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Protect Children at Child Care

Child Care providers play a key role in protecting children from environmental health threats both in their own buildings and through education to parents about the homes in which children live. Children are more vulnerable to the negative effects of environmental hazards such as lead in paint and water, pesticides, mercury, asbestos, and radon. Children are exposed to more pollutants in their food, water, and air because they eat, drink and breathe more per pound of body weight than adults. They are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals because their bodily defense mechanisms are not fully formed. And research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain develops by age four. That’s why it’s essential to provide children with a safe, clean environment.

Environmental Health Training Opportunities for Child Care Providers

  • “Let’s Get the Lead Out,” available from I-LEAD. Clock hours available.
  • “Asthma Module 1,” available from I-LEAD. Clock hours available.
  • “Asthma Module 2,” available from I-LEAD. Clock hours available.
  • “Preparing for Emergency & Disaster in the Child Care Setting,” available from I-LEAD. Clock hours available.


Sample Written Plans and Information for Child Care Providers

Recycling Mercury and Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Mercury containing items should not be thrown in the trash. Mercury can be released when the item is broken, contaminating the parking lot, street, or facility. Mercury containing items such as fluorescent bulbs, thermometers, and thermostats should be taken to a location which recycles them. Some household hazardous waste locations will accept these items for recycling. In addition, certain home improvement stores also offer recycling. Free downloadable recycling posters are available to promote battery and fluorescent bulb recycling.

Mercury Information

Many thermostats contain mercury. If you choose to replace your existing thermostat, it is recommended that a professional heating and cooling contractor remove mercury thermostats to reduce chances of breaking the mercury containing capsule within the thermostat. Mercury thermostats should be recycled, never thrown in the trash. When replacing thermostats, be sure to purchase a digital thermostat.

If you have a mercury thermostat, there is no requirement to remove it, however, IDEM can provide you with a mini mercury spill kit for your facility. IDEM also has "Contains Mercury" Stickers to place on the thermostat as a reminder to recycle it rather than throw it away. Stickers and spill kits are available at no cost by contacting IDEM at (800) 988-7901.

Additional information about mercury is available.

Pest Control

Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques involve eliminating potential food, water and living space for pests, and sealing up their entry routes into buildings and using pesticides only when a confirmed pest problem is present.

Additional IPM tools are available:

  • Information on Radon
  • Radon test kits are available at many local hardware stores.
Pet Policies
  • Care and Handling of Animals on Child Care Center Premises: Adapted from materials developed by the Child Care Health Program, Public Health - Seattle & King County
  • No Pets with Fur or Feathers Sample Policy - To reduce asthma and allergy triggers, _______ Child Care does not permit pets with fur or feathers (except to meet ADA requirements for service animals or on rare occasions, such as for Show and Tell and when students with asthma or allergies are appropriately accommodated.)
100% Tobacco-Free Facility and Grounds
Vehicle Idling
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

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