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.
- What to Ask when Selecting a Child Care Provider
- Building Condition Checklist [DOC]
- U.S. EPA: Healthy Child Care Initiative
- U.S. EPA: Training and Curriculum Resources for Healthy Child Care
Sample Written Plans and Information for Child Care Providers
- Sample Prevention of Exposure to Lead Policy for Child Care Providers [DOC]
- U.S. EPA Renovation, Repair, and Paint Rule for Operators of Child Care Facilities
- If You Disturb Paint, You Must Get Lead-Safe Certified [PDF] (for Property Managers)
- If You Disturb Paint, You Must Get Lead-Safe Certified [PDF] (for Child Care Directors)
- “Let’s Get the Lead Out,” available from I-LEAD. Clock hours are available. Copies of certificates should be kept as proof of training.
- “Lead Paint: Indiana’s Poisoned Children” - A free online 17 minute video. A 30 minute version is also available, which has aired on Indiana PBS stations.
- Water Flusher Signs [PDF] - Remind staff to flush faucets used for cooking and drinking each morning.
- Evaluating and Eliminating Lead-Based Paint Hazards - From U.S. EPA, describes tools available.
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.
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 on the IDEM Community Environmental Health website.
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:
- Indiana Pest Control Policy for Child Care Facilities [PDF] - available from the Indiana Pesticide Review Board.
- Sample Integrated Pest Management Policy for Child Care Providers [DOC]
- Information on Radon
- Radon test kits are available at many local hardware stores.
- 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
- For a sample policy for school bus idling, follow the School Transportation Association of Indiana policy [PDF] for bus idling during warm up.
- Magnets containing the school bus idling policy are also available by contacting IDEM at (800) 988-7901.
- "No Idling" at Child Care Facilities Report [PDF]
- Great Reasons Not to Idle [PDF]
- Templates for a parent newsletter article and emails [DOC]
- Teachers may take the free online training, titled “Asthma Module 1” and “Asthma Module 2” available from I-LEAD. Clock hours are available.
- California Childcare Health Program: Asthma Information Packet for Early Care and Education Providers
- SmogWatch is available from IDEM to monitor your local air quality daily.
- Indiana Emergency Response Planning Guide for Child Care Providers [PDF]
- Day Care Facilities Emergency Planning Guide - Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency: Includes guidelines for what to do for specific hazards including fires, explosions, severe storms, flooding, winter storms, hazardous materials, earthquakes, utility failures, violent situations, and more. Also provides samples letters and forms.