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The Children’s Environmental Health Network: Protecting Preschoolers from Radon

The Children’s Environmental Health Network: Protecting Preschoolers from Radon

Although most U.S. children under age six spend up to 40 hours a week in child care settings, little has been done to protect young children from environmental health hazards like radon in child care and preschools. The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) is a national, multidisciplinary, non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the fetus and the child from environmental hazards and promote a healthy environment by focusing on the areas of research, policy, and education. Recognizing preschools and child care settings as a missed opportunity to address children’s environmental health. In response, CEHN launched the Georgia Healthy Environments for Child Care Facilities and Preschools (HECCP) program in 2006.

Building on a successful pilot program in Alameda and Contra counties in California, CEHN launched the Atlanta, Georgia HECCP project to train and educate child care providers and administrators on creating healthier and safe environments with emphasis on the indoor environment. Funded by the Office of Air and Radiation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Georgia HECCP provides specific focus on air quality and radon education. The assessment and training program developed enables child care providers and administrators to:
• Understand children's vulnerabilities to radon and air toxic exposures;

• Identify air toxic hazards in and around child care facilities;

• Determine methods to alleviate and remove radon and other indoor air hazards;

• Develop communication and identification strategies for parents to reduce indoor air health risks at home; and

• Obtain up-to-date information answering questions about radon, indoor air and overall environmental health safety in their facilities from local, state, and national organizations.

The core of the training curriculum includes 15 modules on topics such as radon, safer cleaning, air quality, pesticides, lead, mercury, plastics, and indoor mold. CEHN worked with a wide range of partners to provide the training program, including:
Government - the GA Radon Program, GA Departments of Early Care and Learning and Department of Community Affairs , U.S. EPA Region IV Office, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided technical assistance and assisted in the training sessions.

Providers – the GA Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies helped promote the trainings to their members. Quality Care for Children Child Care Resource and Referral of Metro Atlanta provided staff support to schedule and advertise the trainings along with outreach to area offices.

IndustryAirChek donated 500 test kits, two for each trainee

Advocate – The Association of Occupational & Environmental Clinics (AOEC) and Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) provided technical support and expertise as members of the GA HECCP Task Force.

As a result of the initiative, 293 GA child care professionals have been trained at 54 facilities, including a separate training for Quality Care for Children Child Care Resource & Referral staff. Training evaluations demonstrate that over three-quarters (77 percent) of program participants rated the training as “great” or “excellent” and 89 percent of participants indicated they “agree” or “strongly agree” that the training was applicable to their professional interests/responsibilities. As a result of this success, CEHN secured funding in 2007 to expand the program into Washington, DC in 2007, and in 2008 to Texas. CEHN has trained over 400 child care professionals in over 75 facilities around the nation, and is poised for further expansion of HECCP in 2009 as work begins to launch a national program.

CEHN’s radon toolkit http://www.cehn.org/cehn/education/radon_toolkit.html is also available in Spanish.

Child care providers, administrators and families can order discounted radon test kits at http://www.radon.com/sub/cehn/

If you would like to learn more about the HECCP Program please contact CEHN at (202) 543-4033 ext. 12 or cehn@cehn.org