PSA: You Might be Poisoning Your Child with that Humidifier
I had one of the busiest springs of my life this year, and to add to the madness my son had a cold and then a cough that didn't seem to quit. I tried all of his holistic pediatrician's recommendations: Baby Vicks, nose sucker, humidifier. In the middle of the night one night my son woke my husband and I up with his coughing (a regular occurrence with this cough), and my husband said, “I wonder if his humidifier is giving him mold poisoning, you haven't cleaned it lately, right?” Great. Just what I needed to hear in the middle of the night, that I could be mold poisoning my baby! Of all the things to worry about, was his illness the result of less-than-clean air? Of course I asked Dr. Google for his thoughts, and what I found was scary!
According to LiveStrong, “Short-term and beginning stages of mold sickness can look like a basic cold or allergy attack. This is because mold acts as an irritant in small doses. Early symptoms include sneezing, itchy skin, headache, watery and itching eyes and skin irritation.”
Cool. So my kids ongoing cold could be mold poisoning. But could his humidifier have been the cause? Yes.
According to TIME, “Moist environments provide a wonderful breeding ground for mold and bacteria. If you neglect to clean your humidifier properly, it can quickly become a cozy incubator for germs—one that aerosolizes those microorganisms and mists them into the air you breathe.
Experts have also identified something they call “humidifier fever,” a form of viral lung inflammation caused by colonized humidifier bacteria.
The authors of one case study from the University of Utah discovered that an infant had developed a serious lung injury after breathing in humidifier “white dust,” or the powdery build-up of calcium, magnesium and other metal deposits that can form on the inside of the machine’s reservoir. “This case raises important questions about the safety of exposing infants and young children to humidifiers,” the authors of that study write. A 2005 government report on pediatric asthma also cautioned against the use of humidifiers.
Of course, a lot of things are harmful when used improperly. The biggest concern with humidifiers may be operator error—or the fact that most of us don’t keep our machines clean. A past report from the Environmental Protection Agency recommends washing out your humidifier every third day, but Nolen says even that guidance may be too relaxed. “I’d say at least every three days, and every day would be better,” she says.”
Had I been cleaning my son's humidifier out every day?! NO. Eeek! Am I likely to ever remember to clean my son's humidifier out daily? No. So, I went on the hunt for another solution to add moisture to the air in our home (we live in a dry climate, so I feel like this is pretty important!), while not poisoning my family. Allow me to introduce you to the Venta Airwasher.
We have been using our two Ventas, one in my sons room and one in our master bedroom, for a few weeks now, and they are welcome additions to our home. Now, my sons cough did go away prior to using the Venta in his room, but I also stopped using the humidifier. Was his cough unrelated and would it have gone away on its own? Maybe. Has his cough come back since? No.
Another couple of awesome benefits I have noticed since using the Venta. I have never had seasonal allergies before in my life, until late spring/early summer when they hit and drove me mad. BUT I haven't experienced them at all since having my Venta, except for when I've been outside of the home. Coincidence? I think not. The other benefit I've noticed? In our dry climate, I typically wake once or so a night feeling like my throat is on fire and that I need to put it out with water immediately. I haven't experienced that AT ALL when sleeping at home since having the Venta. Another perk? I like the white noise it gives off!
We recommend emptying and cleaning your Venta every 10-14 days. This involves emptying out whatever water is left in your unit at the time, as well as the old Water Treatment Additive, which does not evaporate. The bathtub or a deep sink is a great place for this bi-monthly cleaning. Simply empty your unit, rinse out the inside, add fresh Water Treatment Additive, fill it right back up and you’re good to go! When a deeper cleaning is occasionally needed, put some white vinegar and water on a cloth and use that to wipe the inside of your unit. Another option is the dishwasher: Every part of your Venta unit, with the exception of the motor, gear and cord, is dishwasher safe. Do not use detergent and make sure you use the lowest heat option available.
We've made it a part of our morning routine to fill our Venta each morning when we get out of bed, same with our sons when he gets us up. You can also see in the reservoir the bits of things the Venta has pulled into it when cleaning your air. We do not have any pets, but I can only imagine how much stuff this thing would collect if you did. I'd much rather have all of that in the Venta than in my air!
Thanks for being our new roommate, Venta!