October is Children’s Health Month!

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Posted on October 29th, 2012 by Kelly Lowery in Consumers

Kelly Over, our Education Program Assistant, wrote this week’s blog. She helps coordinate our outreach educational programming.

Keeping children safe and healthy should always be a top priority. This blog highlights the importance of protecting children around the home, including pest prevention, pesticide safety, and even Halloween safety tips!

Why are children more susceptible to environmental risks than adults? Children’s bodies are still developing, which lessen a child’s ability to detoxify harmful substances compared to an adult. Additionally, children breathe in more air than adults, allowing a greater chance for potential inhalation exposure. Children’s behaviors also create additional risk for oral exposure, for example hand-to-mouth touching. Children tend to crawl on the floor and spend more time outdoors, which is great for physical activity, but can put them at risk to come into contact with pests and pesticides.

Prevent Pests

Pests in your home are certainly unwanted, but can also pose a health threat. “Decaying cockroaches and mouse dander are among the top triggers in asthmatic children.”1 Just like humans, pests need food, water, and shelter. By trying to eliminate pests’ accessibility to these critical needs, parents can try to keep out pests. Below are some cultural control tips to help prevent pests in the home.2

  • When eating, sit at a table to avoid walking around your home, lessening the amount of crumbs. Clean up any spills.
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.
  • If you have a pet, don’t leave food out overnight.
  • Be conscious of water sources that become attractive for pests, such as a leaky faucet, spilled liquid, or sink full of water. A puddle of water could mean a plethora of pests!
  • Clean up and fix up! Clean up excess clutter to eliminate pest shelter. Repair or replace window screens with holes and seal up baseboard and other cracks.

Poison Safety in the Home

When trying to control pests, an integrated pest management (IPM) approach is encouraged to properly identify pests, monitor the pest population, and combine tactics for control. Chemical control is part of integrated pest management. You may even have some chemical products in your home right now, such as insect repellents, rodent poisons, flea collars for your pet, cleaning disinfectants for germs, and other pesticide products. When the labeled directions are followed, these products can provide pest protection and help the user avoid accidental exposures. The label indicates how to use the product , as well as if gloves should be worn or other protective measures should be taken.

Remember to keep these chemical products in their original container; be sure to store and lock these products where children will not be able to reach them. After using potentially chemical products, be sure to seal the container and wash your hands with soap and water. Additionally, if you are using a chemical product and become distracted or interrupted, be sure to take a couple seconds to properly close the product—those extra seconds could make the difference!

The EPA has created a Pesticide Poison Prevention Checklist as a helpful resource; adults are encouraged to review their home room-for-room to search for potential hazards. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, complete the inspection on your hands and knees or in a similar fashion to a child to understand how they see the room and what would be within their reach. If you have children (or even pets) in your home, you must check out the checklist! Here’s an example of some of the questions:

Did you inspect the bathroom and move the toilet bowl cleaners, medicine, cosmetics, tile cleaners, bathroom deodorizers, mouthwash, and other personal hygiene products out of reach from small children in a high, locked cabinet?

Did you store household cleaning products, such a dishwashing detergent, disinfectants, oven and window cleaners, in a place away from food?


Happy “Safe” Halloween!

Check out the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Illinois Poison Center for safety tips about Halloween decorations, costumes, and treats. You’ll want to be sure you have the Poison Control Center number (1-800-222-1222) in a convenient place (if it’s not plugged into your phone already!) for any poison emergencies on Halloween!

Until next time,
Be Safe!



  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticides and Their Impact on Children: Key Facts and Talking Points. http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/Publications/pest-impact-hsstaff.pdf.
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Preventing Pests at Home. http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/Publications/preventpest.pdf.