Hazards for Kids

Hazards for Kids

This list focuses on health hazards that are often overlooked and can quite easily be avoided. They do not focus on other serious health hazards that need equal attention, such as obesity, poor diet, bullying, drug abuse, etc. Author: Dr Ann Goeth ( Environmental Scientist, Senior Consultant for ProEcology Consulting)

  • 1

      When re-fuelling the car, make sure you leave the kids in the car and have the windows closed. Even better: refill your tank when the kids are not with you. Several studies have shown that the vapours of gasoline and at least one of its major components (benzene) are presumed human carcinogens. Exposure to such vapours can also be associated with skin irritations or toxicity to the kidney, liver, reproductive/development system and nervous system.

  • 2

    Where possible, keep your kids away from car exhausts, such as in your garage or driveway. Also change the air in your car to a recycling cycle when driving through tunnels or stuck in traffic jams.  It is widely accepted that car exhaust contains numerous toxic substances, such as carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde, ozone and lead.

  • 3

    Keep children away from cigarette smoke –passive smoking can have considerable negative effects on their health. In general, children are more vulnerable than adults to any environmental hazards. They are more exposed to toxins in proportion to their body weight, and have more years of life ahead of them in which they may suffer long-term effects from early exposure.

  • 4

    This may sound exaggerated, but have you ever thought of what danger glitter from cards or other craft work may pose for your kids (and adults alike)? The glitter from birthday, Xmas or other cards comes off easily and ends up everywhere, including in little mouths and lungs. Arts teachers, who handle a lot of glitter stuff, have been found to suffer from so-called “glitter lungs”. So why should we allow our kids to be exposed to it?

  • 5

    When buying new clothes, towels or linen, make sure you wash them once, or even better twice, before wearing them.  The excess dye on coloured items can be absorbed through your skin, and sensitive skin will also respond to the chemical finishes that manufacturers put on such items to enhance their colour or texture.

  • 6

    You like gardening with your kids? Be careful when opening plastic bags of soil, bark chips or mulch. These can contain harmful mould and other organisms that, when breathed in, can cause serious health problems. Hence think carefully before engaging your kids in any gardening activities that involve the use of freshly purchased soil.

  • 7

    Keep household insecticides and garden pesticides out of reach of children. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning in children resemble those in adults, and include eye, skin, and respiratory irritations and higher rates of long-term health problems such as cancer.

  • 8

    We all know it, but many still don’t do it: slip, slop, slap. Sun exposure in the first 10 years of life partly determines your lifetime potential for skin cancer, while sun exposure in later life determines how much this potential is realised. In summer, a few minutes of sun exposure are sufficient to keep up Vitamin D levels, whereas in winter, a bit more sun exposure is necessary.  A combination of sun protection measures should be used during all additional times spent in the sun, and the little ones should be kept away from the midday sun wherever possible.

  • 9

    If you live above ground floor, make sure you kids can’t climb through windows or doors – terrible accidents have happened where children moved chairs or similar to climb out windows. If you have sliding window, consider putting in a permanent structure that stops the window from being slid open further than about 20 cm.

  • 1

      When re-fuelling the car, make sure you leave the kids in the car and have the windows closed. Even better: refill your tank when the kids are not with you. Several studies have shown that the vapours of gasoline and at least one of its major components (benzene) are presumed human carcinogens. Exposure to such vapours can also be associated with skin irritations or toxicity to the kidney, liver, reproductive/development system and nervous system.

  • 2

    Where possible, keep your kids away from car exhausts, such as in your garage or driveway. Also change the air in your car to a recycling cycle when driving through tunnels or stuck in traffic jams.  It is widely accepted that car exhaust contains numerous toxic substances, such as carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde, ozone and lead.

  • 3

    Keep children away from cigarette smoke –passive smoking can have considerable negative effects on their health. In general, children are more vulnerable than adults to any environmental hazards. They are more exposed to toxins in proportion to their body weight, and have more years of life ahead of them in which they may suffer long-term effects from early exposure.

  • 4

    This may sound exaggerated, but have you ever thought of what danger glitter from cards or other craft work may pose for your kids (and adults alike)? The glitter from birthday, Xmas or other cards comes off easily and ends up everywhere, including in little mouths and lungs. Arts teachers, who handle a lot of glitter stuff, have been found to suffer from so-called “glitter lungs”. So why should we allow our kids to be exposed to it?

  • 5

    When buying new clothes, towels or linen, make sure you wash them once, or even better twice, before wearing them.  The excess dye on coloured items can be absorbed through your skin, and sensitive skin will also respond to the chemical finishes that manufacturers put on such items to enhance their colour or texture.

