Feeling unsure about what materials are safest to use for your nursery or child’s room? Follow these steps to create a room that is healthy for everyone in the family!

1. Remodeling?  Be very careful with old lead paint.

If your home was built before 1980, it’s likely to contain lead paint. Don’t do the remodeling yourself, but hire a contractor certified in lead abatement. A list of certified contractors in Washington is available here; in other states, call EPA at 1-800-424-LEAD. Learn more in our fact sheet Reducing Exposure to Lead in Older Homes.

2. Choose zero-VOC or low-VOC latex paints and stains.

Zero-VOC or low-VOC latex (water-based) paints and stains are the healthiest choice for any room in your home. Many brands are available, including Best Paints, Safecoat, and BioShield. Read the EPA brochure Healthy Indoor Painting Practices before you start painting.

3. New flooring?  Avoid carpet if possible.

Solid wood, bamboo, cork, and linoleum (such as MarmoleumTM) are the healthiest flooring choices. If glues or finishes are required, choose ones that do not contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and follow directions carefully.

For something soft on the floor, consider area rugs, which are easier to clean than carpet. If you choose carpets, look for carpets and carpet pads that are made and installed without glues, and do not contain toxic flame retardants (such as PBDEs), PVC, mothproofing chemicals, or stain-resistance treatments.

4. Steer clear of wallpaper, blinds, or shades made of vinyl (PVC).

Choose wood and metal blinds instead of vinyl blinds. Avoid plastic roller shades and wallpaper, which are typically made of vinyl (PVC). Try to clean window coverings regularly to remove dust.

5. Think twice when choosing mattresses and furniture.

  • Mattresses: wool, cotton, or latex mattresses are best.
  • Solid furniture: solid wood is the best choice.  Avoid furniture that contains formaldehyde-based glues.
  • Upholstered furniture: choose from companies such as IKEA that do not use toxic flame retardants.

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