Educational Resources & Activities

By Carly Carroll

Going into classrooms and sharing environmental has always been my favorite part of being an environmental educator. One of my favorite experiences was participating in EPA’s Science Day at an elementary school in North Carolina. The teachers and students were always so happy to open their doors and let EPA scientists and community volunteers come in and share a hands-on activity with them. My favorite activities were those that really got the students involved and doing something – like measuring how much electricity various appliances used, or measuring lung capacity and learning about air quality. Seeing these activities lead to teachers asking if EPA had any resources they could use in to bring more environmental science into their classrooms. The answer is yes!

In addition to what EPA has already developed in the past, The Office of Environmental Education is working with various program offices to develop resources highlighting upcoming important issues and monthly themes.

  • October is Children’s Health Month! Check out our series of resources and activities on protecting children’s health at home and at school!
  • Students can learn how to protect their own health with activities on lead, mold, and indoor air quality.
  • All of EPA’s student and teacher resources are in one easy place! Check out the recently updated Students and Teachers page for games, factsheets, teacher resources, activities, and more!

About the author: Carly Carroll is an Environmental Education Specialist with EPA’s Office of Environmental Education in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the office in 2011, she worked as a Student Services Contractor at EPA in Research Triangle Park, assisting with environmental education and outreach.

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.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

ACE Is The Place For Children’s Environmental Health Indicators

By Greg Miller

This is the report that drew me to EPA 10 years ago. I was a recent graduate from University of Michigan’s School of Public Health when I saw a job posting for work on environmental health policy. I had no idea what a unique opportunity I was being given.

On my first day at EPA I got to work on America’s Children and the Environment – fondly known as “ACE”. It is a report of children’s environmental health indicators. Like many people at the time, I had very little understanding of what indicators were. Since that day ten years ago, indicators of health and welfare have spread across the government as a means of providing summary information on status and trends. Our children’s environmental health indicators help us answer important questions, such as: how many children live in areas where air pollution levels are of concern? Are we continuing to make progress in reducing childhood blood lead levels? How has the prevalence of childhood asthma changed in recent years?

This year at EPA, we are preparing a new edition of America’s Children and the Environment. ACE, Third Edition will provide quantitative information from a variety of sources to show trends in environmental contaminants in air, drinking water, food, and soil; concentrations of contaminants measured in the bodies of mothers and children; and childhood health outcomes that may be influenced by environmental factors, such as asthma. New indicators will show the percentage of children in homes with lead dust hazards; biomonitoring data for phthalates and bisphenol A; and percentage of babies born preterm. We hope that people will use the report to better understand the environmental health challenges faced by children in the U.S. Furthermore, we hope the report will be a useful tool for policy makers to identify and address children’s health issues in their communities.

I doubt this blog post adequately conveys my excitement about this report. Working on children’s environmental health indicators is an absolute privilege, and I am endlessly thankful to the American public for allowing me this opportunity. If you share even one nanogram of my excitement, please visit the America’s Children and the Environment website to see our current indicators. You can also sign up to receive updates by email about any new information posted to the website and updates on the development of ACE3.

About the author: Greg Miller works on the ACE report in EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection.

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.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Why Is My Child Sick?

By Kara Belle

In 2002, we moved from Texas to Atlanta with my perfectly healthy 8-month old. Within a month, my daughter was in the hospital, face flush, lips blue, high fever and straining for every breath. The doctors would treat her, we would go home, and two to three weeks later we would be back to the emergency room for the same thing. It got so bad my daughter’s pediatrician requested that I remove my daughter from day care for six weeks so that her body would have time to heal and recover. My mom kept my daughter in her home during this time and miraculously she had no breathing problems, no fever, and looked great. I brought her home and within hours she was ill. This was my ah-ha moment. It was my apartment! Upon close inspection, I found mold underneath sinks and around windows in my apartment. I also recounted the numerous times her daycare would flood during heavy rains. In addition, we lived a stone’s throw from a major interstate. I later learned outdoor pollutants like emissions from cars, factories, and power plants can contribute to asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.

My daughter was diagnosed with asthma but no one ever sent me home with tips on what environmental exposures may be triggering her asthma and respiratory infections. I can’t tell you how much I have learned since then. I bought books, searched the Internet, talked to other moms and found some really great information on asthma triggers and allergens both indoors and outdoors. I don’t want other parents or caregivers to go through an arduous and unnecessary learning curve as I did.

Most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of working with your child’s doctor to help create an Asthma Action Plan to prevent future asthma attacks. This is an essential preventative step toward managing asthma. Although, there is no cure for asthma yet, asthma can be controlled through medical treatment and management of environmental triggers. Had I known about the Asthma Action Plan earlier, my sweet baby girl would not have had to suffer needlessly as she did.

I always try to share my story with other parents who are becoming sadly aware of the asthma epidemic. Please join me and share your story. The more we talk about the importance of a healthy environment the better we can champion children’s health as parents, as a community, and as a nation.

About the author: Kara Belle works in the Office of Children’s Health Protection

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.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Children's Health in Indian Country

By Margo Young

As a mom of two young children I relate to any parent or caregiver trying to create a healthy environment for children to thrive and grow. As a public health worker in the field of children’s health protection, I am also acutely aware that the environments we raise our children in this country are vastly different from neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city, state to state, and that these differences impact the health and well-being of our children.

This is especially true in Indian Country. While many Native American populations maintain intricate and ecologically interdependent relationships with the natural environment, these relationships have been impacted by environmental pollution, changes in subsistence lifestyles and political isolation, which threaten the health, wellness, and way of life of tribal communities. In light of Children’s Health Month, it is appropriate to highlight these differences, but also embrace the common goal of protecting our most vulnerable populations of children.

Children often bear a disproportionate impact from environmental contaminants. Living conditions, walkable communities, access to play areas and health care and limited resources are some of the challenges that tribal communities face in addressing environmental health issues. American Indian and Alaska Native children are more than twice as likely to suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases and are more likely to be hospitalized from these chronic conditions. These illnesses can be caused or exacerbated by substandard housing conditions and poor indoor air quality, including mold and moisture, wood burning, the use of pesticides and other chemicals, smoking and inadequate ventilation. Fixing and addressing these problems can prevent certain life-long impacts on children.

The good news is that there are many actions we can take to address these issues and make homes and communities healthier for children. You can find information and tips on improving indoor air quality in tribal communities from EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tribal Partners Program. Protecting the health of children is a compelling motivation to improve our environment — during Children’s Health Month and throughout the year. Take the initiative now and find out what you can do to improve children’s health.

About the Authors: Margo Young lives in Seattle and is the Region 10 Children’s Environmental Health and Environmental Education Coordinator and has been with EPA for over 5 years.

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.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

From Railroad Lines and Landfills to Running Trails and Playgrounds: Exercise for the Whole Family Right in Your Own Backyard

By Melissa Greer Dreyfus

As the oppressive heat of summer is now fading into fall, I am able to take more time to actually enjoy my surroundings in the great outdoors during my weekend runs. (This is in contrast to summer outdoor running, where my goal is to make it to the next drinking fountain without over-heating.) I’ve always enjoyed trail running as a means to escape some of the traffic and intensity of living in the Nation’s Capitol area. I’ve had the opportunity to test out several of the great scenic running/biking trails in the area including the Mount Vernon Trail, Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Trail, Rock Creek Park Trail, Rock Creek Trail and Capital Crescent Trail.

Amazingly, the Capital Crescent Trail and thousands of miles of other trail systems across the country were constructed along old railroad routes. The Capital Crescent Trail follows the route of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Georgetown Branch rail line. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a non-profit organization that is “dedicated to assisting local communities in converting unused railroad corridors into trails”. There are many trails not only in the DC Metro area, but across the country. Trail information is accompanied by local resources such as hotels, to plan a complete getaway virtually anywhere in the U.S.

Not only can you exercise on former railroad routes converted to trails, but land reuse options also encourage a variety of community recreation activities.  The Superfund Redevelopment Program at EPA is helping communities return some of the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites to safe and productive uses. Along with cleaning up these Superfund sites and making them protective of human health and the environment, the Agency is working with communities and other partners in considering future use opportunities and integrating appropriate reuse options into the cleanup process. Communities across the country now have areas such as recreational model airplane flying fields, open space, athletic fields soccer, football and baseball, playgrounds, and equestrian trails on land previously contaminated and unavailable for public use.

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are critical for combating the obesity epidemic among children in this country. By providing a variety of fun activities, and exercising as a family, we can lead a healthy lifestyle and set a good example for kids to follow as they grow. Along with the great sight-seeing, these trails and recreation facilities offer excellent options for outdoor activity close to home at little to no cost.

Grab your friends and family and explore options for outdoor activities in your own backyard!

About the author: Melissa Greer Dreyfus is an Environmental Health Scientist in the Community Involvement and Program Initiatives Branch in EPA’s Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation in Arlington, VA.

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.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Science Wednesday:Children’s Health and Sustaining Our Future

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Paul Anastas, Ph.D.

Last week, I had the pleasure of conducting a green chemistry experiment with some students who joined me at the Marian Koshland Science Museum here in Washington, DC. We were helping to kick off events leading up to the USA Science and Engineering Festival that will take place on the National Mall October 23 and 24.

The festival organizers could not have picked a more appropriate time to celebrate science and engineering in a way that will spark kid’s interest. October is Children’s Health Month, a time to reflect on the importance of building a sustainable society for our children.

There was a time when it was commonly assumed that the lives of one generation would be no different than the lives of the next—that the status quo would be maintained. Over time, however, people came to understand that we could work to make our children’s lives even better than our own.

It was advancements in science and technology that catalyzed this change in thinking. But it turned out it was not so simple. We now know that many of the same technologies and advancements that were meant to improve the lives of future generations were also adversely impacting the environment, and could even have unintended consequences on children.

Children’s Health Month is an opportune time to ask ourselves a vital question: have we incorporated an understanding of these unintended consequences into the design of new products and technologies?

Today we have the opportunity to couple our expertise in understanding the problems we face with an ability to design next-generation chemicals that reduce hazard. The principles of green chemistry give us this opportunity.

We must combine the best of our intellect and action to design a tomorrow that is sustainable for our children.  We must direct our highest degree of knowledge toward producing products and technologies that won’t impair reproduction or development.

It’s time to bring all we have to bear on the design of a sustainable tomorrow. There is no better time to start than Children’s Health Month.

About the author: Paul T. Anastas is the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. At the time President Barrack Obama nominated him to, Anastas was the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment at Yale University.

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.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Children’s Health Month – How are you Celebrating?

fall-leaves.2By Stacy Murphy

October brings to mind different images for different people: bright fall colors; crispy nights,  packing away summer clothes and pulling out jackets and sweaters. But to me it also means one more important thing: Children’s Health Month.

Children’s health is my #1 priority and the reason that I come to work every day.  Indoor and environmental air quality is a big health issue for kids, since they spend most of their time indoors. Even normal outdoor kid activities, like sports or playing outside, can expose them to many environmental health hazards.

Here in Region 6 we have a lot of great Children’s Health Month programs planned, including our showcase event where a cross-agency team will provide education on pesticide safety and asthma management to migrant farm worker families at Dia de los Migrantes in San Juan, Texas.

But you don’t have to be an “expert” to carry the message of protecting kids from harm to your community. That’s the beauty of the Children’s Health Program. Anyone can take action to promote children’s health. For example, you could provide local organizations, like non-profits or faith-based groups, with information about how kids are affected by indoor and environmental air quality. You can access educational materials for free on the Children’s Health Month section of the EPA website.

Although October is officially Children’s Health Month, EPA really works to protect children’s health year-round. For example, the IAQ Tools for Schools program supports children in schools by maintaining safe and healthy learning environments, which can significantly impact achievement. Each January the IAQ Tools for Schools National Symposium provides an amazing opportunity to learn strategies and tactics to improve student and staff health, as well as reduce absenteeism, increase student and staff performance and enhance community relations. Everyone from the IAQ novice to national experts can benefit from attending the symposium. I’ll be there and I hope to see you there too.

About the author: Stacy Murphy joined EPA in 2005 and currently serves as the Schools Coordinator for EPA Region 6 where he manages programs to improve school indoor environments, including IAQ Tools for Schools and the Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (S3C).

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.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Nothing Says “Fun” Like Standardized Tests: Creating Healthy Environments to Help Students Succeed

By Cathy Davis

When I was about eight years old, I actually loved standardized tests. (Trust me, I know that’s strange.) My dad developed the student assessment program for the state board of education. He loved his job, and I loved hearing about it, so I loved standardized tests. He used to tell me about all the different factors outside a student’s innate ability that could affect their scores: having nutritious meals, family stability and support, family income, having a safe place to study and read, and so many other social and economic factors.

What I’ve learned since then is that there is growing evidence that the environment where children learn can also affect their achievement (see Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits ). When schools have good indoor air quality, safe chemicals management programs (including pesticides and other chemicals), safe drinking water, and well-maintained facilities, the students are better learners. They don’t miss as much school, and it’s easier for them to pay attention when they’re in school. But many school buildings contain environmental conditions that may inhibit learning and pose increased risks to the health of children and staff.

Creating healthy school environments can seem like a daunting task. There are over 120,000 schools in the country, and there are many potential environmental hazards. But I think the benefits to children’s health now and their success in the future far outweigh the short-term cost and effort. EPA has many programs and tools that parents, teachers, and school administrators can use to improve the environmental health of schools. So here’s my question to you, which of these programs (or similar programs run by your state or community) are you going to put into action to make your community’s schools healthier places to learn?

Learn how you to promote healthy communities for healthy children, during Children’s Health Month and every month, at www.epa.gov/children.

About the author: Cathy Davis works on healthy schools and other children’s environmental health issues in EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection. She comes from a family of educators (and a couple of lawyers).

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.


Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids

By Kathy Seikel

Research shows links between chemical exposures during fetal development and health outcomes. As a DES offspring, I am a case in point. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic estrogen developed to supplement a woman’s natural estrogen production. First prescribed by physicians in 1938, and used extensively in the 1950s, DES was prescribed to prevent miscarriages or premature birth. At the time, it was considered safe and effective both for the pregnant woman and the developing baby.

Thirty years of research have proven that health risks are associated with DES exposure — including risks for the offspring (what scientists now call “trans-generational effects”). In the case of DES daughters, one of these health effects is infertility.

I am blessed with three gorgeous, healthy and thriving children. I came to motherhood through adoption –not my original plan. My medical history and my work at EPA give me a heightened appreciation for the importance of reducing our children’s exposure to potentially toxic chemicals – beginning in the womb and all the way into adulthood.

There’s a lot we can do to minimize our children’s exposure to environmental contaminants – starting right in our own homes! Did you know that children can spend about 90% of time indoors and that indoor pollution sources can create unhealthy conditions for children? And did you know that prenatal exposure to pollutants can increase the risk of low birth weight, pre-term delivery, infant mortality and developmental disabilities?

So what’s a mother to do? First of all, don’t smoke at home or allow anyone who visits to smoke inside your home. Reduce pesticide use by following a prevention-based approach to pest management that focuses on non-chemical control measures such as eliminating the food, water, entry points and harborage that pests need to survive. Make sure your house is properly ventilated. Open the windows and let the fresh air in now that summer’s heat wave is over! Find out how to identify – and eliminate — environmental hazards in your home by reading “Help Yourself to a Healthy Home.”

Learn how you to promote healthy communities for healthy children, during Children’s Health Month and every month, at www.epa.gov/children

About the author: Kathy Seikel is a senior program analyst with EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection where she coordinates EPA’s participation in the Federal Interagency Work Group on Healthy Homes.

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.


Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Stopping The Secondhand Smoke Blues

I recently traveled to a large city and while there I tried to take it all in – the food, sightseeing attractions, and the people. Unfortunately another thing I took in while visiting was all of the secondhand smoke on the crowded streets. At first, I didn’t realize the number of people smoking until I got back to my room and still smelled smoke. My clothes and hair had utterly absorbed it! Now you’re probably thinking that because I’m from Indiana and a smaller city than most, I wouldn’t really have a clue what big cities and people smoking all the time would be like. And while that has been true, I also find that here in Washington, D.C., I don’t really have a problem breathing fresh air either. So it truly was a surprise to me to experience such a ‘smoky’ city. I also grew up in a household where my parents did not smoke. I think that this is one of the greatest gifts I have been given by my parents and in doing so, they raised me not to smoke either. Not that I would have had any say in the matter as a child, but growing up in a smoke free household was a gift to my health and overall well-being. For this reason, smoke free homes are essential for children today. While you can’t really avoid secondhand smoke walking on the street in public, it makes it even more essential to have a house that children can go home to where they can easily breathe. Children spend the majority of their time at home and therefore it is extremely important to have a smoke free home. Children’s bodies aren’t as developed and their lungs can be brutally affected by exposure to second hand smoke. They have higher breathing rates than adults and have little control over their indoor environments. Choosing not to smoke in your house will reduce the risk of children getting sick with coughs, breathing problems like asthma, and developing ear infections. In honor of Children’s Health Month, you can take a pledge to make your home and your car smoke-free and get your very own pledge certificate. You can also read helpful information and read more about health effects. By making your home smoke free your children will thank you for it later! And you can be proud of yourself as well!

About the Author: Emily Bruckmann is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a senior attending Indiana University who will graduate with a degree in public health this spring.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.