Indoor Air Pollution and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

pregnant woman

For most expectant parents, avoiding high-risk substances like alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy is a no-brainer. But did you know your home’s indoor air quality can affect the health of your unborn child? Here’s how your heating and cooling system can affect your indoor air quality – and when to call an HVAC service for help keeping your pregnancy healthy and safe.

When we think of air pollutants, most people think of outdoor air pollution – things like smoke, car exhaust, and building emissions. But most people spend 90% of their time indoors – much of that in their own home.

Recent research indicates air pollution can have a significant impact on expectant mothers and their unborn babies, which means a new pregnancy is a great time to check on your home’s HVAC system and air quality. Humidifiers and air purifiers can help, but the HVAC system itself is where it all starts.

Risks Associated with Poor Air Quality During Pregnancy

  • Preterm labor
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • High blood pressure and preeclampsia in the mother
  • Lung development issues

What You Can Do

Investigate your home’s air quality even if you don’t notice the air feeling stuffy or dirty. Some health effects only show up after years of exposure, so even small amounts of air pollution matter.

Check for Signs of Ventilation Problems

These include:

Improve Ventilation

If you can, try opening windows and doors often to get fresh air inside. Run window or attic fans to keep airflow consistent. Consider installing a window air conditioner and keeping the vent open.

And if you’re doing a temporary activity that can impact air quality, it’s especially important to get some airflow to clean out those pollutants. This includes activities like:

  • Painting or stripping paint
  • Welding
  • Sanding

Consider Testing Your Home for Radon

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that harm your family without you even knowing. There are inexpensive and user-friendly test kits available. Or if you’d rather, you can hire a professional to run tests for you.

Add a Portable Air Cleaner

These are separate units that filter out gases and particles from your air. Keep in mind most air cleaners either filter out particulate or gases, so if you want to eliminate both, you might need to buy two cleaners.

Switch to a Heat Pump

Unlike other heating methods, heat pumps don’t need combustion to work, which means they don’t produce harmful emissions into your home’s air. Whether this is an appropriate choice for your home depends on a few factors: your location, climate, budget, and personal preferences. Keep in mind this can be a slightly costlier repair – ranging from $700 for ductless mini-split systems to $13,000 for geothermal heat pump systems.

Protecting your unborn child from health hazards during pregnancy is a priority for most parents. By taking a few measures, you can help set up your child for a happy, healthy start to their life.

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