Tips for Protecting Children from Environmental Risks

We hear all the time in the media how we should protect our children from harmful things in our environment. But how do we go about doing this? Here are some tips that will help you in your quest to protect your children.

Help children breathe easier

Don’t smoke and don’t let others smoke in your home or car.

Keep your home as clean as possible. Dust, mold, certain household pests, secondhand smoke, and pet dander can trigger asthma attacks and allergies.

Limit outdoor activity on ozone alert days when air pollution is especially harmful.

Walk, use bicycles, join or form carpools, and take public transportation.

Limit motor vehicle idling.

Avoid open burning.

Protect children from lead poisoning

Get kids tested for lead by their doctor or health care provider.

Test your home for lead paint hazards if it was built before 1978.

Wash children’s hands before they eat; wash bottles, pacifiers, and toys often.

Wash floors and window sills to protect kids from dust and peeling paint contaminated with lead–especially in older homes.

Run the cold water for at least 30 seconds to flush lead from pipes.

Keep pesticides and other toxic chemicals away from children

Store food and trash in closed containers to keep pets from coming into your home.

Use bait and traps when you can; place bait and traps where kids can’t get them.

Read product labels and follow directions.

Store pesticides and toxic chemicals where kids can’t reach them–never put them in other containers that kids can mistake for food or drink.

Keep children, toys, and pets away when pesticides are applied; don’t let them play in fields, orchards, and gardens after pesticides have been used for at least the time recommended on the pesticide label.

Wash fruits and vegetables under running water before eating–peel them before eating, when possible.

Protect children from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning

Have fuel-burning appliances, furnace flues, and chimneys checked once a year.

Never use gas ovens or burners for heat; never use barbecues or grills indoors or in the garage.

Never sleep in rooms with unvented gas or kerosene space heaters

Don’t run cars or lawnmowers in the garage.

Install in sleeping areas a CO alarm that meets UL, IAS, or Canadian standards.

Protect children from contaminated fish and polluted water

Be alert for local fish advisories or beach closings. Contact your local health department.

Take used motor oil to a recycling center; properly dispose of toxic household chemicals.

Learn what’s in your drinking water–call your local public water supplier for annual drinking water quality reports; for private drinking water wells, have them tested annually by a certified laboratory. Call 1-800-426-4791 or contact for help.

Safeguard children from high levels of radon

Test your home for radon with a home test kit.

Fix your home if your radon level is 4 pCi/L or higher. For help, call your state radon office or 1-800-SOS-RADON.

Protect children from too much sun

Wear hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing.

Use sunscreen with SPF 15+ on kids over six months; keep infants out of direct sunlight.

Limit time in the mid-day sun–the sun is most intense between 10 and 4.

Keep Children and mercury apart

Eat a balanced diet but avoid fish with high levels of mercury.

Replace mercury thermometers with digital thermometers.

Don’t let kids handle or play with mercury.

Never heat or burn mercury.

Contact your state or local health or environment department if mercury is spilled–never vacuum a spill.

Call toll-free 1-877-590-KIDS for more information or check out EPA’s Web site at

Information provided by EPA.


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