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The health of our children and family is a concern we all share. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the land where we build our homes, affect children’s health perhaps more than we are aware.
Children in particular are susceptible to threats in the environment because their central nervous system and organs have not created the protective barriers that most adults develop. For instance, since children do not have fully developed blood brain barriers, mercury passes easily to the central nervous system. Children’s exposures are further intensified by typical childhood activities, like playing in the dirt and putting their hands and other objects in their mouths. Those increased exposure levels, imposed upon immature bodily defense systems, make children more vulnerable to toxic chemicals.
Must we live and work in constant fear? Absolutely not. Should we be concerned and act judiciously? Yes. Mostly, we need to be educated. As parents, teachers, and child care providers, you have a unique opportunity to educate yourselves, staff, and families on the many steps we all can take to protect children from threats in the environment. Many of these measures are simple – like running the cold water tap for 30 seconds every morning to make sure any lead deposits are flushed out or running the vacuum cleaner when children are not around. The IDEM environmental health pages will educate you on potential environmental health risks that may be present in your home, child care, or school and specific steps to address them.
Ensuring a healthy future for our children is a responsibility we all share. Educating yourself on environmental issues will create cleaner, healthier communities throughout Indiana.
Common environmental health threats: