Children’s health has been on the national agenda since 1928, when Congress designated the first Monday in October as national Child Health Day. In 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics established the month of October as Child Health Month, and this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is observing Children’s Health Month by focusing attention on environmental health hazards children face.
Throughout the month of October, roundtable discussions and educational events will take place across the country, giving parents, teachers and caregivers opportunities to learn about environmental issues that affect children and steps that can be taken to help keep them healthy.
Studies show that children are more susceptible to environmental contaminants than adults are. Their systems are still developing and relative to their size, children eat more food, drink more water, and breathe more air than adults do. In addition, children’s normal activities, such as putting their hands in their mouths or playing on the ground, can result in greater exposure to environmental contaminants.
The World Health Organization estimates that fully one third of all childhood disease in the world is due to environmental contaminants. Cancer is now the second leading cause of death in children in the U.S. ages 1-14 and studies have linked parental and childhood exposures to pesticides and radiation with the development of some cancers in children.
The good news, according to the EPA, is that there are ways caregivers, parents and communities can reduce or prevent children’s exposure to harmful environmental contaminants. More information and helpful tips are available on the EPA website
and in the online publication “Healthy Communities for Healthy Children.”