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EPA Offers Guidance to Caregivers with Children Returning to Hurricane Impacted Areas

Release Date: 10/25/2005
Contact Information:


Contact: Eryn Witcher, 202-564-4355/ witcher.eryn@epa.gov

(10/25/05) EPA is urging residents returning to hurricane impacted areas to remember the youngest victims by protecting them from environmental hazards left behind by the storms.

"By definition, children explore and learn from the wonders around them," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "As a grandfather and the head of EPA I know first hand that children require special attention to keep them safe. This is why EPA is providing information specifically addressing environmental risks that may affect our most vulnerable population."

Children are different from adults as they are more vulnerable to chemicals and organisms in the environment:

$ Their nervous, immune response, digestive and other bodily systems are still developing and are more easily harmed;
$ They eat more food, drink more fluids, and breathe more air than adults in proportion to their body size so it is important to take extra care to ensure the safety of their food, drink, and air;
$ Their behavior -- such as crawling and placing objects in their mouths --can expose them more to chemicals and organisms in the environment.

Each October, EPA commemorates Children's Health Month which is designed to increase public awareness and provide tools to help protect children from environmental health risks. This year, the agency is focusing on children in the Gulf Coast region by highlighting the very real and serious environmental hazards they may be exposed to when returning home. To help caregivers, EPA has posted an extensive set of questions and answers entitled "Environmental Risks to Children's Health: Hurricane and Flood Disasters" to supply guidance on topics such as:

$ Safe Water
$ Safe Food
$ Carbon Monoxide
$ Mold
$ Asthma
$ Cleanup, Toys, Debris, Demolition and Rebuilding
$ Chemicals
$ Pests and Pest Control, and
$ Air Pollution

To access the Qs and As, visit: http://www.epa.gov/katrina/faqs.htm#13 .