What You Can Do to Protect Children from Environmental Risks
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.Tips En Español
Tips in Vietnamese (PDF) (2 pp, 101K)
Tips in Chinese (Word, 36K or PDF, 2 pp, 296K)
Tips in Korean (Word) (2 pp, 33K)
EPA welcomes the opportunity to work with other individuals, companies, and organizations to encourage environmentally responsible actions in honor of Children's Health Month. Review some fast facts on children’s environmental health.
If you're a teen who wants to learn more about environmental health issues and do some fun activities to spread the word about how to protect yourself and your friends from harm, read Live, Learn, Play — Tune Into Your Health and Environment (October 2004) - available in HTML format or PDF Format (36 pp, 2MB).
Help children breathe easier
- Don't smoke and don't let others smoke in your home or car.
- Keep your home as clean as possible. Dust, mold, certain household pests, secondhand smoke, and pet dander can trigger asthma attacks and allergies.
- Limit outdoor activity on ozone alert days when air pollution is especially harmful.
- Walk, use bicycles, join or form carpools, and take public transportation.
- Limit motor vehicle idling.
- Avoid open burning.
Protect children from lead poisoning
- Get kids tested for lead by their doctor or health care provider.
- Test your home for lead paint hazards if it was built before 1978.
- Wash children's hands before they eat; wash bottles, pacifiers, and toys often.
- Wash floors and window sills to protect kids from dust and peeling paint contaminated with lead - especially in older homes.
- Run cold water until it becomes as cold as it can get. Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula.
Keep pesticides and other toxic chemicals away from children
- Store food and trash in closed containers to keep pests from coming into your home.
- Use baits and traps when you can; place baits and traps where kids can't get them.
- Read product labels and follow directions.
- Store pesticides and toxic chemicals where kids can't reach them - never put them in other containers that kids can mistake for food or drink.
- Keep children, toys, and pets away when pesticides are applied; don't let them play in fields, orchards, and gardens after pesticides have been used for at least the time recommended on the pesticide label.
- Wash fruits and vegetables under running water before eating - peel them before eating, when possible.
Protect children from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
- Have fuel-burning appliances, furnace flues, and chimneys checked once a year.
- Never use gas ovens or burners for heat; never use barbecues or grills indoors or in the garage.
- Never sleep in rooms with unvented gas or kerosene space heaters.
- Don't run cars or lawnmowers in the garage.
- Install in sleeping areas a CO alarm that meets UL, IAS, or Canadian standards.
Protect children from contaminated fish and polluted water
- Be alert for local fish advisories and beach closings. Contact your local health department.
- Take used motor oil to a recycling center; properly dispose of toxic household chemicals.
- Learn what's in your drinking water - call your local public water supplier for annual drinking water quality reports; for private drinking water wells, have them tested annually by a certified laboratory. Call 1-800-426-4791 or contact www.epa.gov/safewater for help.
Safeguard children from high levels of radon
- Test your home for radon with a home test kit.
- Fix your home if your radon level is 4 pCi/L or higher. For help, call your state radon office or 1-800-SOS-RADON.
Protect children from too much sun
- Wear hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15+ on kids over six months; keep infants out of direct sunlight.
- Limit time in the mid-day sun - the sun is most intense between 10 and 4.
Keep children and mercury apart
- Eat a balanced diet but avoid fish with high levels of mercury.
- Replace mercury thermometers with digital thermometers.
- Don't let kids handle or play with mercury.
- Never heat or burn mercury.
- Contact your state or local health or environment department if mercury is spilled - never vacuum a spill.
Promote healthier communities
- Walk, use bicycles, join or form carpools, and take public transportation to reduce air pollution, including greenhouse gases (PDF) (33 pp, 1.3MB).
- Spearhead a clean school bus campaign in your community. Clean School Bus USA emphasizes three ways to reduce public school bus emissions:
- Anti-idling strategies: Unnecessary idling pollutes the air, wastes fuel, and causes excess engine wear. It also wastes money and results in the wear and tear of the vehicle's engine.
- Engine retrofit and clean fuels: Retrofitted engines run cleaner because they have been fitted with devices designed to reduce pollution and/or use cleaner fuel.
- Bus replacement: Older buses are not equipped with today's pollution control or safety features. Pre-1990 buses have been estimated to emit as much as six times more pollution as new buses that were built starting in 2004 and as much as 60 times more pollution as buses that meet the 2007 standards.
- Careful site selection to minimize impacts on the surrounding environment and increase alternative transportation options.
- Energy and water conservation to help ensure efficient use of natural resources and lower utility bills.
- Responsible stormwater management to help limit disruption of natural watershed functions and reduce the environmental impacts of stormwater runoff.
- Improved indoor air quality through the use of low volatile organic compound products and careful ventilation practices during construction and renovation.
- Providing information, model programs, and analytical tools to inform communities about growth and development.
- Working to remove federal barriers that may hinder smarter community growth.
- Creating new resources and incentives for states and communities pursuing smart growth.
- Their bodily systems are still developing
- They eat more, drink more, and breathe more in proportion to their body size
- Their behavior can expose them more to chemicals and organisms
To order Tips (5.75" X 9.75" or Growth Chart formats), please call 1-800-490-9198 or order via the Internet at: www.epa.gov/ncepihom. The publication numbers for these documents are:Tips (5.75" X 9.75" Spanish and English) EPA 100-F-02-004
Growth Chart (English) EPA 100-F-04-013
Growth Chart (Spanish) EPA 100F-04-012