Protecting Kids from Environmental Exposure

Posted on by Blog Administrator

children playing in a parkWhat do these scenarios have in common?

  • You’re renovating an older home. While you’re sanding window frames, some paint chips fall on the floor. Your toddler puts them in his mouth.
  • You enjoy gardening and use pesticides to protect your plants from insects. You’ve just learned that you’re pregnant and wonder if pesticide exposure could harm your unborn child.

If you said that in both scenarios, children may be exposed to harmful substances in the environment, you are right!

Children are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants due to

  1. Their size; from birth, children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food per pound of body weight than adults.
  2. Their rapid development during the fetal period through early childhood and during puberty
  3. Their age-appropriate behaviors, like crawling and playing on the floor or putting everything in their mouths

But has your child’s pediatrician ever talked to you about environmental exposures? Has your obstetrician ever taken an environmental history? An environmental history is necessary for healthcare providers to understand patients’ exposure risks and provide guidance on how to reduce them. However, most healthcare providers do not receive training on the process during their medical education.

The good news is that environmental health experts in Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs) throughout North America are committed to protecting children from exposure to harmful substances from the earliest stages of development before birth throughout childhood. Beginning in 1998, ATSDR and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have built a national network of PEHSUs at leading academic medical centers across the country.

PEHSU professionals provide environmental health education and medical consultation for healthcare professionals in reproductive and pediatric medicine and in medical and nursing programs.

To learn more about PEHSUs and read success stories about their work, see the PEHSU feature: Protecting Kids from Environmental Exposure

Posted on by Blog Administrator

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Page last reviewed: October 16, 2015
Page last updated: October 16, 2015