The skin of infants and toddlers is more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation. Their skin absorbs chemicals more easily than the skin of adults and older children. Sun exposure can cause unhealthy changes in the skin at any age. Of the three types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB damage skin. Children should spend a lot of time outdoors. Protecting their skin from sun damage is very important.
No matter what type or tone of skin a person has, from infancy to old age, everyone should have protection from sun exposure. Sunscreen products and sun protective clothing help prevent sunburn, skin cancer and early skin aging throughout life. The best protection is wearing light weight, tightly-woven sun-protective hats and clothing outside. Wearing sun protective clothing should be combined with wearing sun screen after 6 months of age.
Child care facilities located on sites that used harmful chemicals years ago could pose a health risk to children and pregnant women today. Young children and pregnant women are more vulnerable when exposed to chemicals. The Pennsylvania Department of Welfare and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are working together to ensure that new child care centers are located in healthy environments. The initiative is called Healthy and Green Child Care Siting. The PA Department of Health evaluates the history of a property and determines whether or not hazardous materials are present at a level that could harm the health of children and their caregivers. The activities address the following questions:
Identifying a potential problem does not mean the property isn’t safe. It means that additional investigation is warranted. If needed, the Department of Health will work with the environmental agencies to review how the property was used in the past and whether or not it poses a health risk.
This may include 1) a review of the chemicals used at the site; 2) how they were handled or stored; and 3) if they contaminated the property, whether or not they pose a health risk to children and their caregivers.
Sites or activities that raise concerns include:
Chemical exposures during child development may contribute to respiratory illnesses, cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, obesity and birth defects. With over 3000 licensed child care centers in Pennsylvania, this program will help prevent harmful exposures to children and staff in child care centers. Providing a healthy environment for children is a goal we all share.
The program is routinely working with new child care center applicants. Child care that is provided in a home is not targeted for this program due to the low risk of exposure to hazardous waste sites in a residential setting. Directors of existing child care centers with questions or concerns about contamination of the center site may ask for help to evaluate the risk. Contact the Pa. Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, Health Assessment Program at 717-787-3350 or email Barbara Allerton at .
Contributed by Barbara Allerton, Epidemiology Research Associate, PA Department of Health