child safety

Reducing the Use of Pesticides in New York City Child Care Centers

By Marcia Anderson

On any normal day, children and child care providers may be potentially exposed to pesticides from indoor and/or outdoor pesticide applications in the child care setting. As a member of the Region 2 EPA Pesticides Program, I took part in a study conducted in one New York City borough to evaluate the manner, type and frequency of pesticides being applied in child care centers (CCCs) in order to improve pest management practices and reduce childhood exposure.

We found that 80% of the CCCs studied, applied pesticides on a scheduled basis. This high frequency of applications show a strong dependence on pesticides being applied as a deterent, or preventative. Since many children spend a large portion of their day at child care facilities it is clear that reducing their exposures in these facilities would greatly reduce all of the children’s cumulative potential exposure to pesticides.

In addition, we found that 58% of child care centers relied on the spraying of pesticides by pest control companies to combat pests. Sprayed chemicals may become airborne and settle on toys, desks, counters, shades and walls. The children and staff may touch contaminated surfaces and unknowingly expose themselves to invisible residues that can remain for days. This means that over half of all the children in the study were at a heightened risk of exposure because pesticide sprays volatilize and become airborne, leading to inhalation exposure, then they settle down on surfaces, leading to additional risk of dermal exposure. When children put toys in their mouths that spray has settled on, or put their fingers in their mouths, the children are at risk for ingestion exposure.

In a study conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation it was found that the heaviest applications of registered pesticides in all of New York State, including the upstate agricultural region, occurred in the boroughs of NYC. More

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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Keeping City Children Safe from Rat Poisons | National Poison Prevention Month

By Marcia Anderson

Rodenticides are an important tool for controlling mice and rats around the home; however, the use of these products has been associated with accidental exposures to thousands of children each year.

Minor mouse infestations are often handled by consumers applying over-the-counter (OTC) mouse bait. Typically, these are casual applications of simply putting the bait in areas showing mouse activity. Moreover, mice are notorious for moving (translocating) pellet-style baits and depositing them in a variety of areas away from the placement site.

Anticoagulant rodenticides are generally applied in the form of pelletized baits or bait blocks which are odorless and tasteless. They cause death in rodents after repeated feedings resulting in accumulation to a lethal internal dose. Among rodenticides, the super warfarin rodenticides are 100x more toxic than warfarin rodenticides.

A newly designed, EPA approved, child proof and tamper proof mouse trap

Young children are especially vulnerable to exposure from rodenticides, as they are most often placed low to the ground, at the same altitude as the play, potentially adding to their increased susceptibility to exposure of laid baits and traps. In children, rodenticide exposure generally occurs via ingestion as most children obtain the poison from the site where bait traps are placed.  It is the loose baits that have been of great concern to health care providers, poison control and emergency personnel.

Nationally there are about 90,000 calls to Poison Control Centers concerning pesticide exposure annually. Of these, 20% (about 19,000) of those calls are for Rodenticides, with over 15,000 of Rodenticide calls (86%) for children under 6 years old ingesting rodenticides.

It appears that only a small number of exposed children experience medical symptoms or suffer adverse health effects, as a result of their exposure, however, these exposures often cause much concern and unnecessary alarm among parents. The problem is the perception that a “poisoning event” has occurred and the consequences are emotional and time consuming for all parties.

The EPA has addressed this situation by significantly reducing the likelihood of rodenticide exposure to children by taking the most toxic rat baits, the second generation “super” warfarin pesticides, off of the consumer market and requiring child proof / tamper proof packaging for all first generation warfarins that will be available to consumers.

About the Author: Marcia is the bed bug and vector management specialist for the Pesticides Program in Edison. She has a BS in Biology from Monmouth, second degree in Environmental Design-Landscape Architecture from Rutgers, Masters in Instruction and Curriculum from Kean, and is a PhD in Environmental Management candidate from Montclair – specializing in Integrated Pest Management and Environmental Communications. Prior to EPA, and concurrently, she has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology and Oceanography at Kean University for 14 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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Imagination Playground

By Larry Siegel

What can be more fun than providing a safe space for children to have fun in the City? And, to top it off, it is a mobile play space! The “Imagination Playground” is a project of the Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) and operates out of the City University of New York. CERG “links university scholarship with the development of policies, environments and programs to fulfill children’s rights and improve the quality of their lives.”

The playground enables children to engage in creative constructions and inventions and provides a higher degree of social interaction than a typical playground with fixed equipment.

Imagination Playground in a Box is a kit of parts suitable for a variety of outdoor and indoor sites. It offers a cost-effective means to provide children with opportunities to engage in open-ended, free play. The set includes Imagination Playground Blocks, parts that encourage sand and water play, a starter kit of “found parts,” and a storage unit on wheels. The “In a Box” model can be wheeled indoors and outdoors, and is suitable for supervised sites, such as child care and school settings. The two-part container can be used as open shelving or as closed storage.

To see a short video on the Imagination Playground or to order an Imagination Playground (yes, you can order one) you can go to this URL.

After providing massive amounts of safe and creative fun in the sun, the parts used in the playground are packed into containers and brought to another location on another day. Cool, huh?

About the Author: Larry Siegel has worked as a writer of corporate policies and procedures and as a technical writer. He currently works as a Pesticide Community Outreach Specialist for the Pesticide and Toxic Substances Branch in Edison, NJ

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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