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How to protect kids during the EPA’s Children’s Health Month

The Environmental Protection Agency is celebrating nationwide Child Health Monthwith shielding tips children from potential health hazards from lead contamination, pesticides on produce and exposure to the sun – some of the EWG’s top priorities.

Because their bodies are still developing, babies and children are much more vulnerable to the health risks that come from exposure to certain chemicals. Children’s exposure to these substances, particularly in drinking water, food and air, can also lead to significant health problems later in children’s lives.

Parents can protect their children’s health by reducing the risk of ingestion of lead or pesticide residues, avoiding personal care products with potentially harmful chemicals, and protecting children from the sun, among other things.

In a tip sheet EPA highlights simple ways to protect our children. Lots of recommendations, including how-to’s sun security, pesticide risks, lead harms and more, repeat EWG’s work to improve the health of the environment, you and your family.

Here are some easy ways to create a healthier home for kids.

Protect children from lead

There is no safe exposure to lead, a serious neurotoxin that can irreversibly lower a child’s IQ, cause learning and behavior problems, impair hearing and slow growth. Children may be exposed to lead in drinking water or lead-contaminated dust in older homes, particularly those built before 1978, when lead was banned for use in house paint. Children’s bodies absorb up to 50 percent of the lead they ingest.

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Young children are more likely to pick up lead in soil or dust because they explore the world with their hands and mouth. So make sure to wash their hands after they play outside.

The EPA recommends having children tested for lead by health care providers or your local health department. For children covered by Medicaid, these tests are required at 12 and 24 months of age. California recently enacted a law Streamlining blood tests for lead levels, a crucial step in identifying how much lead might be in your child’s body.

To reduce the risk of lead in your drinking water, let tap water run until cold for a few minutes and only use cold water for cooking or drinking. The EPA also recommends that childcare facilities and schools, independently or with the assistance of third parties, test their drinking water to identify possible lead problems.

California, which officially declared Child Health Month in October, passed another law designed to help remove lead-contaminated drinking water pipes and faucets from older properties. The EPA suggests that if you live in a home built before 1978, Use a certified EPA-approved renovator for do-it-yourself jobs to ensure any lead that may be in your home is removed. Avoid disturbing Lead paint, unless it’s peeling or you’re renovating your house.

Later this month, from October 23 to October 29, the EPAs National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week calls “Individuals, organizations, industry and tribal, state and local governments to reduce lead exposure in children by raising awareness of lead poisoning prevention.”

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Providing a pesticide-free diet

Pesticides on growing plants can remain on produce and pose a risk to your family’s health. To help you avoid this exposure, the EPA suggests scrubbing all your fruits and vegetables under cold running water.

Choosing organic products is a great way to reduce exposure to toxic pesticides. Parents can refer to EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ for guidance. Our Clean Fifteen™ The list includes products with the lowest levels of pesticide residues, which are okay to buy non-organic when organic isn’t an option. 2022 Clean Fifteen features avocados, pineapple and frozen sweet peas. fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen™ List is best to buy organic whenever possible.

Avoidance of unsafe products

To keep children healthy, they need to be protected from hazardous household and personal care products. Therefore, keep toxic household chemicals, including pesticides, out of the reach of children and never in containers that children may mistake for food or drink.

When shopping for household and consumer products, be sure to consult the EWG Leader to products free of toxic chemicals. That EEC VERIFIED™ The label on products shows you which are free of EEC Chemicals of Concern and meet our strictest health standards.

You can also consult the EPAs Safer choice Program criteria for children, school and environment. EWG uses the program’s Safer Chemical Ingredients List to develop our criteria for independent product evaluations, as ingredients have been assessed for their potential risks and found not to be harmful.

Stay safe in the sun

The EPA says healthy activities for your kids include spending time outdoors — going for walks, bike rides, gardening, and spending time at the beach.

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Encouraging your children to play outside is great, but it’s also important to avoid overexposure to harmful ultraviolet or UV rays. It can lead to blisters or sore skin, which can increase the risk of skin cancer. Infants should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible as it affects their skin not yet protected by melanin.

The EWG and EPA agree that protection from the sun includes applying sunscreen liberally to children over six months of age and wearing sunscreen clothing for all children: wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and pants. Try to limit sun exposure between 10am and 4pm when the UV index is highest.

Not all sunscreens are the same. Some exaggerate their SPF levels and others contain potentially harmful chemicals. The EWG recommends using sunscreen with SPF 50+ or ​​lower. Check The latest EWG guide to sunscreen products to find a product that protects your family so your kids can have fun in the sun.

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