Sue Rossi: Protecting your child from contaminants

Child Health and Environment Project hosts free workshops for families wishing to learn how to stay safe at home

  • Oct. 23, 2011 8:00 p.m.

Jane Houston and her daughter Victoria

Environmental contaminants can have serious and long-term impacts on children’s health. As awareness increases, information about environmental risks will become an accepted part of standard care for preconception, prenatal and child health.

There are associations between environmental hazards, and asthma, cancer, learning, behavioral and developmental effects, low birth weight and birth defects. There is also emerging evidence for additional health consequences such as impaired function of the immune system and interference with the hormones of the endocrine system.

The best way to protect children is to reduce or eliminate as many known or suspected contaminants as possible from our air, water, soil, food, toys and products. When it comes to children, it is better to be safe than sorry. As parents, you can take action to protect children from being exposed to harmful pollutants.  You can do this by “child proofing” the home.

Here are a few simple tips to remember:

n Wash children’s hands after play on any pressure-treated wood structures

n Avoid soft vinyl toys, especially with teething babies

n Choose less toxic products when renovating, such as low VOC paints, finishes and adhesives. Try to avoid products with hazard symbols

n Choose “green” cleaning products made with non-toxic ingredients

n Use a wet rag to remove dust and wash these cloths separately

For more information and valuable resources, visit

All of the information in this article was extracted from the Canadian Partnership for Child Health and the Environment’s Playing it Safe booklet.

Sue Rossi is project leader for the Child Health and Environment Project. The project is funded by the North Okanagan Early Childhood Development Committee and hosted through the First Nations Friendship Centre. A series of free workshops is being held for expectant parents, families with children up to the age of six, service providers and health care practitioners. Each workshop includes a “make and take” sample of non-toxic cleaning products. For details, e-mail Rossi at


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