Creating Healthy Environments for Kids

guilherme jofili/Flickr


Guest post by Nsedu Witherspoon, MPH; Executive Director, Children's Environmental Health Network

Like every parent, I want the best future for my children. No one has a greater role in shaping a child’s environment than his or her parents, and a parent’s choices -- from what they bring into their home to how they vote -- profoundly affect their children’s future.

Science is only now revealing how much a child’s environment influences their health, development and ability to learn. Children can be harmed for life by some common chemicals at levels previously thought to be safe. For example, we now know that there is no safe level of lead exposure for children.

That’s why Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) speaks up for children.

For more than 20 years, the Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN) has worked to protect children from environmental hazards. That includes efforts to keep potentially harmful substances -- such as chemicals that interfere with children’s sensitive developing nervous systems or hormone systems -- out of children’s bodies and environments.

Our laws and regulations should put children’s health first, but unfortunately, that is not usually the case. We find trace amounts of many modern chemicals in our children’s bodies even though most chemicals are untested for their effects on kids’ health.

What can parents do? They can support our work, and weigh in with legislators and regulators on behalf of standards and laws that put children’s health first.

Parents can also create healthier environments for their own children, at home and elsewhere. CEHN’s advisors have developed a free 30-question checklist that anyone can use to make healthier choices. You can download the checklist, in English or Spanish, from CEHN.

The checklist is part of our award-winning, science-based Eco-Healthy Child Care® program. The program and checklist have already been embraced by thousands of child care providers. But you don’t have to run a day care to find it useful. The checklist offers free and low-cost steps anyone can take to create a healthier environment.

Some steps -- such as crossing air fresheners off of your shopping list – can even save you money. Did you know that both the American Lung Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against adding such chemicals to your indoor environment? You can find out more from our free fact sheets here.

You can also work with your child care provider to make sure that they follow the Eco-Healthy Child Care® checklist practices. EHCC-endorsed providers not only get recognition for their efforts, they receive free tips and technical assistance in creating healthier environments.

The Children’s Environmental Health Network is dedicated to helping all parents create healthier environments for all children. Join us!


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