Children’s Health Month: A Challenge for Everyone Every October, since 1928, the first Monday of the month has been proclaimed National Child Health Day by the President of the United States. Starting in 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics went a step further and declared the entire month of October as Children’s Health Month. Whether you’re a parent or grandparent, a childcare provider or teacher, a coach or 4H volunteer, or just a neighbor that has small children living nearby, Children’s Health Month provides an opportunity for all of us to make sure we are taking steps to ensure that the children in our homes and communities have safe and healthy environments to play, learn, and live. Three factors typically increase children’s risk from environmental hazards. First and foremost, young children are still growing and developing. Because their systems are not fully developed, they are not as capable of processing contaminants as adults. Second, children take in more air, water, and food per pound of body weight than the average adult. This means they can take in larger doses of any harmful substances. Finally, children’s behavior increases their risk. Playing on the floor where dust collects and hand-to-mouth contact can allow children to take in contaminants very easily. Take the time this month to consider changes you can make in and around your home and community to protect children. Consider these ideas. Turn off your vehicle engine if you planned to be parked for more than 10 seconds to reduce harmful vehicle emissions. If you smoke, don’t do so around children. Avoid open burning. In Kentucky, it’s illegal to burn household trash other than uncoated paper products. Store pesticides and toxic chemicals where children can't reach them. Also keep these items in their original containers and never put them in other containers that can be mistaken for food or drink. Keep children, toys, and pets away when pesticides are applied (avoid unnecessary pesticide use). Don't let them play in the area applied with pesticides for at least the time recommended on the pesticide label. Properly dispose of all toxic household chemicals. If you are not sure about how to dispose of an item contact your local Solid Waste Coordinator or visit www.earth911.com. Earth911 is a website where you can enter the item you need to dispose of and your zip code. Locations that accept that item for recycling or disposal will then be listed. Let’s all take the time to make sure we are providing a healthy environment for our children. Resources: What You Can Do to Protect Children from Environmental Risks. US EPA. Retrieved on August 9, 2012 from http://yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/content/tips.htm. Children’s Health Month Background Paper. US EPA. Retrieved on August 9, 2012 from http://yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/content/CHM_Background_v3.htm/$File/CHM_Ba ckground_v3.pdf?Open&preview. Ashley Osborne, Extension Associate for Environmental Issues. August 2012.