Children are often more vulnerable to pollutants than adults due to differences in behavior and biology. For instance, young children do not have fully developed blood brain barriers which can allow pollutants such as mercury to pass 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. These potentially increased exposure levels that are imposed upon immature bodily defense systems, make children more susceptible to the health risks associated with toxic chemicals and environmental pollutants.
Must we live and work in constant fear? Absolutely not. Should we be concerned and act judiciously? Yes, because ensuring a healthy future for our children is a responsibility that we all share.
As parents, teachers, and child care providers, you have a unique opportunity to educate yourselves, staff, and families on the many precautionary measures that can be taken 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 before drinking the water, or by choosing to use household cleaners or running the vacuum when children are not around. Learn more about children's health, the environment, and what you can do.
- National Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children
- Focal point for coordinating federal government efforts to improve children’s environmental health.
- U.S. EPA: Protecting Children’s Environmental Health
- Learn more about children's health, the environment, and what you can do.