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Protecting Our Nation’s Children

2009 October 1

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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Johnny R. permalink
    October 1, 2009

    The children of all nations around the World need to be protected from the deadly effects of overpopulation and the resulting pollution of the land, rivers and oceans. By refusing to face the problem, we condemn our children to the ecocidal consequences.

  2. Mary Byron permalink
    October 1, 2009

    If the EPA is so concerned with the health of our children, perhaps they should start with the hundreds of thousands of children that were contaminated at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, through there water supply. The contamination went on for 30 years.
    Mary Byron
    Co-Founder
    The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten

  3. Andrea permalink
    October 1, 2009

    I agree with protecting our nation’s children, but do I see it happening? No, I do not. Why? Because I was one of the thousands of children who were exposed to TCE, PCE and benzene while my dad served his country at Camp Lejeune. I have aplastic anemia and my sister has birth defects and learning disabilities. Why are the dependents of servicemen and women not important enough to protect?

    Andrea Byron
    Website Administrator
    The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    October 2, 2009

    Protecting children from the health impacts of pollution is a critical step to be taken to reduce future medical costs; and the same applies to pregnant and nursing mothers. The campaign to eliminate lead paint in schools, homes and apartments is one important part. Poorer families tend to also be bigger and have more younger children and can afford less expensive housing. So they are in older housing that might still have lead paint and is more likely to be next to a freeway, a train yard, or a factory. USEPA is monitoring the air quality at and around some California schools. The California Air Resources Board is working on a program to control pollution from railyards and ports that includes providing air monitors and testing for homes next to these facilities. It also is a very good idea to put all the health and safety information out in a variety of languages so that everyone is on the same page and knows what is going on. The pollution laws may need to be tighter and we may need to speed up the time when vehicles are switched to clean alternative sources of fuel like electic, hydrogen, or hybird electric and hydrogen. All this will reduce the health problems of children. One thing that needs attention is the environmental health situation of homeless children living with a parent in a car or in a shelter. Reaching them will be hard but it is an effort that must be made. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. lyounes permalink*
    October 2, 2009

    Thanks, Mr. Bailey for your insightful comments.

  6. Mike O'Donnell permalink
    October 4, 2009

    Anyone who is interested in this topic (as I am) will also be interested in knowing about the National Children’s Study. There is an outstanding Web site that describes this study. See http://www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov .

  7. Graham Steele permalink
    October 7, 2009

    Are you going to look at the increased risks from Mercury poisioning
    in children. from the breakage of CFL and the 400 times of permissable levels of methylmercury in each one?????

  8. harry mc laughlin permalink
    October 9, 2009

    Surely it is better that children are allowed to play in mud and eat worms as small children as it helps them develop a healthy immune system? Maybe the problem is the neuroses of over protective parents who insist on bringing up their children in sterile environments, which in my view could lead to allergic reactions?

  9. Julie Holland permalink
    December 12, 2009

    There are many reasons that kids are developing more allergies these days. No one knows the impact of chemicals such as BPA over the long haul – or when included in the mix of chemicals our kids are breathing, drinking, absorbing and ingesting. What about the constant exposure to plastics, traces of dioxins, and polymers found in disposable diapers. One study linked the offgassing of disposable diapers to an increase in asthma. We can’t protect them from everything, but we do need to have better testing for household chemicals before exposure – not after the fact.

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