Summer 2013 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

Children’s Environmental Health – EPA News to Use!

Children’s Environmental Health – EPA News to Use!

Everyone wants a healthy environment for our children. We need to know what environmental conditions or contaminants threaten children in different settings, including child care. A recent report was released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report is called “America’s Children and the Environment” or “ACE.” The ACE report provides details about exposures to a broad range of environmental stressors that can affect children’s health.

In addition to describing the exposures, the ACE report reviews the current status and trends for 23 environmental health concerns. Among these are contamination of air, food, land and indoor environments; monitoring contaminants in children’s blood; diseases and health issues; and contaminants in schools and child care facilities.

Each topic includes a general description of the issue and “indicators of exposure.” The indicators are the results of studies or statistics that indirectly measure potential exposure of children to a hazard. For example, an indicator of exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is the percent of children living in homes where someone smokes. Trends over time have shown a dramatic decrease in children’s exposure to ETS.

Many of these topics are relevant for early learning professionals. Although we cannot control every aspect of outdoor environmental pollution, we can limit children’s exposure to them. Indoors, we can make the environment safer by wise choices and practices related to products we use.

The ACE report section “Contaminants in Schools and Child Care Facilities” (p. 288) is especially helpful. It describes research that found a widespread problem of pesticide residues on surfaces in child care centers. The evidence showed that these residues are long-lasting contaminants. The researchers used special wipes to collect samples from children’s hands. They found many children in the child care centers had pesticide residues on their hands.

Pesticides are intended to be toxic to control pests. Everyone should use the improved pest management strategies called “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) to limit human exposure to pesticides. For more information on safer, more effective pest control for child care go to the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection at and Penn State’s IPM Program at To read the full ACE report, go to

Contributed by Lyn Garling, Program Manager PA IPM Program, Penn State University

ECELS Reminders about Key Strategies of IPM for Pest Control

Observe where and how much of a pest problem you have

  • Shut them out
  • Stop feeding them
  • Remove clutter that hides them