There are many environmental hazards that can affect the health of children.
Environmental Health hazards identified in Head Start centers range from structural concerns to basic
sanitation, food safety to playground safety, room size to the number of enrolled children, blood borne
pathogen's policy to emergency evacuation policies, air quality to asthma, etc. The quality of the child's
whole environment within the Head Start program as well as at home is critical to the child's overall health.
Facilities AI/AN Head Start centers are reviewed on a regular basis by IHS and Tribal environmental health specialists.
The leading environmental health challenges were:
Fire prevention & emergency response
Outdoor environment (playground areas)
Infectious disease control
Functional design and structure
Lighting and electrical
Sanitation and disinfection
Medication handling/Storage and administration
Asthma According to the FY 2001 Indian Health Focus, the leading cause of hospitalizations for AI/AN children
was respiratory illness. Also, according to the Head Start Program Information Reports, there is an increased
trend in asthma among AI/AN Head Start children.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that is characterized by intermittent, recurring episodes of wheezing,
breathlessness, tightness of the chest and coughing.
Over the past 15 years, the number of Americans afflicted with asthma has doubled to an estimated 15
million people, including an estimated 4.4 million children.
Of the nine million children diagnosed with asthma, 17.3 percent were African American, 20.7 percent
American Indian, 12 percent Hispanic, and 6.8 percent were Asian Americans. 29.7% were Native Hawaiian or