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Early Childhood Programs

Environmental Health


According the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health, children should not be treated as “little adults”. Because of a child’s small body size, they take in or absorb more environmental hazards found indoors (or outdoors) than do adults.

  • Children have unique vulnerabilities that make them more susceptible to certain environmental hazards.

Children are more likely to be exposed to environmental hazards because they often crawl on floors, carpets, and grass. Through normal development, young children have an intense stage of hand-to-mouth activity that places them at higher risk.

  • Children can, and are more likely to, ingest, inhale, and absorb toxins.

Years of research has concluded that environmental toxins can have serious and negative impacts on many different parts of a child’s developing body. Emerging science suggests that environment toxins may contribute to (not necessarily cause in all cases) asthma, cognitive developmental delays, respiratory illnesses, and learning disabilities. 

  • Children’s physical and developmental health can be negatively impacted by exposure to environmental toxins.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health believes that those who care for children (child care staff, parents or guardians, physicians, schools) should make every effort to minimize the negative health and developmental effects of toxin exposure. 

  • Caregivers must take precaution, become informed about environmental hazards, and make efforts to reduce or eliminate certain toxins in their environments.


Through child care regulations, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, addresses many aspects of protecting children from environmental hazards within facilities. In some cases research suggests that programs consider “moving beyond” child care licensing requirements and taking additional measures to protect children from environmental toxins.

OCDEL has developed PA Reference Pages to accompany each of the 16 Eco-Healthy Child Care© environmental health categories. These reference pages outline PA DHS Child Care Regulations and also define additional measures that can be taken to make their programs healthier for children and staff by including the Caring for Our Children: National Health & Safety Performance Standards (3rd Edition). See the information below:

Air Quality:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Air Quality Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Reference Air Quality Fact Sheet


Eco-Healthy Child Care© Arsenic Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Reference Arsenic Fact Sheet

Art Supplies:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Art Supplies Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Reference Art Supplies Fact Sheet


Eco-Healthy Child Care© Asbetos Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Reference Asbetos Fact Sheet

The Built Environment:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Built Environment Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Reference Built Environment Fact Sheet

Furniture & Carpets:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Furniture & Carpets Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Reference Furniture & Carpets Fact Sheet

Household Chemicals:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Household Chemicals Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Reference Household Chemicals, Selecting an Appropriate Sanitizer or Disinfectant Fact Sheet

Caring for Our Children: Selecting an Appropriate Sanitizer or Disinfectant
Caring for Our Children: Guide for Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting

Improving Nutrition & Promoting Physical Activity:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Improving Nutrition & Promoting Physical Activity Fact Sheet 
Pennsylvania Reference Improving Nutrition & Promoting Physical Activity Fact Sheet


Eco-Healthy Child Care© Lead Fact Sheet 
Pennsylvania Reference Lead Fact Sheet

Making Celebrations Healthy:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Making Celebrations Healthy Fact Sheet 
Pennsylvania Reference Making Celebrations Healthy Fact Sheet


Eco-Healthy Child Care© Mercury Fact Sheet 
Pennsylvania Reference Mercury Fact Sheet

Noise Pollution:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Noise Pollution Fact Sheet 
Pennsylvania Reference Noise Pollution Fact Sheet


Eco-Healthy Child Care© Pesticides Fact Sheet 
Pennsylvania Reference Pesticides Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management for Child Care & Early Learning Environments

Plastics and Plastic Toys:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Plastics and Plastic Toys Fact Sheet 
Pennsylvania Reference Plastics and Plastic Toys Fact Sheet


Eco-Healthy Child Care© Radon Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Reference Radon Fact Sheet

Recycling & Garbage Storage:

Eco-Healthy Child Care© Recycling & Garbage Fact Sheet 
Pennsylvania Reference Recycling & Garbage Fact Sheet


OCDEL has partnered with the Children’s Environmental Health Network and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ ECELS (Early Childhood Education Linkage System) Program to deliver the Eco-Healthy Child Care© professional development throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

All Pennsylvania regulated child care providers are encouraged to participate in this professional development. Please refer to the PA Key Calendar to find an Eco-Healthy Child Care session being held near you or contact your PA Regional Key.

The environmental health of early childhood programs is very important to children’s healthy growth and development. Participation in an Eco-Healthy Child Care© session meets the Keystone STARS standard for two hours of health and safety professional development.

A listing of Pennsylvania Eco-Healthy Child Care© certified instructors will soon be available.

Note: If you are a Keystone STARS participant and you plan to apply for the PA ECE Healthy & Green Mini-Grants program, you are required to attend an Eco-Healthy Child Care professional development session in order to be eligible to make a grant application.


OCDEL partnered with leading scientific experts to identify the environmental health content that is most relevant to early learning programming.  



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