242805 Protecting children's environmental health in early learning environments: A comprehensive investigation of statutory requirements, recommended guidelines, and facility-specific exposures

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 2:30 PM

Gwendolyn N. Hudson, PhD, MPH, CPH , Office of Children's Health Protection, ASPH/EPA Fellow, Washington, DC
Gregory G. Miller , Office of Children's Health Protection, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Brenda Foos, MEM , Office of Children's Health Protection, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Protecting children's environmental health is an essential part of promoting public health. Outside the womb, children continue to grow and develop between 0 and 5 years of age. Compared to adults and adolescents, children are frequently the most vulnerable lifestage to certain environmental exposures. This is primarily due to higher drinking water intake (per body weight), air to volume breathing ratio, and behaviors such as hand-to-mouth motions and contact with surfaces. Children within this age range spend a great deal of time in early learning environments (ELEs), such as child care centers, family day care homes, and other preschool facilities. At this time there are no mandatory federal regulations specific to ELEs that consistently regulate these facilities across all municipalities. Because state and local governments have the right to independently license and regulate these facilities, there are no consistent requirements for protecting children against environmental hazards found in these settings. State and local governments can therefore vary greatly with not only how they regulate ELEs but also how they prioritize certain environmental hazards. The purpose of this project is to identify the different types of ELEs, their specific environmental exposures and the regulations in place that seek to mitigate these hazards with the goal of providing recommendations to better protect children's environmental health nationwide. It is anticipated that ELEs found in residential environments will have exposures most similar to family homes; whereby facilities in more commercial-like buildings are most similar to schools and businesses. Federal and other stakeholder guidelines, state licensing laws and regulations, and current scientific literature are also investigated to ascertain which environmental hazards are currently recognized by state laws, determine potential gaps in knowledge, and identify the most important needs for protecting children's environmental health in the various ELE settings.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Differentiate between the various types of early learning environments, and the environmental exposures specific to each type of setting. 2. List potential early learning environment stakeholders. 3. Identify available federal and other guidelines that currently protect children against environmental hazards in early learning settings. 4. List environmental exposures currently targeted by state early learning environment licensing laws and regulations. 5. Discuss gaps in knowledge and recommendations for improving children’s environmental health in early learning settings.

Keywords: Children's Health, EPA

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am the primary person responsible for this research, and I have worked as a licensed child care investigator.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.