The bad news: Your child’s daycare can be a primary source of toxic chemical exposure. The good news: You don’t have to put up with it. You can find decent eco-friendly child care that will help reduce your child’s exposure to chemicals. To be honest, there aren’t many eco-friendly child care centers around. However, Oregon is doing something about toxic child care, and even if you don’t live in the rainy Pacific Northwest, Oregon’s Eco-Healthy Child Care (EHCC) program can help you find a healthy child care solution.
EHCC received the Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Award in 2006 from the EPA for its innovative and effective approach. EHCC also recently received the 2009-2010 Childcare and School IPM Recognition Award from the IPM Institute of North America, Inc. Eco-Healthy child care providers are committed to reducing exposure to toxins and other environmental health hazards. The organization steps in to make sure that all certified (or endorsed) child care centers are as environmentally healthy as possible. A childcare center can qualify as “Eco-Healthy” by completing a checklist that highlights 30 simple eco-healthy steps including:
- Elimination of all pesticides from lawn-based play areas.
- Air quality must be kept clean and non-toxic.
- Zero smoking allowed at or even around the site.
- Elimination of all aerosol products.
- Non-toxic art materials supplied for the kids.
- Low-VOC paints must be used for walls and furniture.
- PVC-free toys only.
- Biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products along with the least-toxic disinfecting and sanitizing products must be used.
- Recycling programs must be in place.
- Non-toxic techniques both inside and outside the facility must be used in order to prevent and control insect and weed pests.
- Use of healthy, non-treated playground equipment.
Oregon currently has over 1,400 endorsed eco-healthy child care programs, serving over 60,000 kids, but even if you don’t live in Oregon you can still take steps to find eco-friendly, non-toxic childcare:
- You can download or request an Oregon EHCC checklist and fact sheets to use as helpful guides when searching for child care. Take the information along when you visit potential day care centers.
- Hit Google, type in “YOUR AREA HERE eco-friendly child care” to find some local eco-friendly child care options.
- Low Impact Living lists various eco-friendly child care options for many other states.
- As a parent you should gather other parents and let local day care centers know that you want safe and green child care options.