  • 6

    You like gardening with your kids? Be careful when opening plastic bags of soil, bark chips or mulch. These can contain harmful mould and other organisms that, when breathed in, can cause serious health problems. Hence think carefully before engaging your kids in any gardening activities that involve the use of freshly purchased soil.

  • 7

    Keep household insecticides and garden pesticides out of reach of children. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning in children resemble those in adults, and include eye, skin, and respiratory irritations and higher rates of long-term health problems such as cancer.

  • 8

    We all know it, but many still don’t do it: slip, slop, slap. Sun exposure in the first 10 years of life partly determines your lifetime potential for skin cancer, while sun exposure in later life determines how much this potential is realised. In summer, a few minutes of sun exposure are sufficient to keep up Vitamin D levels, whereas in winter, a bit more sun exposure is necessary.  A combination of sun protection measures should be used during all additional times spent in the sun, and the little ones should be kept away from the midday sun wherever possible.

  • 9

    If you live above ground floor, make sure you kids can’t climb through windows or doors – terrible accidents have happened where children moved chairs or similar to climb out windows. If you have sliding window, consider putting in a permanent structure that stops the window from being slid open further than about 20 cm.

  • 10

    Beware of furniture that could fall onto your kids, or heavy items placed on top of furniture, such as TV sets. For example, terrible accidents have happened when kids tried to pull drawers out, or pulled on shelves, and the whole shelf unit fell onto them. So please do fasten them to the wall.

  • 11

    Give your kids a chance to practice their balance – city kids walk too much on concrete and often have too little chance to balance on rocks, uneven grounds, etc.  This makes them more prone to getting injured or break their bones whenever they do encounter uneven surfaces. ....

  • 12

    Are you heating your home with unflued gas heaters? Consider the air pollutants produced by such heaters, especially if rooms are not well ventilated, and consider switching to a different type of heater.

  • 13

    Even if you don’t use unflued heaters, consider that ordinary gas cooktops are also unflued, meaning the air pollutants are not vented outside through a chimney or flue. Make sure you air your home well when cooking with such stovetops, use your range hood, and keep young children away from the stovetop.

  • 14

    Did you know that many new mattresses for infants and children, as well as many clothing products, are sprayed with flame retardant chemicals? Some sources say that these are toxic because they are easily absorbed through the skin of infants and children where they contribute to neurological disorders and immune suppression. So if in doubt, check out what you buy and try to avoid such chemicals where possible.

  • 15

    Watch out for dangerous colours on toys, especially if your child still puts everything in his/her mouth. There has been media coverage of certain toys being covered in paint that contained lead, and while this may not be the norm, check what you buy and where it comes from.

  • 16

    Avoid glass-topped tables, especially if they aren't made with tempered glass, because they pose a risk if kids climb or fall on top and break through the glass.

  • 17

    Washing machine-related injuries to kids are more common than assumed. Aside from drowning, children may suffer burns from hot water in the machine or injuries to their limbs if they come into contact with a rapidly spinning basin. 

  • 10

    Beware of furniture that could fall onto your kids, or heavy items placed on top of furniture, such as TV sets. For example, terrible accidents have happened when kids tried to pull drawers out, or pulled on shelves, and the whole shelf unit fell onto them. So please do fasten them to the wall.

  • 11

    Give your kids a chance to practice their balance – city kids walk too much on concrete and often have too little chance to balance on rocks, uneven grounds, etc.  This makes them more prone to getting injured or break their bones whenever they do encounter uneven surfaces. ....

  • 12

    Are you heating your home with unflued gas heaters? Consider the air pollutants produced by such heaters, especially if rooms are not well ventilated, and consider switching to a different type of heater.

  • 13

    Even if you don’t use unflued heaters, consider that ordinary gas cooktops are also unflued, meaning the air pollutants are not vented outside through a chimney or flue. Make sure you air your home well when cooking with such stovetops, use your range hood, and keep young children away from the stovetop.

  • 14

    Did you know that many new mattresses for infants and children, as well as many clothing products, are sprayed with flame retardant chemicals? Some sources say that these are toxic because they are easily absorbed through the skin of infants and children where they contribute to neurological disorders and immune suppression. So if in doubt, check out what you buy and try to avoid such chemicals where possible.

  • 15

    Watch out for dangerous colours on toys, especially if your child still puts everything in his/her mouth. There has been media coverage of certain toys being covered in paint that contained lead, and while this may not be the norm, check what you buy and where it comes from.

  • 16

    Avoid glass-topped tables, especially if they aren't made with tempered glass, because they pose a risk if kids climb or fall on top and break through the glass.

  • 17

    Washing machine-related injuries to kids are more common than assumed. Aside from drowning, children may suffer burns from hot water in the machine or injuries to their limbs if they come into contact with a rapidly spinning basin. 

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