. Here is a list of 10 plants that are safe for baby and will help to clean the air of any off-gassed chemicals. My favorite is the extremely durable snake plant. It doesn’t need much water, light or attention.

Paint wisely. Most paints are high in VOCs and may off-gas for years after the last coat has dried. Never fear: there are awesome non-toxic paint options designed for children’s spaces. My favorite is Quiet Home Paints which offers water-based, solvent-free paints. They have custom color palettes for nurseries,layrooms, and more! Or opt to skip the paint altogether and decorate with decals from The Lovely Wall Co.

Toss it. Get rid of old carpets that collect mold and other chemicals. Once your baby starts to crawl around, you don’t want them putting those nasty chemicals into their mouth. Cover hardwood floors with beautiful washable rugs and say good-bye to shampooing your carpets for good.

Shop Organic. Traditional crib mattresses are a huge source of toxins in the nursery. They are treated with flame-retardants and waterproofers that are harmful to your baby’s health. Since your baby spends a third of their life on that mattress, it is imperative that their mattress is toxin-free. SleepLily’s organic mattresses are free of these toxic chemicals. No need to off-gas and no need to worry. This is the best long-term investment you can make for your health.

These simple steps will reduce the exposure your baby has to harmful VOCs and other toxic chemicals released through off-gassing.

Happy Nesting!