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October is Children's Health Month- learn about environmental health risks


Did you know that the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat can affect the way your body grows and works? It’s true. By learning about hazards in the environment (air pollution, pesticides, hazardous wastes, etc), and how they can affect your health, you can take charge of your environment and make a real difference in your life and the lives of your family and friends.

Some of the sites listed on this page are not on the EPA Web site. Please see our disclaimer information Exit EPA Disclaimer

What are environmental health risks and what can you do about them?

Burger and Fries, Please Hold the Smoke
Imagine not being able to breathe comfortably at home or go bowling with your friends—all because of the tobacco smoke (or secondhand smoke) in the air from people around you smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars.

Lead the Charge Against Lead Poisoning
Exercise your mind and learn more about lead, lead poisoning, and ways to prevent it.

Something's Fishy
Mercury is not just a planet. It’s a toxic metal that could end up on your dinner table.

Don't Be Bugged By Pesticides
Bet you didn’t know that even though kids weigh less than adults, they drink more water, eat more food, and breathe more air than adults per pound of body weight. That’s why kids may be exposed to more pesticides than adults.

Carbon Monoxide—Gotta Vent It
Did you know that one of the biggest dangers that may be hanging out in your house is invisible and has almost no smell? We’re talking about carbon monoxide (CO).

Be Cool and Practice Sun Safety
Did you know that you will spend more time in the sun as a child than as an adult? While you enjoy those carefree sunny days, be careful. Too much sun can be bad news!

Cool Games

Air Quality Index
What should you do when the Air Quality Index is orange? Let the chameleons K.C., Koko, and Kool, show you how EPA measures pollution in the air.

Chemicals around your House
What should people always do before they even buy a household product? Take the test and find out how you rate!

Cool Websites

Dusty the Asthma Goldfish and his Asthma Triggers Funbook (PDF) (8pp, 1.3MB) and Dusty La Carpa Dorada del Asma y sus Provocadores del Asma - Revista de Muñequitos (PDF) (8pp, 1.4MB)
A fun book that teaches you about asthma.

Help! It's a Roach!
Is your family bugged by roaches? You're not alone. Although people may think roaches like dirty places, even the cleanest homes can have them.

Say What? Play It Safe With Your Ears. Play It Safe With Your Health.
This is an activity book for older students about noise pollution and its effects on human health. It teaches children how to identify noise pollution and how to minimize its impact on their hearing.

Sunwise Kids
Do you know how to protect yourself from the sun? Here's what to do and why it's important.

Cool Publications

Growth Charts (2004, available in English and Spanish)
Available Format: Hard copy

  • Growth Chart (English) Paper Number: EPA 100-F-04-013
  • Growth Chart (Spanish) Paper Number: EPA 100F-04-012

Instructions for ordering a free copy of this publication from EPA’s National Service Center for Environmental Publications are available at www.epa.gov/ncepi hom/ordering.htm.

Teacher and Parent Resources

EPA Lesson Plans Developed for Children's Health Month 2011

Chemical Safety Resource for Middle School Teachers
(5 pp, 220K, about PDF)
In this lesson students will participate in a chemical survey activity regarding the household chemicals and cleaners used in and around their house. They will conduct a simple survey with parental supervision and answer questions about how many and what kind of chemicals they found. Students will also brainstorm on how chemical safety can prevent pollution at home.
Grades: 5-8
Type of resource:  Lesson Plan

Hold the Mold
(6 pp, 306K, about PDF)
In this lesson, students will learn about the different kinds of mold and how it grows.
They will conduct an experiment to grow and observe the growth of different kinds of food molds
and understand the health effects of mold and how to recognize and prevent mold growth.
Grades: 5-8
Type of Resource: Lesson Plan

Lead Blockers
(6 pp, 272K, about PDF)
In this lesson students will learn about the health effects of lead and through a game of tag.  Students will model the process of certain nutrients that can block lead absorption. As part of the activity, students will brainstorm on ways to prevent lead exposure at home.
Grades: K-8
Type of resource:  Lesson Plan

Mercury Bioaccumulation Tag
(4 pp, 317K, about PDF)
This activity lets students model the processes of bioaccumulation and biomagnification of mercury in an aquatic food chain. Students will understand the health effects of mercury and demonstrate an understanding of how mercury can be present in fish.
Grades: 5-8
Type of resource:  Lesson Plan

Additional Resources

Asthma and upper respiratory illnesses information from EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection.
Grades: adult

Children's Health Protection
In-depth information from EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection about protecting kids from all sorts of environmental hazards.
Grades: adult

A Citizens Guide to Radon
The complete guide to taking action to lower the radon level in your home. It offers strategies for testing and discussions of what steps to take after you have tested, discussions of the risk of radon and radon myths.
Grades: adult
Subtopic: indoor air

Health Effects of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke can cause health problems in children and adults. Read about the risks of environmental tobacco smoke and find links to research studies about the issue.
Grades: 9-12, adult

Help! It's a Roach!
Is your family bugged by roaches? You're not alone. Although people may think roaches like dirty places, even the cleanest homes can have them.
Grades: k-5

Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil
Find information from the National Lead Information Center and pamphlets featuring general information about lead hazards and lead poisoning prevention in the home.
Grades: 9-12

Learn About Chemicals Around Your House
What do you know about the many household products used around your home? Join a house tour to learn more about the chemicals around your home.
Grades: k-5

Information about mercury, its health effects, studies, and what you can do.
Grades: 9-12

Sunwise Schools Program
SunWise Partner Schools sponsor classroom and school-wide activities that raise children's awareness of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation, and simple sun safety practices. For grades K-8. The SunWise Toolkit is free to registered schools.
Grades: k-8

The Ultraviolet Index
Several publications explaining the Ultraviolet Index and steps you can take to minimize the risks from overexposure to the sun's rays. Each is available for reading online and downloading.
Grades: 9-12

Water on Tap: What You Need to Know
Where does your drinking water come from? How is it treated? How do you protect it? This is the place to get the answers to these and other drinking-water questions.
Grades: 9-12

Healthy Environment, Healthy Kids


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