As many across the globe adopt more eco-friendly lifestyles, protecting the environment remains a top priority. The popularity of hybrid cars continues to rise while more and more communities are recycling and reusing. Each of those things is an effort to decrease carbon footprint and protect the environment from human behaviors that can be harmful to the planet.
But what about protecting kids from the environment? According to the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Children's Health Protection, children might be especially vulnerable to adverse contaminants in the environment. That's because a child's bodily system is still developing, and kids eat more, drink more and breathe more in proportion to their body size. In addition, kid's behaviors can expose them to more chemicals and organisms. But parents can protect their kids from potentially harmful environmental factors in a number of ways.
Help kids breathe easier
One of the best ways parents can protect kids is to take steps to help them breathe easier. By doing the following, parents can do just that.
* Quit smoking.
* Quit smoking in the home or in the car.
* Keep the home clean, routinely removing dust and mold.
* Eliminate pet dander, which can trigger asthma attacks and allergies, around the house.
* Monitor ozone levels and keep kids indoors on ozone alert days when air pollution is high.
* Reduce motor vehicle idling.
Protect kids from lead poisoning
Lead poisoning is another environmental factor that puts kids at risk. The United States banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978, but homes built prior to 1978 were not under restrictions. That means lead exposure is still a possibility in older homes, so parents should take the following safety measures to ensure their kids aren't at risk.
* Have homes built before 1978 tested for lead paint.
* Have kids' blood tested for lead. These tests can detect high levels of lead and are most important for children between the ages of 1 and 2. Levels of lead in a child's blood typically increase rapidly from six to 12 months of age and often peak somewhere between 18 and 24 months.
* Wash children's hands before they eat, and be sure to wash bottles, pacifiers and toys thoroughly and often.
* Wash windows and window sills to protect kids from dust and peeling paint contaminated with lead.
Protect kids from CO poisoning
Carbon monoxide poses a significant threat to adults and children alike. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Parents can help kids avoid falling victim to CO poisoning in a variety of ways.
* Have fuel-burning appliances, furnace flues and chimneys professionally inspected once a year. If any problems arise, address them immediately.
* Never use gas ovens or burners for heat.
* Never use barbecues or grills indoors or in the garage.
* Never allow kids to sleep in rooms with unvented gas or kerosene space heaters.
* Do not run cars or lawnmowers in the garage.
* Install CO detectors throughout the home, inspecting each detector at least once a year.
Protect kids from the sun
Overexposure to the sun is another environmental risk that can prove harmful to kids.
* When kids are going out in the sun, make sure they are wearing hats, sunglasses and protective clothing.
* If visiting the beach or spending ample time outdoors during the warmer months, always apply a sunscreen with a minimum SPF, or sun protection factor, of 15.
* Keep infants out of direct sunlight.
* Minimize the amount of time kids spend in the midday sun, typically between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is most intense.
More information about protecting kids from the environment is available at www.epa.gov.