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Health and Environmental Issues for Children Under Six

Maintaining A Safe Environment

Ground-level Ozone

Ground-level ozone can be harmful to our health and the environment!

Why is the ground-level ozone forecast important for child-care providers?

  • Children and people with pre-existing lung disease, such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, are especially sensitive.
  • Active children are at high risk from ozone exposure because they spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer.
  • Children are also more likely to have asthma, which may be aggravated by ozone exposure.

What are some things you can do to protect children?

  • On days when the ozone concentration is high and in the orange or red category, help children by planning outdoor activities in the morning or evening.
  • Keep track of the ozone forecast during the summer months.

How can I get the ozone forecast?

Indoor Air Pollution

Air pollution can be a problem where you least expect it, in the place you may have thought the safest - your home, school or workplace. Studies have shown that the air in our homes and buildings can be even more polluted than the outdoor air!

Many Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. Therefore, breathing clean indoor air is important to our health. People who are inside a lot may be at a greater risk of developing health problems or have health problems made worse by indoor air pollutants. These people include infants, young children, the elderly, and those who are chronically ill.

Reasons for Air Pollution Awareness

  • A young child is not able to deal with harmful substances taken into his body.
  • Harmful substances may interfere with growth and development.
  • Some pollutants can harm the learning process.
  • Children breathe more air and take in more food than adults. So children get higher "doses" of any harmful things that may be in air, food and drink.

Common Indoor Air Pollutants (Some of these are in every home and daycare center. It is impossible to get rid of them all.)

  • Animal dander
  • Dust mite and cockroach parts
  • Indoor Molds
  • Infectious agents (bacteria or viruses)
  • Pollen
  • Household cleaning and maintenance products
  • Perfumes, including scented candles
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Wood Smoke

Common Signs and Symptoms of Poor Indoor Air Quality

  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Itching
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Wheezing and difficult breathing

Where are indoor air pollutants found?

  • Anyplace that has water damage
  • Bathrooms and/or kitchens without vents or windows
  • Bedding
  • Dirty heating, ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Dirty humidifiers and/or dehumidifiers
  • Dogs or cats
  • Laundry rooms with unvented dryers
  • Refrigerator drip pans

Controlling Air Pollutants

  • Dust
    • Clean frequently with a high performance vacuum cleaner or damp mops and dustrags.
    • Clean when children are not around for one or two days.
    • Clean carpets using carpet cleaners when children are not around.
    • Use fans to help dry the carpet.
  • Controlling Roaches and Roach Droppings
    • Clean up food scraps and crumbs promptly.
    • Cover trash containers.
    • Dry up spilled water and other liquids.
    • Store food in tight containers.
    • Have a professional service spray when children are not around.
  • Dust Mites
    • Clean upholstered furniture regularly.
    • Launder bedding frequently in hot water.
    • Launder stuffed toys in hot water or place in the freezer for a few hours to kill mite eggs.
  • Mold
    • Clean mold with household bleach products and dry thoroughly.
    • Correct any moisture problems that allow mold to grow.
  • Cleaning Products and Pesticides
    • Air out rooms or areas after using strong solvents or harsh chemicals.
    • Clean with or use these products when children are not around for a day or two.
    • Store these products where children cannot get at them!

Are Ozone Generators Air Cleaners?

Ozone generators that are sold as air cleaners intentionally produce the gas ozone. Often the vendors of ozone generators make statements and distribute material that lead the public to believe that these devices are always safe and effective in controlling indoor air pollution. They may use misleading terms such as "energized oxygen" or "pure air" to suggest that ozone is a healthy kind of oxygen. Actually, ozone is a toxic gas with vastly different chemical and toxicological properties from oxygen. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation.

For almost a century, health professionals have refuted the claims of manufacturers of ozone generators. Available scientific evidence shows that ozone generators have little potential to remove indoor air contaminants, odor-causing chemicals, viruses, bacteria, mold or other biological pollutants.

Useful Internet Links

Lead Poisoning

Childhood lead poisoning is a preventable illness that affects hundreds of South Carolina's children.

What are the sources of Lead?

  • Lead-based paint
  • Dust and soil
  • Some vinyl miniblinds
  • Some glazed pottery
  • Car batteries
  • Lead fishing weights
  • Cosmetics such as surma or kohl
  • Material for refinishing furniture
  • Stained glass solder
  • Water pipes with lead solder
  • Lead ammunition for hunting
  • Traditional medicines such as Greta, Azarcon and Pay-loo-ah
  • Some candle wicks

How Does Lead Get into a Child's Body?

  • Lead can enter the body in two ways:
    • Chewing or eating something that contains lead; or
    • Breathing dust that contains lead.
  • Children should be tested for lead poisoning before age 2.

Be Aware: Know your Building

  • If your day care is in a building constructed before 1978, it may contain lead. The windows, doors, walls, porches and exterior siding of pre-1950 buildings are even more likely to contain lead-based paint. Flaking, peeling, chipping or chalking paint with lead in it can be a hazard, especially to young children.
  • When lead painted or varnished surfaces are disturbed by renovation, they can create hazards for the children in your care.
  • To find out if your building may have lead hazards, purchase a test kit from hardware or paint store. To get even better information, send paint chips or dust wipe samples to a certified lab for analysis.
  • A certified lead risk assessor can recommend a course of action. Call 1-800-424-5323 for a list of labs and/or certified risk assessors.
  • Correct problem areas immediately.

Take Care

  • You can learn how to maintain your property safely to prevent and reduce lead hazards.
  • Wet-dust, wet-mop floors and vacuum carpets often to control lead dust.
  • For dusting, use damp paper towels and throw them away. If you use dust rags, wash them separately from other laundry or throw them away.
  • Clean windowsills inside and out. Wash dust and loose paint chips from window wells and woodwork. Use paper towels, warm water and household detergent. Rinse well.
  • Use only lead-safe miniblinds.
  • Keep play areas away from outside walls. Inspect children's activity areas often for changes in the condition of paint and varnish.

What Can I do to Prevent Lead Poisoning?

  • Wash hands and faces often, especially before eating and after playing.
    • Keep fingernails clean and trimmed.
  • Reduce possible lead sources.
    • Clean up paint chips and dust.
    • Look for "Lead Safe" or "No Lead Added" labels before buying vinyl miniblinds.
    • Don't vacuum paint chips or dust. Wet-wipe or wet-mop dusty windows and floors.
  • Keep playtime safe.
    • Play in grass-covered areas or a clean sandbox.
    • Wash toys and stuffed animals often.
    • Don't let children eat dirt or paint chips.
    • Don't let children put toys or small objects in their mouths.
    • Don't let children play with batteries or items used in hobbies such as stained glass or furniture refinishing products.
  • Keep baby's bottle and pacifier nipples clean.
    • Wash the nipple whenever the bottle or pacifier falls onto the floor.
  • Store food in lead-safe containers.
    • Glass and plastic are safe containers for food storage.
    • Do not store food in open cans or ceramic dishes.
    • Do not store liquids in lead crystal or pewter.
  • Let tap water run for up to two minutes before using.
    • Use cold tap water for drinking and cooking. Cold tap water can contain less lead than hot water.
    • Prepare infant formula with cold water.
  • Serve three meals and two or three healthy snacks every day.
    • Less lead is absorbed when a child's stomach is full.

SUGGESTED LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION ON LEAD ISSUES: