Environmental Health Hazards and Children
The following section is designed to encourage children to take a closer look at their environments and how it affects them directly. We have discussed the food chain and how everything relates to one another. People are an important part of the chain and what we do to our environment can affect our health. By protecting our environment we are going to be healthier. This portion of the unit will be a guide for students to see what they can do in their homes , schools and communities to ensure better health and safer environments.
Toxic chemicals are found in all our homes. The most dangerous toxic chemicals found in your home are cleaners, pesticides, and solvents. The best alternative is to use non-toxic substitutes that will be safer to our environment and cause fewer health problems.
1) Read the labels of these product in your home with your parents. Discuss with them the best way to store and dispose these products. Try to use as many alternative non-toxic substances. (See alternatives mentioned earlier) If you have younger brothers or sisters, it is extremely important to keep these products out of their reach.
2) Post telephone numbers of your local poison control center near you phone in case of an emergency.
3) Always were long sleeved latex gloves when using toxic chemicals and before removing them wash them with soap and water.
Pesticides Pesticides are poisons used to kill pests. Many farmers use pesticides on their crops. Most pesticides disappear but the traces of pesticides that remain on crops are called pesticide residue. (Remember Rachel Carson). What can you do about pesticides?
1) Always wash your fruits and vegetables before eating.
2) If purchasing pesticides at home, buy only EPA registered products.
3) Before using pesticides outside, remove children’s toys.
4) When using pesticides outside, children and pets should stay inside, with windows shut.
5) Remove all clothing after applying pesticides and wash separately.
Pesticides are graded according to their toxicity .
Least harmful, but can be lethal to small children.
Use extreme caution.
Should be use only by professionals.
Finally, if an accident should happen, call your poison control number.
Most smoke detectors contain the radioactive element americium. When purchasing a new smoke detector get an ionization detector. It contains no hazardous radioactive material.
Reduce your use of batteries whenever possible. Batteries contain mercury, a chemical that is toxic. Use rechargeable batteries.
Unbleached paper products
Recycled paper is made pure white by a bleaching process.This process produces hazardous waste. Dioxin is a toxic chemical created during the bleaching process. When possible use unbleached paper products because they are less harmful to the environment.
Lead is a highly toxic trace mineral and can be very hazardous to your health. When lead enters the body it can cause permanent damage. Lead is more damaging to children than it is to adults. Lead can be found in drinking water, lead-based paints, pottery, motor vehicle exhaust, dust and in the soil around your home. The only way to know if you have lead in your drinking water is to have it tested.
You can avoid lead in your drinking water by never using the hot water to prepare food , instant soup, hot cocoa or other beverages. Always use cold water for drinking and cooking. Be sure to let the water run for several seconds before using.
If your home was built before 1950 there is a good chance that lead from the exterior paint has seeped into the soil. Keep your yard well vegetated to minimize exposure to the dust. Clean floors , window sills and other surfaces regularly. Make sure that there are no old toys or pieces of furniture that may contain lead paint. Always practice good hygiene, especially frequent hand washing.
Activity # 9
Have students write a letter to their local health department to find out what is being done to address the issue of health risks which may be caused by lead in their environment. Provide students with appropriate addresses.
East Shore Waste Water Treatment Plant
345 East Shore Parkway
New Haven, Ct.
New Haven Regional Water Authority
90 Sargent Drive
New Haven, Ct. 06511