Protecting Our Nation’s Children

Each October, EPA celebrates Children’s Health Month through activities specially designed to increase awareness on the importance of protecting our children from environmental risks. First, we must note that no matter how precocious and bright children are nowadays, they are not little adults. Their bodies are in full development. They inhale more air, drink more water, and eat more food in proportion to their body size. Therefore, environmental exposures such as allergens, pesticides, chemicals and toxics present much greater risks in children than adults. Furthermore, their common behavior of crawling and taking many objects to their mouth just intensifies these risks. That’s why we have to keep their environments healthy—where they live, learn, and play. Our nation’s children need healthy environments at home, at day care centers, in schools, and their neighborhoods.

As EPA’s Hispanic liaison, I’m taking this message to Hispanic parents via Spanish-language media outlets, our Spanish portal and social media like @EPAespanol on Twitter in order to overcome their linguistic barriers to environmental awareness. It’s not only communicating the message in Spanish, but culturally tailoring the message to diverse Spanish-speaking communities. Why is it necessary to do Hispanic outreach? Census studies reveal that the Hispanic population, in general is younger than their non-Hispanic counterparts in the US. For example, 25% of the children in the US are of Hispanic descent. 62% of Hispanic households include children younger than 18. Furthermore, 53% of Hispanic 4 year-olds were enrolled in nursery school in 2007. In addition, when we take into account the fact that many Hispanic and multilingual communities tend to work, leave, learn, and play in areas where they may be subject to greater environmental exposures, we would be negligent if we did not make special efforts to take EPA’s message to the community—that will be the subject of a future blog.

In the meantime, please celebrate Children’s Health Month, learning how you can better protect all our nation’s children from environmental risks in the home, at school, or in the great outdoors. We have these tips available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean.유해한 환경으로부터 어린이 보호하기 (2 페이지MS WORD/.doc)
What You Can Do to Protect Children from Environmental Risks

With these simple steps, we can go along way to help our children have long and productive lives. Let’s do this today to guarantee a better future for generations to come.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.