Content Current as of Apr 18, 2014
Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health
5.1 Overall Requirements
An environmental audit should be conducted before construction of a new building; renovation or occupation of an older building; or after a natural disaster, to properly evaluate and, where necessary, remediate or avoid sites where children’s health could be compromised (1,3).
The environmental audit should include assessments of:
- Potential air, soil, and water contamination on child care facility sites and outdoor play spaces;
- Potential toxic or hazardous materials in building construction; and
- Potential safety hazards in the community surrounding the site.
A written environmental audit report that includes any remedial action taken should be kept on file.
Evaluation of potential health and safety risks associated with the physical site location of a child care facility will identify any remedial action required or whether the site should be avoided if children’s health could be compromised.
Children are much more vulnerable to exposures of contaminated environmental media materials than adults because their bodies are developing; they eat more, drink more, and breathe more in proportion to their body size; and their behavior, such as crawling and hand-to-mouth activity, can expose them more to chemicals (4).
Awareness of remedial action required or sites to avoid will reduce exposure to conditions that cause injury or adversely affect health.
Epidemiological studies indicate a relationship between outdoor air pollution and adverse respiratory effects on children (2). Research suggests that exposure to air pollution is a function of proximity to roadways (5-7).
The soil in play areas should not contain hazardous levels of any toxic chemical or substance. Soil contaminated with toxic materials can poison children. For example, ensuring that soil in play areas is free of dangerous levels of lead helps prevent lead poisoning (8-10).
Existing buildings may contain potentially toxic or hazardous construction materials (e.g., lead paint, asbestos) that may be released during renovation work. Assessing the presence of such materials enables the management of potential exposures through removal, containment, or by other means (11).
Potential safety hazards in the community surrounding the site location of a child care facility may include:
- Proximity to hazardous industrial air emissions;
- Proximity to toxic or hazardous substances in adjacent or nearby property;
- Proximity to transportation hazards (e.g., local automobile traffic, major roadways, airports, railroads);
- Proximity to utilities (e.g., drinking water reservoirs or storage tanks, electrical sub-stations, high-voltage power transmission lines, pressurized gas transmission lines);
- Proximity to explosive or flammable products (e.g., propane tanks).
Possible options for reducing exposure to potential safety hazards in the community may include:
- Locating the site of a child care facility at a safe distance from the hazard; and/or
- Providing a physical barrier to prevent children from being exposed to the safety hazards (e.g., fencing).
TYPE OF FACILITY:
Small Family Child Care Home, Center, Large Family Child Care Home
- Etzel, R. A., S. J. Balk, eds. 2004. Pediatric environmental health. 2nd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health. 2004. Policy statement: Ambient air pollution: Health hazards to children. Pediatrics 114:1699-1707.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. Siting of school facilities. http://cfpub.epa.gov/schools/top_sub.cfm?t_id=45&s_id=64/.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Human health risk assessment. http://www.epa.gov/risk/health-risk.htm.
- Boothe V. L., D. G. Shendell. 2008. Potential health effects associated with residential proximity to freeways and primary roads: Review of scientific literature, 1999-2006. J Environmental Health 70:33-41, 55-56.
- Zhou Y., J. I. Levy. 2007. Factors influencing the spatial extent of mobile source air pollution impacts: A meta-analysis. BMC Public Health 7:89. http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/
- Zhua Y., W. C. Hinds, S. Kim, S. Shen, C. Sioutas. 2002. Study of ultrafine particles near a major highway with heavy-duty diesel traffic. Atmospheric Environment 36:4323–35.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. The lead-safe certified guide to renovate right. http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovaterightbrochure.pdf.
- Burke, P., J. Ryan. 2001. Providing solutions for a better tomorrow: Reducing the risks associated with lead in soil. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/600f01014/600f01014.pdf.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2005. Preventing lead poisoning in young children. Atlanta, GA: CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/publications/prevleadpoisoning.pdf.
- Fiene, R. 2002. 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/ccquality-ind02/.