Children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental risks because of biological and behavioral factors. For example:
- Children’s brains and bodies are still developing and thus more vulnerable to toxins.
- Children proportionately eat, drink, and breathe more than adults, which increases their exposure to potentially harmful substances.
- Common childhood behaviors such as crawling and frequently putting their hands or toys in their mouths also increase their risk of exposure.
These environmental exposures before and after birth can have serious physical and/or developmental consequences that can affect children throughout their life course.
State agencies, including Title V programs, understand how essential it is for children to have access to clean air and water and healthy living and learning spaces to thrive and reach optimal health. Thus, many of them have prioritized addressing harmful environmental exposures.
Children’s Environmental Health Day and National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
Two environmental health-related observances happen every October – Children’s Environmental Health Day (October 13, 2022) and National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (October 23 – 29, 2022).
Children’s Environmental Health Day (CEH Day) takes place on the second Thursday of October each year and is focused on action and equity. CEH Day is organized by the Children’s Environmental Health Network, who believes that all children have the right to healthy environments to thrive. Environmental health for all kids means clean air, clean water, and products free from harmful chemicals. The goal of #CEHDay is to collectively increase the visibility of children’s environmental health issues while empowering individuals and organizations to take action on behalf of children nationwide.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) is a collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). NLPPW strives to raise awareness of lead poisoning prevention and encourage preventive actions that reduce the likelihood of childhood lead exposure.
CEH Day Information and Resources
- Children’s Environmental Health Network resources.
- CEH Day Promotional toolkit.
- CEH Day Proclamation Request toolkit.
NLPPW Information and Resources
- NLPPW Information Kit in English and en español.
- NLPPW Sample Social Media Package in English and en español.
- CDC NLPPW website.
- EPA NLPPW website.
- HUD NLPPW website.
Statement of AMCHP CEO Terrance E. Moore on Children’s Environmental Health Day and National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
October 5, 2022
“During this year’s Children’s Environmental Health Day and National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, AMCHP underscores that all children have the right to healthy environments to live, learn, and play. As public health leaders, we are responsible for working with partners, communities, and families to ensure equitable access to clean air, clean water, safe foods, environments free of harmful substances, and environments that are safe and supportive of optimal health.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for many of our children and families, and we continue to see health and racial inequities in environmental health outcomes, like the water crisis experienced by Jackson, Mississippi, recently.
At AMCHP, we are proud to have led the Maternal & Child Health Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (MCEH CoIIN) from 2017-2020 to improve access to systems and services that address the needs of pregnant people, infants, children, and families that are exposed to lead. The MCEH CoIIN constitutes one of many examples of the power of partnerships in making sustainable, systems-level changes and the importance of cross-sector partnerships that will be necessary to reduce and eliminate environmental health inequities.
As we continue our journey to center equity and anti-racism in our public health practice and work to ensure healthy environments, this month we join partners and communities in taking action to ensure children are at the center of environmental health policies and programs.”
AMCHP’s Work Related to Environmental Health
Childhood exposure to lead contributes to developmental and intellectual disabilities, higher rates of neurobehavioral disorders such as hyperactivity and attention deficits, and lower birth weight in children. Reducing lead exposure in maternal and child health populations requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach.
From 2017-2020, AMCHP led a Maternal and Child Environmental Health Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (MCEH CoIIN) to address lead poisoning prevention. We encourage you to explore the MCEH CoIIN and the approaches used by nine different state teams in this MCH Lead Toolkit. You can also find more information about the MCH Lead Toolkit on our current initiatives page.
AMCHP also has resources focused on lifting essential information for our Title V members and partners in the areas of climate justice and resources on critical partnerships and environmental levers in early childhood nutrition and food justice.
AMCHP Information & Resources
- Online interactive resource – MCH Lead Toolkit
- Podcast Episode – The Kids Are Not Okay: Climate Change, Environmental Injustice, and What MCH & Youth Advocates Can Do
- Pulse Article – Taking Action to Address Environmental Health Today to Protect the Health of Future Generations
- Pulse Article – Inequities in Housing and Lead Exposure – Breaking the Link
- Pulse Article – Lead-ing New Partnerships in Child and Adolescent Health
- Pulse Article – Protecting Children From Lead Once And For All
- Article and Family Story, featured by NICHQ – Lead Poisoning Continues to Put Too Many Children at Risk
- MCH Essentials Series – Climate Justice
- Early Childhood Nutrition Module – Changing the Environment: Increasing Access to Nutritious Foods