environmental hazards

Protecting Children Comes First

By Lina Younes

I hate pests! I loathe disease-carrying rodents with a passion.

Several years ago, I participated in the filming of a TV interview in Spanish with an expert in healthy homes. Together, we went room by room through a home and day care to identify potential environmental hazards and, above all, to learn how to keep areas pest free.

I found the experience very informative. Personally, I was struck by the behavior of rodents. Did you know that mice and small rats can fit through holes about the size of a quarter and can squeeze their way into your home and take up residence, nesting in corners and feeding on food crumbs? Yuck!

Likewise, small children have their own behavioral characteristics. They spend a lot of the time on the floor, crawling or playing. Their innate curiosity leads them to grab small articles they find along their way and often put them into their mouths, including mouse pellets they may find in open trays on the floor. More than 10,000 kids each year in the U.S. are exposed to mouse and rat pellets, often by putting them in their mouths. That is why EPA has been working with pesticide manufacturers to change consumer mouse and rat poisons to be sold in enclosed bait stations, to protect curious kids from the poison. The enclosed bait stations are also protective of household pets.

In addition, EPA is banning four of the most toxic poisons from consumer products, to protect wildlife. Mouse and rat poisons that you use inside your home can harm wildlife because poisoned rodents that venture outside can poison wildlife like hawks and foxes that ingest rodents as prey.

So, what can you do to keep your children safe from accidental poisonings in the home?

  1. Read the label first! By not following the instructions carefully, you can actually put your family at risk.
  2. Create barriers to prevent rodents from entering the home by closing cracks, using wire mesh along pipes, so that these unwanted visitors will not seek shelter in your home and you will need to use less poison.

Do you have any safety tips that you would like to share with us? We always like to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. 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 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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Tire Crumbs on our Playgrounds

When I was younger I lived only a few blocks away from a large playground. I used to go there with my family and friends to do the ‘usual’ playground activities: run, swing, race the boys on the monkey bars, and ride down the slides into sand, grass, or my personal favorite, concrete. I was, and still am, a very active person and because of this a have acquired my fair share of bumps, bruises, and scars from my exciting playground sessions. Perhaps this is why we are beginning to see a shift in the way in which playgrounds are being constructed.

More and more we are starting to see playgrounds, and playing fields covered in artificial synthetic turf. While there are some benefits to artificial turf, including low-cost maintenance and less potential for injuries, artificial turf may have potential environmental hazards that could overshadow its advantages. The crumb rubber used in artificial turf may include chemicals such as latex and other rubbers, phthalates, and toxic metals.

The EPA has done studies in attempts to uncover the potential harms of artificial turf. So far, the studies have not revealed any hazards of concern. It is suggested, however, that more studies should be done to better understand the potential environmental hazards of artificial synthetic turf.

The two sides of the argument have very strong points, each bringing issues even beyond the health standpoint and into the financial and environmental positions as well. I believe it is appropriate to view the issue as “unresolved.” More research should be done to learn more and make accurate decisions as the whether artificial turf is here to stay or needs to be taken away.

What are your opinions on artificial synthetic turf? Do you play on artificial turf?

About the author: Nicole Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.