Did you know that children may be more vulnerable to environmental exposures and hazards than adults? This is because children's bodies are still developing and growing; they eat, drink and breathe in more in proportion to their body size than adults do; and they tend to spend more time outside.
Viewer Tip: October is Children's Health Month! You can protect children's health with these simple tips:
- Check the air quality forecast. If air quality is poor and your child suffers from asthma, consider rescheduling sports games and other outdoor activities for another day. If you do go outside, aim for early morning or evening hours, when air pollution levels are likely to be lower. You can view the air quality forecast at www.airnow.gov.
- Use sunscreen. About 23 percent of a person's lifetime exposure to UV radiation occurs before age 18, so it's especially important to protect children from sun exposure. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 that provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen liberally and often, and wear protective clothing - hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirt and pants. Remember that it is possible to burn on a cold or cloudy day, even when the sun doesn't seem bright.
- Walk or bike to school. Almost half of all students walked or biked to school in 1960 - today that number is less than 15 percent. Walking or biking to school can help address a variety of health problems, including obesity, diabetes and asthma. It also cuts down on traffic - and air pollution - around schools. Map a safe route at https://maps.walkbiketoschool.org.
- Burn wisely. The distinctive smell of wood smoke is a sign of the heating season. It may smell good, but wood smoke can impact indoor air quality and health. Make sure your chimney is clean and only use seasoned wood for burning. If you burn wood at home - even occasionally - install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to keep you and your family safe.
For more Children's Health Month tips, visit yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/content/tips.htm.
(Sources: “Health Effects of Bad Air.” www.airnow.gov; The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Skin Cancer Facts.”; EPA. “Children’s Health Month 2010: Healthy Communities for Healthy Children.”; U.S. Burn Wise: Consumers – Best Burn Practices. Image courtesy of Children's Health Month.)