OCTOBER 10 IS CHILDREN’S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH DAY
October 10 is National Children’s Environmental Health Day, a day to bring awareness to making sure all children live and play in the healthiest environment possible.
Today’s children face an epidemic of illnesses and chronic diseases linked to environmental exposures. The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics in 2013 published America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. This report provides critical information about children:
- Children under 18 years of age number 74 million and comprise 23% of the population;
- 53% are white, 24% are Hispanic, 14% are black, and 5% are Asian;
- 22% of America’s children live in poverty.
Children experience increased rates of disease and disease risk factors:
- Only 68% are fully immunized;
- 18% are obese;
- 10% suffer from asthma.
Too many children lack the basic necessities of life:
- 46% reside in “hazardous housing”;
- 22% are “food insecure”;
- 686,000 suffer abuse/neglect;
- 9% lack health insurance.
Children are routinely exposed to significant environmental hazards:
- At least 4 million households include children exposed to high levels of lead – children of color and living in poverty are disproportionately at risk for elevated blood lead levels;
- 8,684 children die from injuries
- 66% live in poor air quality areas.
The Children’s Environmental Health Network (https://cehn.org/) invites all concerned citizens to access their website and discover resources for health care professionals as well as parents and caregivers.
CEHN’s top tips to creating healthier environments for children are:
- Keep homes, vehicles, and any place where children are present smoke-free
- Store all chemicals out of reach.
- Maintain any lead-based paint to prevent chipping and flaking.
- Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing formula to minimize lead levels.
- Prevent pests from coming in your home; if intervention is needed, use least toxic methods.
- Check Radon levels every two (2) years and remediate if necessary.
- Here’s a link for a free Radon test kit: https://getresults.doctorhomeair.com/fmi/webd/Alpha_OhioRequests
- Install carbon monoxide monitors near bedrooms.
- Buy organic produce when possible; wash all produce, organic or not.
- Keep plastic out of the microwave to keep harmful plastic additives out of your food.
- Keep your house free of water leaks; keep it dry and well ventilated.
Richland Public Health’s Nursing Department encourages parents, especially those who live in houses built before 1978, to ask their physician about testing for Lead Poisoning. Lead Poisoning poses a serious risk to childrens’ health – even a low level of lead exposure can cause learning disabilities, speech, language, and behavior problems, hearing damage, and other serious health effects. The Environmental Protection Agency encourages the following steps to keep your child healthy:
- Get your child tested for lead even if they seem healthy
- In 2016,162,185 children in Ohio were tested for lead poisoning 4,591 were confirmed to have blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter, and 1,303 were confirmed to have blood lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter
- The current position of the Centers for Disease Control is that there is no safe amount of lead in the blood
- Have your home and water tested for lead
- Don’t try to remove lead-based paint yourself – hire a professional and get guidance before you remodel
- Don’t let your kids play near (or eat) paint chips. Repair peeling or chipped paint surfaces
- Keep your home and play areas clean of lead paint dust by damp mopping and washing toys, and by using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filter
- Make sure your kids wash before eating
- Have your child eat a well-balanced diet rich in Vitamin C (from tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, and potatoes), Calcium (from milk, cheese, and yogurt), and Iron (from chicken, steak, fish, peas, and eggs)
Common sources of lead we recommend you identify and potentially remove (or at least reduce the exposure of children to) include:
- Chipped paint
- Dirt, especially near lots which once hosted a factory or processing plant
- Old furniture and toys
- Play or costume jewelry
- Crystal glassware
- Imported goods such as glazed pottery, Asian, Hispanic and Indian spices, and Mexican candies such as tamarindo and chili
- Indian/Asian/African beauty products such as Sindoor, Khol, Kajal and Surma
If you have any questions about keeping your child safe from lead exposure, do not hesitate to contact Public Health Nursing at (419) 774-4540, and ask for Stephanie Thull or Laura Corbett.